The Craven Stakes (4.30pm Newmarket) has long been considered one of the major trials for the 2,000 Guineas, however you have to go all the way back to 2004 to find the last horse who won the race and went on to victory in the first classic of the season, and that was Haafhd.
The race itself is named after the sixth Baron Craven, William Craven, who was a leading Jockey Club Member in the late eighteenth century, and whom established the Craven Meeting in 1771. The Craven Stakes was run in several formats, before settling on its current format in 1878.
The Hannon Stable has been the stable to follow in recent years, with Hannon Senior training the winner in both 2012 and 2013, whilst Hannon Junior trained the winner on both 2014 and 2015, to make it four on the bounce for the stable. Meanwhile, Ryan Moore is the leading jockey in the last decade with 3 winners.
Six runners are set to go to post for this year’s renewal.
The John Gosden colt racked-up a hat-trick of wins in a Maiden, a Listed Race and a Group 2 last season, but didn’t seem to handle the tacky ground on his last start when sent-off odds-on for the prestigious Racing Post Trophy. He’ll be favourite to win this, especially as Gosden has already had a fantastic meeting, though it’s worth noting that he’s never trained the winner of this race, and Frankie Dettori hasn’t ridden the winner since 1999.
Finished the season rated just 2lb lower than Foundation, but has only a maiden victory to his name. Highly tried in France and at the Breeders Cup, but may well just be a marker for Aidan O’Brien who has yet to train the winner of this race. Many of his recent runners have also looked to have needed the run.
Steel Of Madrid 25/1
Trained by Richard Hannon, but has plenty to find on the book having been first and second in two class-4 races so far. May well improve this year, but will have had to make giant strides to win this. Stable’s runners a bit hit-and-miss at present.
Stormy Antarctic 9/2
Progressed from winning his third and fourth starts to run a blinder at 16/1 in the group-1 Criterium International, form which actually gives him the beating of Foundation through a line with Johannes Vermeer. However, he may have been well-suited to the heavy ground in France, whilst Foundation wasn’t when running against Johannes Vermeer. Stable also not in the best of form at present.
Tony Curtis 25/1
Named so because he’s a handsome beast, and he looks the type to make-up into a better 3-year-old. However, he was a long way behind Foundation at Doncaster at 14/1 despite the favourite not running to his best. Tough ask even for a Hannon horse.
Very Talented 8/1
Won a maiden on his third attempt, and has to improve markedly to live-up to his name. Might do that in time, but stable’s runner so far haven’t ben making much impact.
As Stormy Antarctic’s and Very Talented’s trainers aren’t in great form, and neither John Gosden or Aidan O’Brien having trained the winner before, it could be argued there’s a case for backing one or both of the Hannon runners considering the stable’s record in the race. However, Foundation seems to standout on his best form, and John Gosden is in great form at present.