Craven Stakes Betting

The long winter wait ends and the racing season begins anew in mid-April at Newmarket’s historic two-day Craven Meeting. The featured event on the second day of racing is the one-mile Craven Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, which draws considerable attention as a key trial for the 2000 Guineas held here a few weeks later.

This £50,000 Group 3 event takes place on the straight turf of Newmarket’s famed Rowley Mile. Each of the starters carries eight stone twelve pounds, with a three-pound penalty applied to any winners of previous Group 1 or Group 2 events.

The history of the Craven Stakes stretches back to 1878, when it was won by a stallion known as Thurio. One of the most famous horses to win both this race and the 2000 Guineas was My Babu in 1948. In 1986, Dancing Brave used the double victory as his first two wins in a career that went eight for ten. The most recent three-year-old to capture both was the chestnut named Haafhd in 2004.

Back in the 1980s, Charles Heidsieck Champagne was the title sponsor of this event. For most the 1990s, there was no sponsor, and then The City Index came on board in 1997. Since the turn of the new millennium, the Craven Stakes has seen many backers come and go, including, Macau Jockey Club, bet365, Unicorn Asset Management and Bansha House Stables.

Then in 2010, in cooperation with Tattersalls, the highly regarded publisher The Racing Post launched its Breeze Up Bonus Scheme with a prize fund of up to £500,000 for graduates of six different two-year-old breeze up sales in Britain, Ireland and France. In conjunction with this move, title sponsorship of the race was also assumed and it has since been known as The Racing Post Craven Stakes.

A little over a century ago, one jockey went on a winning spree here that no rider has been able to match. Morny Cannon piloted six winners in 14 years, including Harbinger in 1893, Sempronius in 1894, Guernsey in 1897, Solennis in 1899, Port Blair in 1902 and His Eminence in 1906.

In the modern era, Walter Swinburn mounted four winners between 1986 and 1989. Since then, no other jockey has managed to claim more than a pair of wins, including Michael Kinane, John Reid, Richard Hughes and Kieren Fallon.

On the other hand, the leading trainer at the Craven Stakes has eight fairly recent victories to his credit. Sir Michael Stoute got his first win here with Shadeed in 1985. He then schooled three of Swinburn’s four winners: Ajdal in 1987, Doyoun in 1988 and Shaadi in 1989. Then came Alnasr Alwasheek in 1992, Desert Story in 1997, King of Happiness in 2002 and finally Adagio in 2007.

Favourites have had something of a stranglehold on this event of late. They have won four of the most recent five outings. Leading off was 5/4 Adagio, followed by 4/6 Delegator in 2009, 10/11 Elusive Pimpernel in 2010 and 8/11 Native Khan in 2011. The 2008 edition of the Craven Stakes came within a shoulder of going the same way, as 11/8 favourite Raven’s Pass narrowly missed beating 9/4 Twice Over.

Those who like backing long shots have to look back with fondness to 2001, when King’s Ironbridge paid 12/1. The last horse to succeed here at double-digit odds was Democratic Deficit in 2005, also paying 12/1.

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