04/19/2012 5:01PM

Newmarket: Trumpet Major best in Craven Stakes


In England this week racing's focus is on 3-year-olds, with the 3-year-old class of 2012 sorting itself out in advance of the season's first classic, the 2000 Guineas on May 5 at Newmarket, but the results of Thursday's Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket might not have done much to clear the Guineas picture.

Race favorite Most Improved was scratched Thursday because of a minor lameness (he could still make the 2000 Guineas starting gate, according to trainer Brian Meehan), and in his absence the one-mile Craven might have lacked much depth. The favored Mighty Ambition, a Godolphin runner, never kicked into high gear and wound up a one-paced fifth as Trumpet Major led a one-two sweep for trainer Richard Hannon, with Crius home second a full five lengths behind the winner.

Trumpet Major, by Arakan, was starting for the first time at 3 after winning 3 of his 8 starts as a juvenile, the last of them producing a fifth-place finish in the Group 1 Dewhurst, where Most Improved finished third.

Racing mid-pack Thursday under Ryan Moore, Trumpet Major came between horses about 1 1/2 furlongs from the finish, taking the lead and steadily lengthening his advantage under solid encouragement. He ran a straight-course mile over good-to-soft going in 1:37.44 while never challenged in the final eighth of a mile. Crius and third-place Eastern Sun both were among the pace-makers in a race where only the winner finished with much gusto.

Saturday at Newbury brings more 3-year-old stakes activity, with seven horses entered in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, the race Frankel used as his lead-in to a Guineas triumph. Juddmonte Farms, Frankel's breeder and owner, has another horse for this year's race in Top Officer, but while he was a promising enough Newbury maiden winner in his lone career start last fall, he has a long road to travel before being mentioned in the same breath as Frankel.

Also in the Greenham is Caspar Netscher, who finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf when he last action.

The first two home in the Dewhurst, Parish Hall and Power, have yet to race in 2012, while waiting in the wings is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Camelot, the heavy ante-post Guineas favorite.

* Veteran campaigner Twice Over took a tough nose loss to Questioning while making his 2012 debut Thursday in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes, also at Newmarket.