Breathtaking Toronado blows Craven apart
Report: Newmarket (Rowley Mile), Thursday
Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes (Group 3) 1m, 3yo colts and geldings
NEWMARKET'S two-day meeting is named after the Craven Stakes and it wouldn't be a surprise if this year's winner, the Richard Hannon-trained Toronado, goes on to have a race named in his honour, such was the impression he created.
Now unbeaten in four starts, it was the sort of performance that oozed class, Richard Hughes motionless throughout until gently pushing his mount out to the line inside the final furlong with no need to even consider the whip for an authoritative romp.
"He's a machine. He quickened, and he quickened again. He's a very good horse. He'll come back here for the Guineas and whatever beats him will win," said a delighted Hannon.
"He's not quite there in his coat, but when he comes back in two weeks he'll look a lot better. He's been working so well, and with a lot of good horses.
"The second [Havana Gold - also trained by Hannon] is no mug either. I said to Hughesie if it got messy let him run as we know he stays."
Hughes added: "I'd have been gutted if he hadn't won like that. He quickened away, and when he got into the Dip he went away again up the hill. Not many do that."
Sent off the 8-11 favourite, Toronado led the field of four as they covered the Qipco 2,000 Guineas course, albeit at a more sedate pace than can be expected next month. With no-one willing to make it, Hughes cut out his own fractions but had his mount settled in front and the pair cruised through the early stages with Dundonnell sat second, with Havana Gold ahead of backmarker Tawhid.
Yet the further they went, the more in control Hughes looked. Tawhid never really travelled and was struggling to remain in contention at halfway, but soon Dundonnell and Havana Gold - both Group 3 winners at two - also came under pressure.
Richard Hughes: "I'd have been gutted if he hadn't won like that"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Yet Hughes remained statuesque in front, Toronado piling the pace on and blowing his rivals out the back door, and then, when asked to quicken, the response was impressive.
A length lead at the furlong pole had become four by the finish line, with Havana Gold just getting up for a Hannon one-two, Dundonnell flattening out having been given every chance by James Doyle.
A four-runner Craven can hardly go down as one of the most imformative of all time, but Toronado confirmed he was comfortably better than very good horses. Nothing he has met so far has been able to live with him and the manner of his success prompted the mass cutting of his price for his return date over course and distance on May 4.
Betfred were most impressed, going 3-1 (from 6) for the 2,000 Guineas, while BetVictor went 7-2 (from 6) andCoral went just as short (from 7). Paddy Power and Betfair go 4-1 (from 7), while Boylesports go 9-2 for the Newmarket Classic and 9-1 (from 10) for the Derby, for which Paddy Power and Betfred go 8-1 (from 16), with Coral going shortest at 7-1 (from 14).
On the prospect of Toronado staying the Derby trip, Hannon added: "I've no doubt he'll get a mile and a half, and he's got the speed to go round Epsom, and if I did that I might retire."
While Hughes added: "He's bred to get the Derby trip, but now he's got stronger he's got a bit more pace." Hannon also suggested Havana Gold is "crying out for 1m2f."
Roger Charlton, trainer of third-placed Dundonnell, said: "We will see how he comes out of this as regards the 2,000 Guineas but I was not surprised he got tired and I told James not to be hard on him."
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of fourth-home Tawhid, added: " He needed the race and really wants some cut in the ground."