Nafaqa tipped to land a very open Craven Stakes at Newmarket

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The midweek treat continues at Newmarket on Thursday, as the Craven Meeting continues, with its titular race taking centre stage.

We’ve got some regular fixtures in the big sprints throughout the season on show, as well as some potential 2000 Guineas types, but separating them could be difficult.

Nevertheless, we have knuckled down to digest the three Group 3 contests on the Rowley Mile, to pick out three best bets for the day.

Abernant Stakes (15:30)

Henry Candy’s Music Master is probably a worthwhile favourite for this 6f contest, being the highest rated horse in the field. He was placed at Group 1 level last season when third in Haydock’s Sprint Cup and with wins on his reappearances in the last two seasons, will be hard to beat.

However, in races that are so often prone to a spot of bad luck, an each-way play could be the way to go.

ANGELIC LORD was far from disgraced in some top contests as a juvenile, finishing around 3l behind both The Wow Signal and Ivawood as a two-year-old.

That form looks solid with both of those real Guineas contenders, and he could have more to come.

He will have that fitness edge over some, having been beaten just 1/2l in the Spring Cup, and gets 9lbs from the field, and looks a solid bet to take on the favourite.

Craven Stakes (16:05)

A long hard season as a two-year-old took might have taken its toll on Kool Kompany as his form petered out towards the end of the campaign.

However, a step up to 1m for Richard Hannon’s horse could hold just the ticket.

His sire Jeremy has been making hay as a dual-purpose sire, producing the likes of Our Conor and Prussian Eagle, who was placed at Grade 1 level in Ireland last month.

With that in mind, it would be no shock to see his big white come home first.

However, we are taking him on with a horse we know stays a mile.

NAFAQA only found subsequent Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park too good on his final start last season, and looks a real progressive type.

Thought of highly enough to be pitched in at Royal Ascot on his debut, he completely missed the break in the Chesham Stakes, only to make eye-catching headway to finish fourth.

With plenty of Listed and Group level winners in behind in his two wins that followed, he looks a class horse.

Earl of Sefton Stakes (16:40)

We are looking to round off the day by following the favourite (for once perhaps), with Charlie Appleby’s FRENCH NAVY picked for success.

The seven-year-old really improved with age last season, rattling off a hat-trick of wins in Listed and Group 3 company, showing that his years are far from catching up.

A slow start in this race last season perhaps hampered his chances, but he plugged on well to finish second behind Mull of Killough.

With that horse enjoying his retirement the path is clear for the Godolphin horse to bag that win.

He has triumphed twice on his seasonal reappearance in the past, so can be fancied to strike first time out.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.