Roger Varian is convinced Aljamaaheer can thrive dropped to six furlongsPICTURE: Getty Images
Dropping Aljamaaheer in trip has Varian excited
ROGER VARIAN is not short on quality in the sprinting department but feels Aljamaaheer could prove to be the best of a talented bunch.
With such as Justineo and Morawij already at Kremlin House, the decision to drop the Group 2 Summer Mile winner in trip might surprise some, but Varian is convinced Aljamaaheer can thrive as he tackles six furlongs for the first time since his debut.
Following that Yarmouth maiden success in 2011, the five-year-old has raced exclusively at seven furlongs or a mile, developing into a consistent big-race performer.
While Aljamaaheer was hitting the frame at the highest level in the Lockinge (third) and Queen Anne (second) last season, today's rival Tropics was starting his meteoric rise with three runs at Windsor.
Dean Ivory's stable star soared 32lb in five months after signing off last season with a Group 3 victory at Ascot, for which he carries a 4lb penalty today. The trainer, who has assembled a strong team for tomorrow's All-Weather Championships at Lingfield, will be hoping Tropics can spark his stable into life after having just two winners from 60 runners this year.
Three contenders renew rivalry after making their seasonal debuts in last month's Cammidge Trophy. Dinkum Diamond is back on the career-high mark (108) he achieved four years ago as a juvenile after winning the Doncaster race, while Heaven's Guest finished a place ahead of Tropics in sixth.
Spencer takes over
Hamza, who won over course and distance in the sprint handicap on 1,000 Guineas day last season, will be partnered by Jamie Spencer for the first time on his 26th start.
What they say
Dean Ivory, trainer of Tropics
He hated the ground at Doncaster. It can be hard to get them fit first time and he needed the run. The Rowley Mile doesn't suit all horses but I'm sure he'll handle it. He's big and strong so should be able to carry the penalty, and he'll like the ground.
Roger Varian, trainer of Aljamaaheer
He's always shown masses of pace and I'm excited to be finally trying him again at six furlongs. It hasn't meant a great change in his training - he's got natural speed - and if he proves as effective at six as he is at a mile it gives us so many options. The hope is to win a Group 1 this year and he's a very exciting prospect.
Henry Candy, trainer of Dinkum Diamond
I'm very happy with him but one or two of the opposition might be better this time, so I'm hoping for a place.
Clive Cox, trainer of Es Que Love
He's a good, consistent performer and we're happy to have him in the team. He's had a nice winter break, has trained really well and this looks a good opportunity to get him moving.
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Hamza
He ran very well at Meydan on World Cup night in a race in which the course record was smashed. That confirmed he's still improving as a sprinter and he came back well from Dubai.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Heaven's Guest
He didn't look great on his return but he takes some getting fit so it will have brought him on. He looks up against it as he has a few pounds to find.
Favourites have a good record in the Craven Stakes (Newmarket 4.05) in recent years - since 2007 the market leader has finished 1211151 (+£2.28 to £1 stakes.) Odds-on shots are four from four since 2009 (+£3.03).
Mark Johnston has an ordinary record with his two-year-olds at Ripon - in the last five seasons he has scored just once from 36 runners for a loss of £27.50 to £1 stakes. Mistress Makfi can be opposed on that stat at 1.55.
Pointers courtesy of Raceform Interactive
Cheltenham: Good (watered)
Newmarket: Good, good to firm in places (watered)