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Lush Ground Awaits Some One Thousand Guineas Hopefuls

Newmarket's Craven meeting begins April 16; Nell Gwyn Stakes (G3) scheduled April 17.

Trainer Charlie Appleby plans to send out group 3 winner Dance Sequence for her 3-year-old debut April 17 in the Nell Gwyn Stakes

Trainer Charlie Appleby plans to send out group 3 winner Dance Sequence for her 3-year-old debut April 17 in the Nell Gwyn Stakes

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

The three-day Craven meeting heralds the start of the season at Newmarket, and the April 16 fixture will be the first under the supervision of new clerk of the course Andrew Morris. 

It is unlikely that in 23 years at the helm his predecessor Michael Prosser was ever faced with quite such lush growing conditions as Morris has encountered, not that the new man is complaining.

"It's been an incredibly interesting few months, with the wettest winter on record and one of the wettest springs," said Morris, whose previous posts include being clerk at Bangor and Chester, as well as a year as racing manager at Moonee Valley in Australia. "At one point there was a lane shut on the A14 because of flooding, which is unheard of.

"Although it's been difficult in terms of getting machinery on the track, the condition of the sward and the general condition of the track is further forward than it might normally be. 

"That is due to the wet weather and the fact that temperatures have remained pretty mild, apart from the first 10 days in January. The grass growth got going earlier in the spring than you might expect, so we're really pleased with where we stand."

A dry and relatively warm end to last week had brought the GoingStick down to a mixture of good and good-to-firm ground, although Newmarket was buffeted by a series of sharp showers Monday, amounting to 4 millimeters of rain and is now officially good.

Tuesday's card is headlined by a mile handicap and a seven-furlong conditions race for 3-year-olds, while 11 fillies have been declared for Wednesday's Nell Gwyn Stakes (G3) at seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies.

In the Nell Gwyn, trainer Charlie Appleby will take the wraps off Dance Sequence, who is no bigger than 6-1 for the One Thousand Guineas (G1) and makes her first start since winning her second race in as many starts in the Oh So Sharp Stakes (G3) last autumn. Also, Aidan O'Brien gives a first start over seven furlongs to Matrika, a 20-1 shot for the One Thousand Guineas who was second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot before landing the Airlie Stud Stakes (G2) at the Curragh eight days later. 

On Tuesday, Hugo Palmer will give impressive Newcastle winner Kitteridge a feel of the turf, while Charlie Johnston will gallop group 3 winner and Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) third-place finisher Sacred Angel.

Appleby will be out early Wednesday with Futurity Trophy Stakes (G1) winner Ancient Wisdom, while other pre-racing workers include the Karl Burke trio of Night Raider, Fallen Angel, and Darnation, as well as group 2 winner Iberian for Charlie Hills and the Owen Burrows-trained group 3 winner Alyanaabi, who was last seen chasing home City Of Troy in the Dewhurst Stakes (G1). 

Looking at the meeting, Morris said: "Hopefully it's exactly what the Craven is meant to be. It's a really exciting start to the Newmarket season with really competitive racing but interlaced with some classic prospects and some fantastic young novices."