‘Class act’ Master Of The Seas sets sail in Craven

Master Of The Seas got the better of stablemate La Barrosa as Godolphin dominated the finish to the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Master Of The Seas had looked every inch a top-class colt in the making when winning the Superlative Stakes on the July Course last summer, and while he could only finish fourth stepped up to Group One level for the National Stakes in Ireland he again showed his ability there.

Although beaten at odds-on by fellow Charlie Appleby-trained colt Naval Crown at Meydan in February, the son of Dubawi was the 11-4 favourite to recoup those losses on the Rowley Mile and ultimately got the job done in pleasing fashion.

Sporting a hood for the first time, Master Of The Seas was keen during the early stages before settling into a rhythm.

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His supporters will have been sweating at the halfway stage, with the market leader seemingly stuck behind a wall of horses – but once switched wide for racing room, William Buick’s mount quickly found top gear to run down La Barrosa and score by three-quarters of a length.

Coral cut Master Of The Seas to 12-1 from 16-1 for next month’s Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Appleby said: “I’ll be honest, it wasn’t quite how we planned it as the plan was for La Barrosa to pop out and set a nice gallop and maybe come up the middle to give everyone racing room, but it didn’t materialise.

“He ended up just over-racing, but he was a bit fresh as well. I was pleased with how he ran.

“Master Of The Seas was the class act in the race, I was never disappointed with him in Meydan as our eyes were on a European campaign.

Master Of The Seas impressed in the Craven
Master Of The Seas impressed in the Craven (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“William had to ask him a few questions there, he had to go through the gears going into the dip which is hard for horses, but he’s very well balanced. He picked up well and went through the line strong.

“It was very pleasing by the pair of them. The hood helped Master Of The Seas settle and we’ll probably keep it on for the Guineas.

“I’ve been very pleased with One Ruler’s prep as well so it’s a nice position to be in to have two or three nice chances for the Guineas.”

He added: “We’ll see how this horse comes out of this race before William decides who to ride, but it might be hard to get off a Craven winner, he’s probably achieved more and has match fitness on his side. The Craven is a fantastic trial. We’ll chunter away and try to come up with the right horses.

“France for La Barrosa might come into it, we’ll just have to see. That was quick ground today, but they didn’t mind it.

“As that was La Barrosa’s first run of the season he’s entitled to come forward. Whether they’ll get closer, I don’t mind as long as one is in front.

“Master Of The Seas is speedier than One Ruler, he’s a bigger, scopier type. I think 10 furlongs will be his trip in time. I have been delighted with One Ruler’s prep though, and didn’t feel the need to run him in a trial.”

Master Of The Seas ready for Craven mission

What should prove an informative bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday has attracted a field of 10, with Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien both holding strong hands in the Group Three contest.

Heading the market is the Appleby-trained Master Of The Seas, who was fourth in a strong renewal of the National Stakes at the Curragh in September and reappeared at Meydan in February.

He was beaten at odds-on there, but confidence appears high in the Appleby camp that he has progressed in the manner required. Interestingly, in 2018 the same yard’s Masar was beaten in Dubai before going on to win the Craven, finish third in the 2000 Guineas and land the Derby.

Appleby said: “He is a horse we went to Dubai with, knowing that our aim was to be here for the Craven. As we know it is a long season, whatever he was going to do out there, we were hopeful that we would see plenty of improvement – which we have seen.

“He has come out of the race well and has done well. He shipped back into England a week ago, and we are looking forward to the Craven.

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“He has got some great form. He won his maiden here, then he won the Superlative on the July Course and he wasn’t disgraced in the National Stakes, where I feel he didn’t show his true running as he was very keen early on.

“He was keen in Meydan, and we are going to apply the hood in the race as he has gone to post with one on to the start in his last race. Hopefully that will help him switch off and do it the right way round. This was always going to be our plan. The mile suits him, and he was doing his best work towards the end at Meydan and he kept on nicely towards the line.”

Stablemate La Barrosa picked up Group Three honours last year in the Tattersalls Stakes over seven furlongs of the Rowley Mile, before trying Group One company in the Criterium International, finishing fifth of six to O’Brien’s Van Gogh.

La Barrosa remains unexposed
La Barrosa remains unexposed (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Appleby said: “One box he does tick is that he is already a course winner, and the mile will suit him. I think you can put a line through that last run of his in France as it was in very soft ground at the backend of the year. His preparation has gone faultlessly. He looks great.

“They are two horses that both bring Group-race form into it – and on two-year-old form they are the two picks. It got a bit tight on the rail in the Group Three here, but he got the gap and showed a bit of class and acceleration to get his head on front.”

Khartoum (Ryan Moore) and Sandhurst (Frankie Dettori) represent Ballydoyle hopes. Both had two starts as juveniles, each winning the second of them.

Away from the Appleby and O’Brien runners, the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Royal Air Force is interesting – stepping up markedly in class after winning a novice event at Yarmouth in June, having not been seen since.

He was impressive there, however, and Ed Crisford said: “I walked the track on Tuesday, and the ground was lovely, while the mile will suit him. I think it is a very ambitious task as it looks a hard race, but he has been doing well and he deserves to be there.

“He was impressive at Yarmouth – and although it was only a small-field novice, he did it nicely, and Ryan (Moore) liked him that day.

“He has been off for a long time as he had a little setback – we were going to run at the end of the year but we decided not to.

“He appears to have strengthened up as a three-year-old and hopefully he will improve again. I’m sure he will run a decent race and make a good account of himself.”

The field is completed by Devilwala (Ralph Beckett), Mystery Smiles (Andrew Balding), The Rosstafarian (Hugo Palmer), Akmaam (Brian Meehan) and Imperial Sands (Archie Watson).

Master back at HQ after Meydan outing

Master Of The Seas is one of 10 colts declared for the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.

Charlie Appleby’s charge won the Superlative Stakes on the July Course last summer, before going on to finish fourth when joint-favourite for the National Stakes at the Curragh.

The Dubawi colt made his first start of 2021 in Dubai in February – filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Naval Crown, who is set to contest the Free Handicap at Newmarket on Wednesday.

Appleby also saddles La Barrosa, who won the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes on the Rowley Mile last season.

Aidan O’Brien also fires a twin assault, with Khartoum and Sandhurst both making the trip from Ireland.

Devilwala, who finished fourth in the Dewhurst in October before running at the Breeders’ Cup, represents Ralph Beckett.

Akmaam (Brian Meehan), Imperial Sands (Archie Watson), Mystery Smiles (Andrew Balding), Royal Air Force (Simon and Ed Crisford) and The Rosstafarian (Hugo Palmer) complete the line-up.

The main supporting race on the third and final afternoon of the Craven Meeting is the bet365 Abernant Stakes.

The hot favourite is Roger Teal’s stable star Oxted, who claimed this prize last season before going on to Group One glory in the July Cup.

The five-year-old will be expected to be more at home back on turf after finishing seventh in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia on his latest appearance.

Oxted’s six rivals include Summerghand (David O’Meara) and Exalted Angel (Karl Burke), who were split by just a head when first and second on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield a fortnight ago.

Seas aiming to Master Meydan Classic rivals

Master Of The Seas limbers up for a potential tilt at the 2000 Guineas in the Meydan Classic in Dubai on Thursday.

The son of Dubawi looked a top-class colt in the making after winning on his first two career starts at Newmarket last summer, including a Group Two success in the Superlative Stakes in July.

Charlie Appleby’s charge, who was last seen finishing a close-up fourth in the National Stakes at the Curragh in September, is a best-priced 16-1 for the first British Classic of the year at Newmarket in May ahead of facing five rivals at Listed level at Meydan.

“Master Of The Seas is well clear on ratings and we know that he is the class horse in the race,” Appleby told

“Any sign of last year’s performances is going to make him very hard to beat, although this is very much a prep race ahead of his European campaign.

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“We were tip-toeing away with him and he was doing everything nicely at home, so I felt that I would rather give him a run at Meydan.

“We are looking at the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hopefully he can get a nice run under his belt before heading back to Europe.”

Master Of The Seas is joined by stablemate Naval Crown, who finished third in the UAE 2000 Guineas three weeks ago.

Appleby added: “Naval Crown has race fitness behind him, having produced a creditable performance in the UAE 2000 Guineas.

“Reverting back to the turf is going to be more to his liking and, if Master Of The Seas doesn’t run up to form, Naval Crown is a horse who could pick up the pieces.”

Mayehaab, Sharp Spun, Yurman and Nibras Passion are the other hopefuls.

Appleby also saddles strong contenders in the two Group Threes on the card.

In the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the Moulton Paddocks handler runs Ispolini, who needs to raise his game following a couple of below-par efforts so far this year.

“Ispolini has just been struggling to find his form lately – but he is a past winner of this race and any rekindling of that old form is going to put him bang there,” said Appleby.

Ispolini is one of four Godolphin representatives in the one-mile-six-furlong contest along with Saeed bin Suroor’s trio of Global Heat, Volcanic Sky and Brilliant Light.

Volcanic Sky, Global Heat and Ispolini finished second, third and fourth respectively behind the Bin Suroor-trained Dubai Future in the Meydan Cup earlier in the month.

Appleby’s Star Safari will be a hot favourite for the Dubai Millennium Stakes off the back of a course-and-distance win a fortnight ago, with Bin Suroor fielding Bedouin’s Story, Dream Castle and Royal Marine.

“Coming back in trip doesn’t concern us with Star Safari as he broke the track record for this distance at the Carnival last year,” said Appleby.

“He came out of his recent handicap win in good form and we are hoping that he can run a big race in this company.”

Master to skip Dewhurst

Charlie Appleby has ruled Master Of The Seas out of the Darley Dewhurst Stakes following his defeat in Ireland earlier this month.

Having followed up a debut victory on the Rowley Mile with an impressive display in the Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on the July Course, the Dubawi colt was well fancied to provide his trainer with a third straight win in the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh.

However, he ultimately came up a little short in his bid to follow in the hoofprints of Quorto and Pinatubo, finishing a close-up fourth behind Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon – who now heads ante-post lists for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Master Of The Seas emerged with plenty of credit, but is currently on a break before a potential French assignment later in the autumn.

Appleby said: “He won’t be going to the Dewhurst. He didn’t come out of the National Stakes as well, and he had a hard race there.

“We felt we would give him a small break. I think we will go later in the autumn, and he has options in France.”

Foley keen on Lucky Vega chance in National Stakes

Shane Foley expects the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes to be one of the races of the weekend as he prepares to ride Lucky Vega against Battleground and Master Of The Seas at the Curragh.

Lucky Vega arrives on the back of arguably the most impressive performance by a juvenile this season in the Phoenix Stakes, when Jessica Harrington’s youngster quickened away to win by three and a half lengths.

Sunday’s assignment represents a different task – with Aidan O’Brien’s Chesham winner Battleground and the Charlie Appleby-trained Superlative Stakes scorer Master Of The Seas in opposition – but Foley is feeling confident.

“From day one he’s always been a nice horse,” said Foley, speaking on an Irish Champions Weekend preview.

“He had a little hold-up after his maiden win, which meant it was a bit of a rush getting to the Railway Stakes. He got beat in that, but improved no end for it and showed what he was capable of in the Phoenix.

“He’s laid-back, so should have no problem going up to seven furlongs. Looking at it, it looks one of the races of the weekend – with Battleground and Master Of The Seas.”

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Battleground followed up his Ascot win in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, and now gets to race closer to home.

“He’s a big, powerful horse and has done very well physically since Goodwood – and we’re looking forward to running him,” said O’Brien.

“He’s handled good ground and slowish ground.”

Appleby has won the last two editions of the National Stakes with the ill-fated Quorto and last year’s champion juvenile Pinatubo – so is bidding for a hat-trick.

Master Of The Seas looks another top-class colt in the making for Charlie Appleby
Master Of The Seas looks another top-class colt in the making for Charlie Appleby (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He worked nicely during the week, and we’re very pleased with him,” said the Godolphin trainer.

“It’s going to be a good race. I saw Battleground at Ascot and I was at Goodwood when he won. I respect Jessica Harrington’s horse as well – he won the Phoenix well.

“Thankfully it’s a race we’ve had a bit of luck in in recent years, and it would be nice to continue it.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon bolted up on his debut, but lacks in experience compared to the others.

“Obviously it’s a big step up in class from a maiden straight into a Group One, but we didn’t have many other options,” said the Owning Hill trainer.

“He’s in at the deep end, but couldn’t have won his debut any easier.”

Ken Condon with Law Of Indices

Ken Condon, with Laws Of Indices (INPHO/PA)Ken Condon’s Laws Of Indices had Lucky Vega behind him when winning the Railway but was then only fourth in the Phoenix.

“He’s not ground dependent, and he’s a very straightforward horse,” said Condon.

“Physically, he’s doing very well.

“I’m very happy with where he’s at – he looks a picture, and I think he’ll give a good showing.”

Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney is another who has Group race-winning form to his name – over course and distance in the Futurity Stakes.