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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:

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.”