London – It will be a huge surprise if Roaring Lion cannot get his season off to a winning start in the Group 3 bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
John Gosden’s colt is only behind two Aidan O’Brien-trained runners in the betting for next month’s 2000 Guineas, which is testament to the form he showed last term.
He bowed out the 2017 campaign with three wins in four runs, with his only defeat coming when narrowly edged out by Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Roaring Lion should possibly have won that day, too, as he hung a bit in the finish, conceding a vital few metres that really would have counted given the final verdict of a neck.
The form of his previous victory in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket was boosted when the second, Nelson, won last week’s Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.
As he is upwards of 3kg clear of his rivals here, it really will be very disappointing if he is eclipsed.
The other Group 3 feature on the final day of the Craven meeting is the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes and Spirit Of Valor is an interesting contender for O’Brien here.
He ran in both the English and Irish Guineas last year, possibly as a measure to ensure a decent pace for stablemate Churchill, but really shone when dropped back to 1400m in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
While the re-opposing Le Brivido was a neck too good that day, Spirit Of Valor had a little wander across the track in the closing stages which would hardly have helped.
He went on to claim a Curragh Group 2 and was last sighted when claiming a fair fourth behind the top-class Aclaim in the Park Stakes at Doncaster last September.
Switching back to 1200m is an intriguing decision, but given he scored over the trip as a juvenile and showed plenty of pace last term, it might turn out to be a logical choice.
Awake My Soul can prove the star turn in the main event on the first day of Ripon’s season.
The nine-year-old lines up in the RiponBET Silver Bowl Handicap having signed off last season with victory in a similar event at Redcar.
Sent off a well-supported 2-1 favourite on that occasion, Awake My Soul was really on top of affairs at the finish, coming home a length clear without being put under too much pressure.
A 2kg hike for that victory is not ideal, but he has proved capable of winning first time out in the past and it could be dangerous to dismiss his chances.
Tanseeq did not enjoy the best of luck last time out, so it could pay to keep the faith in the first division of the WYG Novice Stakes at Newcastle.
Winner of a Kempton novice back in November, William Haggas pitched his charge into handicap company next time but he was caught wide and just could not get on terms. He was only beaten 3.50 lengths in fourth so could be worth another chance.
Cheltenham hosts a second day of action and Petticoat Tales can go well in the Huw Stevens, Jo Whiley Afterparty Onsale Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
She fell short when upped to Grade 2 level last month but can regain the winning thread switched back to Listed company here. – Press Association