Sunday 25 February 2018

Nafaqa can get Craven win Hills craves


Nafaqa can stake his claim as a true Classic contender with victory in the Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Barry Hills' charge is currently available at around the 33-1 mark for the Qipco 2000 Guineas but those odds will surely be slashed if he can land this mile event on the Rowley course.

Strictly judged on the official ratings, Nafaqa has a little to find with the likes of Kool Kompany and War Envoy but his form last year stacks up extremely well and makes him a leading player.

Beaten just under five lengths by Richard Pankhurst on his racecourse bow in the Chesham at Royal Ascot, Nafaqa went on to win a Newbury maiden which has produced five subsequent winners before claiming a Listed event at Doncaster.

The second that day, Toocoolforschool, went on to win the Mill Reef while Nafaqa chased home Racing Post Trophy hero Elm Park on his final start of the year over this course and distance.

His one-length defeat reads very well indeed and given he is by Derby winner Sir Percy out of a mare who won over a mile, Nafaqa has all the right credentials here.

French Navy usually goes well fresh and is the one to follow in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Earl of Sefton Stakes on his seasonal return.

The seven-year-old hit the bar in this contest last term but went on to land a couple of Listed heats as well as a Group Three event at Epsom last June.

He can make it second-time lucky here.

Lucky Kristale is worth a small interest in the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes as she returns to sprinting this term.

Trainer George Margarson understandably aimed to eke out her stamina in the hope of a Classic win last year but it was a vain attempt as she just did not get home.

The Lucky Story filly had, however, shone over six furlongs as a juvenile and while there are plenty of question marks about whether she has really trained on, fast ground and six furlongs can provide all the answers.

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