Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 17:49 15/04/2015
One of the most significant trials for the Qipco 2000 Guineas is usually tomorrow's Group 3 Craven Stakes, this year sponsored by Novae Bloodstock Insurance. But with none of the seven declared runners priced at shorter than 20-1 for the race won 12 months ago by Night Of Thunder it is unlikely we will see the winner of the first Classic of the season on show at headquarters, and from a betting perspective the race is too hard to call with many expected to come on for the run. Therefore, it is the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes at 3.30 which make more appeal, particularly the 11-2 available about Astaire with William Hill.
Fitness won't be an issue for the Kevin Ryan-trained four-year-old who looked all over the winner on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster when moving smoothly through to challenge approaching the final furlong in the Cammidge Trophy, only to be caught close home by Naadirr, but with that run under his belt the son of Intense Focus is fancied to go one better at headquarters in the hands of Jamie Spencer.
The winner of both the Gimcrack and Middle Park Stakes as a juvenile Astaire found life tough at three, in the main taking on Group 1 company, and will appreciate dropping back to Group 3 level over what is probably his best trip of six furlongs. Henry Candy's Music Master is likely to go off favourite following his third in last season's Betfred Sprint Cup but that was last September and the five-year-old may just need tomorrow's race in anticipation of a busy year ahead.
Angelic Lord, Chookie Royale and Rivellino have all been running well on the all-weather recently and will expose any fitness question marks in their rivals but that should not include Astaire who can win for the first time since a successful two-year-old campaign in 2013.
1 Point each-way Astaire 11-2 William Hill