04/15/2002 11:00PM

British racing season heats up


The slow-starting British flat racing season picked up steam on Tuesday as Misterah opened Newmarket's Craven Meeting with a 9-2 victory in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes.

Misterah, an Alhaarth filly trained by Marcus Tregoning for Hamdan Al Maktoum, ran down the pacesetting Massarra at the eighth pole to win by a length under Richard Hills, getting the seven furlongs in 1:24.72 on good to firm ground. Half Glance, the Henry Cecil-trained 3-1 favorite, was fifth.

A listed winner at 2, Misterah had put in her best previous effort when she was an unlucky third in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes in October. She will run next on May 5 as one of the favorites for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Thursday's Group 3 Craven Stakes, a key one-mile prep for the 2,000 Guineas on May 4, could go to King of Happiness, a son of Spinning World. A Doncaster maiden winner last fall for Michael Stoute, he will have to turn back recent maiden winner Flat Spin, last summer's Group 2 Richmond Stakes winner Mister Cosmi, and at least one of three possible Aidan O'Brien entrants from among Creekview, Della Francesca, and Ursa Minor.