Toormore on trial in Craven
View from connections ahead of Thursday's Novae Bloodstock Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
Toormore gets the chance to cement his Classic claims as he puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Novae Bloodstock Craven Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.
Richard Hannon's Arakan colt won on each of his three competitive appearances as a juvenile, completing the hat-trick with a runaway victory in the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh in mid-September.
Toormore is odds-on to make a winning return against five rivals, but Tim Palin, racing manager for owners Middleham Park, insists victory is not the be all and end all.
He said: "We're all looking forward to taking him out of the cotton wool and getting him back on the racecourse.
"The first point to make is it's not all about tomorrow. The Craven is exactly what is says on the tin - it's a trial.
"Plenty of Guineas horses have been beaten in their trials, including Sky Lantern (winner of the 1000 Guineas) in the Nell Gwyn last year.
"We're not looking to make a big, bold statement and this is just a step on the route to May 3. Statements should be made on the big days.
"We obviously hope he will win. He's chalked up as an odds-on favourite, but the main thing is the get the run into him.
"There is only one 2000 Guineas and we need to make sure he is on point for that day.
"It will be good to give him experience of the course as well, of course, and we will also find out for sure whether he 100 per cent stays the mile, as he has only run over six and seven furlongs.
"There is no doubt after watching Kingman the other day, you wouldn't want to be going to the Guineas with him having the fitness advantage."
Toormore is one of two runners for Hannon, who is also represented by Anjaal.
The Wiltshire trainer told his website, www.richardhannonracing.co.uk: "The great thing about Toormore is that he is totally uncomplicated - you can ride him from the front or from behind, and that is a big help.
"He thrived through the winter and has been working well this spring, and we think that he will love the track.
"He is such a great mover, so the Rowley Mile should suit him.
"We also run Anjaal, who won the July Stakes last year on the summer course.
"He ran well to finish fourth in the Dewhurst and has also been working well, so we go there with two decent chances."
The horse rated the biggest threat to the Hannon pair is Godolphin's Be Ready, who looked the part when running out a striking winner of a Listed prize at Doncaster last September.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: "Be Ready is doing well and working really nicely. This is a tough race to start his year but he will improve.
"He was always one of the nicest two-year-olds in my stable, that's why we started him off in a Listed race as we knew that he had the class.
"He looks stronger - he was weak last year - and is quiet, calm, relaxed and happy. He has done really well.
"He's starting to work really well but we will learn a lot more about him from this race.
"We missed the Dewhurst with him as we needed to give him a break - he was not ready for a Group One race and needed time.
"A mile and a quarter or a mile and a half might be fine for him.
"The way he does his work suggests a mile and a quarter but the longer trip is still a possibility."
Patentar made a big impression when winning a York maiden on his debut last October, but trainer Marco Botti is under no illusions about the task facing his inexperienced colt.
He said: "He has a very similar profile to Lat Hawill who we ran in the Greenham. He also has only had one race. They work together and there is not much between them.
"I just thought seven furlongs might be too sharp for Patentar which is why he's running in this.
"He's fit to run and I'm happy with him, but he faces a tough assignment taking on proper Group horses on just his second run.
"At least by running here we'll have a good idea of what we have and where we can go.
"He needs to improve a lot to challenge a horse like Toormore, so we'll see."
Luca Cumani's Postponed and The Grey Gatsby from Kevin Ryan's yard complete the sextet.