04/12/2010 11:00PM

Elusive Pimpernel heads Craven cast


The performance of Elusive Pimpernel in Wednesday's Group 3, $100,000 Craven Stakes should tell us a great deal about the quality of Europe's 3-year-old milers at this still very early stage. A son of Elusive Quality trained by John Dunlop, Elusive Pimpernel was second by 3 3/4 lengths to the European juvenile champion, St Nicholas Abbey, in the Racing Post Trophy in October. He is well suited to the straight Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket, over which he broke his maiden going seven furlongs in July.

A half-brother to 1 1/8-mile, Group 3 Strensall Stakes winner Palavicini, Elusive Pimpernel next won the seven-furlong, Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York. Ryan Moore will ride him for the first time Wednesday in this one-mile, 2000 Guineas trial.

Dancing David and Morana were fourth and fifth in the Racing Post Trophy, with Morana previously having landed Ascot's one-mile, Group 3 Autumn Stakes. The big threat to Elusive Pimpernel, however, could be the Richard Hannon-trained Lucky General, who was last seen winning the $2.3 million Goffs Million Sprint going six furlongs at the Curragh on Sept. 27.

Palavacini himself will line up for the Group 3, $100,000 Earl of Sefton Stakes at the Strensall distance of 1 1/8 miles. Trained like Elusive Pimpernel by John Dunlop for Windflower Overseas Holdings, he was most recently third on Oct. 16 in the Group 3 Darley Stakes over the course and distance to Steele Tango, who will try to better his second-place finish in last year's Earl of Sefton. Sri Putra, winner of the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano, will play a role, as will Tranquil Tiger, who has won his last three starts on the Lingfield Polytrack, the latest in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Winter Derby.

The intriguing Sans Frontieres, a Galileo 4-year-old trained by Jeremy Noseda, returns in the Earl of Sefton off an 11-month absence. Second to Delegator in last year's Craven Stakes, he was next third to Black Bear Island in the 1 5/16-mile, Group 2 Dante Stakes, after which he suffered an unspecified setback.