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Horse Racing - Racing: Flat stars coming out to play

With the bet365 Craven Meeting in full flow this week at Newmarket, the Flat season is now officially swinging into full stride.

The Guineas Festival is a little over two weeks away and after that, it will be Chester, York, the Epsom Classics and Royal Ascot in a spine-tingling six weeks sure to see plenty of new stars emerge.

You can read our preview of the bet365 Craven Meeting here, while below we've got a look ahead to the upcoming season on the Flat, with all the action set to be shown on our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Guineas Weekend closing in already

The Grand National is still visible in the rear-view mirror and yet just a fortnight from this weekend it will be the Guineas Festival at Newmarket.

Native Trail, the outstanding colt last season in Britain and Ireland, was the 2000 Guineas' ante-post winter favourite at 9/4 for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin and all eyes are likely to be on him come the opening Classic on the Rowley Mile on 30th April.

His stablemate Coroebus is right towards the front of the market at 7/2, ensuring the Newmarket handler has a strong team, with Appleby confirming that particular contender will reappear in the Guineas.

The Irish challenge is sure to be strong, a year after Poetic Flare made it four wins in five years for the raiding party in this contest. Leading the way looks to be Aidan O'Brien's Luxembourg, priced at 9/2, as the Ballydoyle supremo bids for a record-extending 11th success in the Newmarket Group 1.

Luxembourg won all three starts last season, culminating in the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster in October and there could be plenty more in his tank as a three-year-old.

Inspiral the filly to get excited by

May begins with the 1000 Guineas on Sunday 1st and the opening Fillies' Classic promises so much. There's always an extra allure when it comes to an unbeaten record and so we find that with John & Thady Gosden's Inspiral, rated 11/4 to win the Rowley Mile Classic.

She made steady progress through the grades last season, going from a Newmarket maiden in June via Sandown (Listed) and Doncaster (Group 2) before ending with a powerful win in the bet365 Fillies' Mile back at Headquarters in October.

The daughter of Frankel is hugely exciting and this race will surely revolve around her, though Tenebrism, the Cheveley Park Stakes winner last season for O'Brien, is another unbeaten filly (two wins) and might have plenty to say for herself, though she has yet to race beyond six-furlongs.

Her trainer is bidding to win the 1000 Guineas for the sixth time in seven years – with only rank outsider Billesdon Brook in 2018 denying O'Brien since 2016. Tenebrism is 4/1 for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

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Native Trail among bet365 Craven Meeting stars

Appleby and Buick set for big summer

If the start of the Craven Meeting was anything to go by, Charlie Appleby and William Buick are going to be the major force in British Flat racing this season.

Buick is 2/5 to be crowned champion jockey, with defending champ Oisin Murphy sidelined. He was in excellent form as the new season got going at HQ.

Appleby, meanwhile, has done more than most to restore Godolphin to the top table. Ever since Masar won The Derby at Epsom in 2018, Appleby's star has been on the ascent.

Buick was imperious at Newmarket on day one of the Craven Meeting, riding a three-timer, two for Appleby and one for George Boughey.

Amongst those was Masters Of The Seas, last year's 2000 Guineas runner-up. Gelded over the winter, he was a strong-travelling winner of the Earl Of Sefton Stakes when stepped up to nine-furlongs.

Though the Lockinge has been mooted, Appleby confirmed the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on 14th June is the race he's got marked in the calendar as the main target for Master Of The Seas.

Excitement builds for Baaeed

If Appleby is eager to skip the Lockinge at Newbury in mid-May with Master Of The Seas, then it's safe to assume the reason why.

He admitted recently that avoiding an early season tussle with William Haggas' star miler Baaeed is the idea.

Baaeed made rapid progress last summer, the Sea The Stars colt having raced for the first time at Leicester in June.

His third start was a Listed success at Newmarket over a mile and by season's end he'd won Group 1s at Longchamp and Ascot, taking the scalp of Europe's top-ranked miler Palace Pier in the QEII on British Champions Day to complete his six-race winning sequence.

A clash with Master Of The Seas is very much on the cards at Royal Ascot in the Queen Anne, but not in the Lockinge. At this moment, Baaeed might just be the most exciting colt in training.

Could Royal runner land The Derby?

Of course, one race in the Flat season still outshines them all. This year's Derby at Epsom comes on Saturday 4th June and it will be a significant renewal as it forms part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year.

What chance then of a Royal winner in the oldest Classic of them all? Decent, it seems.

Reach For The Moon, trained by John & Thady Gosden and another son of Sea The Stars, was the winner of the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown last year and a runner-up in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last time out before a setback cut short his juvenile term.

Described by Frankie Dettori as 'babyish' last season, connections will be hoping he's grown up over the winter and he's in the Derby betting at 10/1.

What a story it would be should he provide Her Majesty with the winner at Epsom in June.

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