Pimpernel to lay down marker
ELUSIVE PIMPERNEL, a 16/1 shot for the English 2,000 Guineas, can enhance his Classic credentials by capturing today's Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
The John Dunlop-trained colt won a Newmarket maiden before catching the eye in the Acomb Stakes at York, when he swept from last to first to win by a head. He was not disgraced on his final start, finishing a three and three-quarter length second to Guineas and Derby favourite St Nicholas Abbey in the Racing Post Trophy when the soft ground seemed against him.
That form received a boost when Coordinated Cut, well behind in 10th place, won at Newmarket yesterday and two of today's rivals -- Dancing David and Morana -- were also behind at Doncaster.
"He's done well over the winter," said Dunlop, who has not had enough runners this season to be considered either in or out of form. "He has strengthened up and been working satisfactorily. His lead horse is his brother, Palavicini, who runs in the Earl of Sefton -- unfortunately the races are the wrong way round for Palavicini to give us any clues.
"He hits the ground quite hard, but fast ground seems to suit him."
On paper, though, it looks like the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, in which Arcano and Canford Cliffs run, is the better trial.
However, to come up with the Guineas winner we will also have to add to the equation those that will go straight to the race. One, the Mark Johnston-trained 10/1 shot Awzaan, worked nicely up the Rowley Mile yesterday and, depending on how Arcano performs, Richard Hills could be faced with a dilemma.
On the jumping front, Barry Geraghty landed yesterday's feature at Cheltenham when Duc De Regniere fought off David Pipe's I'm So Lucky in the Silver Trophy Chase.
Trainer Nicky Henderson would like his 100/30 winner to go for a valuable prize at the Perth Festival, but it is more likely he will not run again this season.
The Henderson-Geraghty team will also be at Prestbury Park today when their three runners all have chances, with good reports emanating about Semi Colon in the closing bumper.
Kerada is their representative in the featured Listed Mares Hurdle, but it could be worth chancing an each-way punt on Gordon Elliott's Serpentaria, which will have the benefit of promising conditional jockey Keith Donoghue, who impressed many observers yesterday with the cool ride he gave runner-up I'm So Lucky. (© Daily Telegraph, London)