The Craven Stakes (Wednesday 17 April @ 15:35) is regarded as one of the best trials for the 2,000 Guineas.
That’s because it is a Group 3 Race run over a mile on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, giving contenders a chance to experience the course and distance that first Classic of the season takes place on.
It was first run in 1771 and has been used a stepping stone to 2,000 Guineas success by equine greats like Dancing Brave. However, the last winner of the Craven Stakes to go on and win the 2,000 Guineas was Haafhd is 2004.
Check out our stats, runner-by-runner guide, and free tips for the 2019 Craven Stakes.
Craven Stakes 10-Year-Trends
Nine of the last 10 winners of the Craven Stakes were having their first run of the season in the race, whilst nine winners had already had at least three career runs before winning it.
Seven of the last eight winners were drawn in stall-five or lower, with five of those drawn in either stall one or stall three. Only three of the last seven winners had won on their previous start, but they all came in the last five years.
The Hannon Stable has trained four of the last seven winners, whilst Ryan Moore has ridden three of the last nine winners, two of which were for Hannon.
There have been five winning favourites in the last decade, but all of those were returned at odds of between 4/6 and even-money. The other five winners were returned at prices ranging from 7/2 to 14/1.
Craven Stakes 2019 Runner-By-Runner Guide
Trained by Martin Meade, who won the 2017 edition of the Craven Stakes with Eminent. Won his novice stakes at the first time of asking as a two-year-old and then ran okay when third behind both Dark Vision and Too Darn Hot in Group Races. Should be suited by at least a mile this year but drawn wider than ideal in stall-seven.
Surprising 16/1 winner on two-year-old debut in November at Kempton on the all-weather and started his three-year-old campaign with another win at Kempton in a class 5 race. Has to prove he handles turf and has a lot to find on the ratings. Drawn in stall-six.
Won his only race as a two-year-old at Newmarket at odds of 11/4 and was even more fancied when winning his first race as a three-year-old at 8/11 on the all-weather. Officially rated 89, which leaves him with plenty to find, but looks to have a favourable draw in stall-three.
Rated 90 and won the second of his three starts as a two-year-old. However, he was then turned over at odds of 1/7 in another weak-looking race, and the winner didn’t boost that form on his one subsequent run. Drawn in stall-five.
Won a class-three maiden on his first start as a two-year-old but couldn’t cope with the step-up in class to Listed and Group 3 level on his next two starts. Also has to overcome a difficult looking draw in stall-nine.
Officially the highest-rated of today’s field on a mark of 113, but his form has a mixed look to it. He was well-beaten on debut before winning a maiden. He then won a Group 1 in France from Broome, a horse that has boosted that form this season by winning a 10-furlong Group 3 Race by eight-lengths. However, Royal Marine was well-beaten on his seasonal debut at Meydan, though that was on dirt. May prefer some cut in the ground but has a reasonable draw in stall-four.
Nicely-bred type trained by Hugo Palmer that made a winning racecourse debut in December and followed that with a win over a mile on the straight course at Newcastle. Needs to improve for the switch to turf but looks nicely drawn in stall-two.
An unfancied 33/1 shot when a convincing winner of a maiden here at Newmarket. The third home that day has boosted the form since, winning a Group 3 at Meydan. He also finished in front of Walking Thunder that day, who was the horse that won the race that Royal Marine finished fourth in at Meydan. Interesting and drawn in stall-one.
Trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Ryan Moore, but arguably ran his worst race under Moore last year when he couldn’t handle Group 3 company. Won two of his other four races but needs to improve and drawn wider than ideal in stall-eight.
Has been the talking horse since the ante-post markets opened, as his trainer won this last year with Masar, who ran third in the 2,000 Guineas and won The Derby. However, this once-raced colt has had a very different preparation and the form of his win on the all-weather was let-down by the runner-up next time. Only time will tell if he deserves to be a short-priced favourite, especially as he’s drawn widest of all.
Craven Stakes 2019 Verdict
The likely favourite Zakouski may prove to be a superstar, but one run on the all-weather and draw in stall-ten doesn’t make him an obvious stats-fit for the race. The other Godolphin runner Royal Marine looks a better fit, as he’s had four runs and has a low-draw. However, it’s a bit worrying that he flopped at Meydan last time.
That’s why it could be worth taking a chance on Skardu. He also wouldn’t be a typical winner but could follow in the footsteps of the 2017 winner Eminent who also won a course and distance maiden on his only race at two before taking this on his first start at three. Skardu also came from a long way back to win that race, so should have no problem with the extra furlong here, and he looks the each-way value.