Europe’s champion two-year-old Toormore has made a winning start to his three-year-old season with victory in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
The 2000 Guineas dream is still alive for the Middleham Park Racing Syndicate, even if a two-length defeat of The Grey Gatsby was not quite the margin to worry connections of the Classic favourite Kingman.
With his close market rival Be Ready a disappointing last, Toormore (evens fav) led for the majority of the mile (1600m) event and Ryan Moore was always able to keep the small field at bay.
Although trainer Richard Hannon insisted no more could have been expected from the still unbeaten colt, bookmakers Coral pushed his Guineas price to 8-1 from 5-1, the odds he remains with Ladbrokes.
“He idled a bit and had a lot of daylight but every time Ryan gave him a kick he went on,” Hannon said.
“He’s not a flashy horse and he was never going to come here and win by six lengths even if he could.
“He wasn’t as impressive as Kingman (in the Greenham), but he’s not that sort of horse.”
Aside from the eclipse of Be Ready, there was good news for the Godolphin operation.
Farhh was retired to stud after winning last year’s Champion Stakes but his little brother Basem (5-2 fav) looked one for the future after making up a fair bit of ground in the Ditton Stakes.
“I always liked him and there was nothing wrong with him last year, he was just a bit weak,” trainer Saeed bin Suroor said.
“I’m sure he’ll improve for this race. A mile and a quarter (2000m) is a good distance for him and we’ll find a conditions race for him. After his second race, we’ll know more.”
Sheikh Mohammed has yet another nice middle-distance prospect in Sudden Wonder (7-1), who edged out the promising Observational by a head in the Tattersalls Millions 3YO Trophy.