Today sees the opening day of the Newmarket Craven meeting on the Rowley Mile course and Alan Thompson has two selections to get the three day festival off to a good start...
"He seems well handicapped on his run in the Mill Reef Stakes and this Listed handicap looks well within his reach"
The drop in class and step up in trip will suit Shine So Bright
The European Free Handicap is a listed contest for three-year-old's and it's always a race worth following as it produces plenty of future winners. Azano for John Gosden and Frankie Detori is the favourite, he was second in a Group 3 at Newbury when last seen in October, and that form was well and truly franked by the winner, Mohaather who beat my selection Great Scot in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday at 33/1. I prefer Azano to the top weight Arctic Sound, who I think may struggle to give his rivals 4lbs, but my preference today is for Andrew Balding's colt Shine So Bright.
He was fifth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and joined the Balding team soon afterwards. Since his move he has finished third in all three starts, putting in an eye catching performance in the Richmond Stakes. He was then sent off favourite for the Gimcrack and also the Mill Reef stakes where he ran well in defeat. The Mill Reef was the last time he was seen in public but he seems well handicapped on that run, he should enjoy dropping into Listed company and the step up in trip should also suit. This handicap looks well within his reach, allowing him to make a winning start to his three-year-old career and I am sure he will be an exciting horse to follow this year.
Gosden can take the Fielden Stakes again
The Fielden Stakes was won by Golden Horn in 2015 before he went on to win the Derby and this race is often a good pointer to the best middle distance three-year-old's for the season. The trainer of Golden Horn was of course John Gosden so it's no surprise to find out he generally does well in this race as well as this meeting. He runs Kick On in this and that's exactly what I expect the colt to do today having run sixth in a Group 1 at Doncaster on his final 2018 outing. He should enjoy the step up in trip which looks sure to bring about some improvement from him, and he is also the sole representative for the Gosden team that have won two of the last four renewals of this race.
Western Australia is the obvious danger here from the all powerful Aidan O'Brien team and with Ryan Moore in the plate he has to command respect. He finished about three lengths ahead of Kick On in that Doncaster race in October and that's the strongest piece of form on offer in this line up, based on that he is a worthy favourite. However, he was a 50/1 shot that day at Doncaster and perhaps a truer reflection of his ability was his run in a Listed race at Dundalk on his reappearance last month, where he was beaten by a 98 rated performer. He is more exposed than most of these having already had seven starts and I would be surprised if something in this field wasn't capable of getting home ahead of him, preferably Kick On of course.
2019 Overall: +2pts
This week so far...
Staked: 9 pts
Returned: 9.8 pts
2018 P&L +82.29pts
2017 P&L +53.30pts
2016 P&L +15.23pts