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Skardu enters QIPCO 2000 Guineas picture by claiming Craven

17 Apr 2019

William Haggas says "I think we can get a bit excited" after his promising colt lands Guineas trial at Newmarket.

Skardu pounced from off the pace to land the Craven Stakes. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Skardu put himself firmly in the picture for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday fortnight by coming home strongly to win the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Seen as a key trial for the 2000 Guineas, the first race in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series on May 5, William Haggas will now be feeling he has a chance of landing the Classic for the first time with the son of Shamardal.

Just like Qabala, the winner of the Nell Gwyn 24 hours earlier, Skardu lined up having had just the one run at two – but late market support forced him into 3-1 and proved telling.

Like Qabala, Skardu featured in our Dark Horses series this winter.

Settled at the rear by James Doyle, he challenged late after Set Piece had made a big move down the outside.

Roger Charlton’s Momkin then burst through near the rails to momentarily hit the front, before Skardu just gained the upper hand to win by a neck, with Set Piece a length and three-quarters away in third.

Royal Marine, a Group One winner last year, was not in the best position before staying on for fourth.

Bookmakers slashed Skardu in the Guineas betting. Paddy Power and Betfair both went 6-1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill going 10-1.

Haggas said: “I was quite pleased with him, but I don’t know what the form is like. He had a nice race and relaxed well. He showed a nice turn of foot and won.

“He surprised me when he won (first time out), but he performed well. I thought he looked good beforehand today. He was very calm and performed well in the race.

“He has gone from a maiden to a Group Three, so hopefully there is a bit more in him. He doesn’t do a lot at home. I think we can get a bit excited.

“James said he had to take a pull three out, but we are trying to educate a horse that is trying to go into the fast lane, as he has got a lot to learn. I can’t fault him at the moment.”

He added: “If all things are equal he will be running (in the Guineas).

“His owner is from Bahrain. I spoke to him half an hour before and he answered on the first ring, I said I would call him straight after – he will be over the moon.”