Newmarket work watcher Tony Elves kicks off his new weekly column with Craven meeting tips.
For many purists the option of a safety first approach with bets kept to a minimum until the fitness and well being of the major stables is ascertained is a golden rule as the recovery from burnt fingers at this early stage can be a painful lesson.
One thing we know for sure is that Roger Varian has his team well forward with Postponed putting in a stellar performance in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Belardo landing the Listed Doncaster Mile and Ennaadd landing some thumping bets in a conditions event at the recent Kempton meeting.
As minefields go, the first day looks particularly tricky but there are plenty of hounds barking the name of Mutawaaly in the concluding Winning Post Pavilion Experience Handicap at 5.40 and he looks worth a 1pt investment at the very least.
The handicapper has an unenviable task these days rating maiden winners on the AW at Wolverhampton as who would have been able to guess that the John Gosden-trained Jack Hobbs a winner at the venue on December 27, 2014 would hack up in the mile and a quarter handicap at Sandown the following April before finishing runner-up in the Derby and the Dante to stablemate Golden Horn and then grabbing his own slice of Group 1 Glory in the Irish Derby.
Mutawaaly made his debut over the same extended mile and gets an identical opening mark for his three and three-quarter length defeat of Canford Crossing and although the form of the race is hardly inspiring there was plenty to like about the way an inexperienced colt finished off his race.
His recent exploits on the Newmarket gallops haven't gone unmissed by the town’s jungle drums and the Derby and Dante Stakes entry is fancied to prove up to the task in the ten-furlong event.
As mentioned earlier it could pay to adopt a safety first approach to the meeting and Air Pilot could well prove the best bet of the day in the Group 3 Weatherbys General Stud Book Earl of Sefton Stakes at 4.30 on Wednesday.
The seven-year-old is still relatively lightly-raced and was clearly unsuited by the tight turns of Chester when finishing third, beaten three-quarters of a length, by Maverick Wave in the Huxley Stakes first time out. The more straightforward galloping terrain of The Curragh was much more to his liking when won at Group 3 by a length-and-a-quarter from Parish Hall last June and he put in two solid effort in better company at Longchamp and at Ascot afterwards.
Trainer Ralph Beckett usually has team forward enough at this time of the year and, with Arod declining the invitation, this nine furlong event looks well within his grasp and a 1pt win is recommended.
On Thursday, Foundation looks set to make his reappearance in the Group 3 Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes and he could well further his 2000 Guineas claim.
John Gosden may not have been quite as quick off the blocks as he was last Spring but he had this race in mind for the Highclere-owned colt for some time and has been pleased with his progress in his recent work.
Foundation is a little unlucky to start his second season with a blemish to his race record as he had the sort of passage in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October that could only have provided Frankie Dettori with nightmares. He had been seen in a much better light on the Rowley Mile previously, when landing the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes by three-quarters of a length from Deauville.
The opposition doesn’t look particularly earth-shattering and he merits a 2pt wager.