Gosden hoping Faydhan can show his Classic potential
The nascent Flat season steps up another gear today when the Craven meeting marks the start of four days of intensive Classic trials split between Newmarket and Newbury.
While today's Nell Gwyn and tomorrow's Craven Stakes are the recognised Guineas dress rehearsals on the Rowley Mile, it is quite possible this time that the biggest clues will come from a less obvious direction: today's European Free Handicap and a gallop at Newbury after racing on Friday when Andrew Balding will take the wraps off Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park.
John Gosden has chosen the Free Handicap to give Faydhan some valuable experience. The War Front colt beat Dutch Connection by six lengths in a six-furlong Haydock maiden on his only start last season.
The runner-up went on to win the Acomb and finish two-and-a-half lengths behind Gleneagles, the 2,000 Guineas favourite, in the National Stakes at the Curragh. Faydhan, however, went on to suffer a leg injury and was not seen again. At the weights he needs to be winning this trial with a good bit in hand.
Richard Hannon's Osaila looks the pick of the fillies in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes but Ryan Moore is an interesting booking for John Gosden's Khalid Abdullah-owned Lady Correspondent. Like Faydhan she was the ready winner of her only start - over course and distance - and could be the better long-term prospect. Godolphin's Beautiful Romance was also a wide-margin winner on her only start and looks interesting.
Moore is in the plate for Ireland's sole representative on the card, the Aidan O'Brien-trained The Warrior which bids for glory in the £100,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint.
A winner of a Curragh maiden on soft ground, the Ballydoyle colt should appreciate the better ground but there may be better value to be had in Ralph Beckett's Encore D'or.
Despite being backward as a two-year-old, the Oasis Dream colt got off the mark on his third start with a seven-length romp in a Wolverhampton maiden in October and there could be more improvement to come. (© Daily Telegraph, London)