Newmarket’s Craven meeting heralds start of Flat season


G3 winner Masar features among a select group set to line up at Newmarket’s historic three-day Craven meeting, which gets underway on Tuesday, 17 April. 

Charlie Appleby is due to have runners in both of the key Classic trials, with G3 Solario Stakes winner Masar pencilled in for the mile G3 Craven Stakes on 19 April – an important pointer for the British Classic, the G1 2,000 Guineas, over the same course and distance on 5 May. 

Soliloquy, who made all when the game winner of a novice race at Ascot in September, will contest the seven-furlong G3 Nell Gwyn Stakes on 18 April, a prep race for the other British Classic over a mile, the G1 1,000 Guineas, back at Newmarket on 6 May. 

Charlie Appleby said: “Masar flew in from Dubai on Saturday afternoon (14 April) and, providing he appears to have taken the journey well, is an intended runner in the Craven Stakes. 

“We are putting a line through his run on the dirt out in Meydan, but he comes into the race a fit horse and a mile is a good starting point for him. 

“Soliloquy won on her final juvenile start at Ascot and is a typical Dubawi filly in that she has done well from two to three. 

“The Nell Gwyn Stakes will be a step up in class and this will give us a gauge on where to go with her afterwards.”

Other contenders for the Godolphin trainer at the Craven meeting include Strings Of Life, from the first crop of top sprinter Slade Power, who is set to be Godolphin’s first two-year-old runner in the UK this year when lining up in a fillies’ maiden on 18 April. 

Three-year-old colt Nordic Lights attempts to build on a winning debut on the All-Weather in a 10-furlong novice race the following day. 

The trainer added: “Strings Of Life is a neat little filly, who is taking everything very naturally at the moment. She will be our first two-year-old runner and should be a nice pointer with regards to the rest of our juvenile team. 

“Nordic Lights won impressively at Lingfield despite showing plenty of signs of greenness and has come on mentally for that introduction. 

“This will be his first start on turf but he has given every indication that he will appreciate it.”

Three-year-old colt Stage Magic, winner of a French G3 race last year, makes his seasonal debut for Charlie Appleby in the eight-runner Listed Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs on the Craven’s opening day, 17 April. 

The switch to the European turf season comes on the back of a hugely successful winter for Godolphin in the UK and Dubai, having been crowned champion owner for the UK’s All-Weather Championships and four G1 victories on Dubai World Cup Night headlining a host of winners at Meydan during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and more championship titles. 

Charlie Appleby commented: “The whole team is obviously in good spirits following a fantastic start to the year out in Dubai and the horses that ran over the winter in the UK have also performed well.

"I hope that we can continue the momentum for the start of the European turf season.

“The majority of our horses who are running in Europe travelled back from Dubai last week and they have all settled in well. Although the weather has been wet recently, it has been mild which has helped. 

“It has been a cold winter for those that stayed in Newmarket and it has held us up slightly because we haven’t been able to work them on grass as much as in previous years. 

“We are probably not as far forward as we would ideally like to be, but it is a long season and we are pleased with the horses that we hope to run this coming week.”