04/18/2013 2:50PM

Europe: Hannon looking loaded for English 2000 Guineas

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Toronado made a strong 3-year-old return to the races Thursday at Newmarket, easily winning the Group 3 Craven Stakes, and on Saturday, another one of trainer Richard Hannon’s top sophomores, Olympic Glory, is set to make his 3-year-old bow in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

Toronado, a son of High Chaparral, ran his career mark to 4 wins from 4 starts with a four-length victory over stablemate Havana Gold in the four-horse Craven, a one-mile course-and-distance prep for the English 2000 Guineas, run on May 4 this year. With no other pace signed on in the race, jockey Richard Hughes let Toronado go to the front, and he set a comfortable tempo racing down the undulating Newmarket straight course. With the quartet racing single-file, Dundonnell made some mid-race inroads on Toronado’s lead, but was being ridden to do so while Hughes sat motionless. When Toronado was asked to quicken in the final furlong-and-a-half, he smoothly pulled away from the chasers and won under little pressure, stopping the timer in 1:35.19 on a course rated good-to-firm. Havana Gold, making a moderate late move, nipped Dundonnell for the place, while Tawhid never got untracked on a course said to be firmer than he prefers.

Toronado’s victory vaulted him into clear second-favoritism behind Dawn Approach in antepost 2000 Guineas betting. On Saturday at Newbury, Toronado’s stablemate Olympic Glory can show where he might fit in the English Classics pecking order. Hannon said earlier this week that Olympic Glory probably had been underrated by his operation early in his 2-year-old season, and indeed, Olympic Glory wound up winning 4 of his 5 starts in 2012, his only loss a three-quarter-length defeat by Dawn Approach in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot. Olympic Glory capped his campaign with a victory in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp and should be solidly favored to defeat four rivals, headed by Moohaajim, in the seven-furlong Greenham.

Hannon also has a contender, Maureen, in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes, the co-feature Saturday at Newbury. The race, a prep for the English 1000 Guineas, drew a field of 10 and includes The Gold Cheongsam, last seen finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

◗ In other Thursday results at Newmarket, Mull of Killough won the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes for older horses at nine furlongs, while the Henry Cecil-trained 4-year-old filly Tickled Pink looked progressive winning the Group 3 Abernant Stakes.