SAEED BIN SUROOR
London – Royal Marine can make a success of his retrieval mission on Wednesday in the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
Saeed bin Suroor’s colt was all the rage for his Dubai expedition in January when he tested the water after his Group 1 juvenile victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.
Something did not agree with him in the desert, though, because he trailed in a well-beaten fourth after being sent off an odds-on favourite.
Scroll on three months from that UAE Guineas Trial, and Royal Marine puts his credentials on the line this time for the first Classic of the domestic season.
He does so, inevitably, against a clutch of unexposed rivals whose unbeaten profiles are sure to be persuasive for many.
The instinct is so often to side with untapped potential at this time of year – while memories of Royal Marine’s unequal struggle with the desert dirt will remain off-putting for some.
They ensure too that he will go off at tempting odds to beat likely favourite Zakouski, in the same ownership.
Any one of several others could turn out to be the real deal too, of course, but Royal Marine is the one with the Group-winning CV his opponents have yet to match.
Equilateral is another for whom recent disappointment – and one or two more historical too – is no recommendation in another Group 3 contest on the card, the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes.
Always well-touted and yet to deliver with any consistency, Charlie Hills’ four-year-old fell short again on his first run of the season at Doncaster.
Setting aside the lofty expectations which preceded his Listed return, however, Equilateral produced a perfectly plausible performance.
On official ratings, he has next to no chance off level weights here. But on the assumption well-versed connections are not terminally mistaken about his ability, he should prove up to this class at some point – and also has a fitness edge on the majority of the field.
Elsewhere on the Flat, Beverley provides the turf option and an opportunity for Boutonniere to strike on handicap debut.
Andrew Balding’s three-year-old will also be stepping off the all-weather for the first time, having improved enough in three runs to see off an even-money favourite by a head at Lingfield last time.
His victim has easily won a maiden since, rubber-stamping Boutonniere’s claims off his opening mark.
The Fibresand will be flying at Southwell, and Inspired Thought should be too in the Betway Heed Your Hunch Novice Stakes.
Archie Watson’s filly did what she was expected to do by winning on debut two weeks ago – and the convincing manner of that course-and-distance success indicated plenty more to come.
Slightly sneakier feelings are harboured about Quila Saeda in the opening Betway Live Casino Handicap.
The canny Mick Appleby is gradually attuning the ex-German mare to current requirements, and a 2kg drop for an acceptable effort here at her second attempt in this country will do no harm over the extra 200m.
Over jumps, the highlight on day one of Cheltenham’s April meeting is the Grade 2 Barchester Healthcare Silver Trophy Chase.
The prolific Dan and Harry Skelton might easily have directed their mare Rene’s Girl towards an easier target as she returns from a four-month absence.
This lightly-raced nine-year-old has some fine form to her name, remains well-treated on the best of it and can demonstrate she is very much at home on this spring ground.
Tanarpino is another who will have conditions to his liking in the Arkells Brewery Nicholson Holman Chase.
Jennie Candlish’s eight-year-old ran well in this same race 12 months ago and returns in fine form after his second chasing win at Uttoxeter late last month.
He is up 4kg for that decisive success in a first-time visor, and therefore saddled with top-weight, but has earned it.- Press Association