Masar impresses Appleby as he enters Guineas picture
Godolphin have had a few false dawns at the start of recent seasons, but Charlie Appleby's Masar set pulses racing yesterday with a devastating nine-length victory over White Mocha in the Craven Stakes, which puts him right in the 2,000 Guineas picture.
Back in third, to the sound of the year's first bubble going pop, was the odds-on Roaring Lion. The form of Masar, a New Approach colt, tailed off at the end of his two-year-old season, but yesterday he led all the way under William Buick.
The rider made the most of his mount's fitness and experience, kicking for home three furlongs out with the chestnut showing a terrific turn of foot and soon leaving his rivals trailing.
Although Appleby had made no secret of the fact that Masar, which had a run on the dirt in Dubai in March, was very fit and, by implication, might not improve much for the outing, it was nevertheless hard not to be impressed.
No horse handled Newmarket's dip and undulations better over the three-day meeting and, having been 33/1 for the Guineas at the start of the day, Masar was 8/1 before he was back in the winner's enclosure.
"He's been showing flashes of brilliance at home," said Buick.
"He always looked like a two-year-old who'd be a better three-year-old. You can put a line through his run on the dirt in Dubai - quite simply he's a grass horse - and he's now put everything together."
While Oisín Murphy felt Roaring Lion needed both the race and further, Appleby, who was completing the Nell Gwyn-Craven double having won the fillies' race with Soliloquy on Wednesday, admitted Masar was 100 per cent ready.
"It wasn't our intention to run him in Dubai," he said, "but he was too well. I felt we had to take the gas out of him. It was a no-lose situation because if he had run well we'd have run him in the UAE Derby, but if not we had a run under our belt. William said he quickened twice today, which is a good sign."
The hottest April day for 70 years in England, coming on the back of a wet winter, caused problems with overheating horses at Cheltenham and the stewards abandoned the three-mile Jrl Group Mares' Handicap Chase (3.50) because they considered the distance, combined with the heat, was a risk too many.
"They are finishing tired and we think it's because they are not acclimatised," said stewards secretary Simon Cowley. The other races, all two-milers, were run with horses dismounted and cooled down after. (© Daily Telegraph, London)