Godolphin primed for explosive start to new UK season

History augurs well for Native Trail who is 2-2 at the Rowley Mile track

By Leslie Wilson Jr

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Native Trail will bid to lay down a marker for the rest of the season. (Supplied photo)
Native Trail will bid to lay down a marker for the rest of the season. (Supplied photo)

Published: Tue 12 Apr 2022, 12:47 AM

Godolphin launch their 2022 international season at Newmarket Racecourse in the UK on Tuesday when the historical horseracing venue hosts the Craven Meeting, a three-century-old festival that offers plenty of Classic clues.

The showpiece race is the Group 3 Craven Stakes on Wednesday, a key trial for Group 1 2,000 Guineas, the first of five epic races for three-year-olds and which takes place in three weeks.

Heading the powerful Dubai-owned raiding party is the unbeaten champion Native Trail, who is one of the hottest favourites ever to line up in the mile contest.

A Charlie Appleby trainee, Native Trail will bid to lay down a marker for the rest of the season when he faces six rivals including fellow Dubai-owned Al Mubhir who races in the colours of Sheikh Juma Dalmouk Al Maktoum.

A dual Group 1-winning colt, Native Trail will also bid to extend his unbeaten record to five from five which will set him nicely for the Guineas, a race which Appleby is hoping to win for the first time in his career.

Appleby and jockey William Buick combined with another Godolphin-owned galloper, Master Of The Seas, who runs in Tuesday’s feature race, the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes, to land the prestigious Craven last year.

“We are looking forward to seeing Native Trail get his three-year-old season started. He has wintered very well and we have been pleased with his preparation, so we don’t have any negatives going into this,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.

“William Buick has ridden him plenty lately and the whole team is very happy with where the horse is. It’s only two and a half weeks until the 2,000 Guineas, so we feel he is not going to need the run in the Craven, but it will help click his racing brain back into gear. It’s of more benefit mentally rather than physically.”

History augurs well for Native Trail who is 2-2 at the Rowley Mile track, having previously won the Dubai Dewhurst and Superlative Stakes in his juvenile season.

Trends favour horses who have won their previous start at Newmarket with seven of the last 11 winners having posted back-to-back wins at the venue,

Appleby and Buick are also looking to win the Craven for a third time following the success of Master of the Seas (2021) and Masar (2018).

Al Muhhir, a smart son of superstar Frankel, brings solid form into the Craven having had five subsequent winners trailing in his wake when making a dream debut in his maiden at Newmarket last October.

Another contender with strong form is October debut winner Star Of India, who can end big-race Irish handler Aidan O’Brien’s long wait for a first win in the Craven.

The field is brimming with talent with hat-trick seeking Zechariah, recent Listed runner-up Hoo Ya Mal and debut scorer Kingmax completing the field.

Meanwhile, the Master Of The Seas can provide Godolphin with the perfect lift-off for the new season should he run up to the expectations in the G3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes on Tuesday.

The son of Dubai steps up to nine furlongs for the first time after his intended run over the trip in the G1 Breeders’ Cu Mile last year, did not materialise when he was withdrawn during the stalling process.

The feature event on day three at the Newmarket is the Felden Stakes where once again Appleby looks to have strong claims with the two-time winner Blue Trail.

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