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War Decree one of four O'Brien entries for Newmarket showpiece

War Decree (middle): could begin his three-year-old campaign in the bet365 Craven Stakes
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War Decree, a general 16-1 chance for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, heads a four-strong Aidan O’Brien charge at the entry stage for Thursday’s Group 3 bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Winner of two of his three starts as a juvenile, including the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, the son of War Front may bid to give his trainer a first Craven success.

Peace Envoy, Whitecliffsofdover and recent Leopardstown runner-up Taj Mahal make up the Ballydoyle quartet.

Rivet, winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy for William Haggas last October, boasts the highest official rating (115) of the 16 entries.

The Richard Hannon stable, which boasts a magnificent record in the race, having won it four times in the last five years via Trumpet Major (2012), Toronado (2013), Toormore (2014) and Kool Kompany (2015), could rely on Larchmont Lad, successful in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket last September.

Saeed Bin Suroor has entered Benbatl and Dream Castle, while Godolphin have a third possible in the Charlie Appleby-trained Salsabeel.

Michael Prosser, director of racing at Newmarket, said on Friday: “It’s an outstanding entry for the bet365 Craven Stakes.

“There is a Group 1 winner in Rivet and Aidan O’Brien has four entries. There is great depth to the race and it looks a tremendous trial for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.”

Prosser revealed Newmarket’s 2017 season could get under way on “perfect ground conditions” on Tuesday.

“It’s been a mild spring and we’re in a very good place as far as the ground is concerned,” he said. “We could start the meeting on perfect, good ground.”

Craven Stakes entries

There is great depth to the race and it looks a tremendous trial for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas
E.W. Terms