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Newmarket Preview: Queen can rule in Nell Gwyn

The Nell Gwyn Stakes (4.05) is the feature race on the opening day of the Craven meeting at Newmarket, and Queen Catrine looks to have major claims of landing the spoils for trainer Charlie Hills.

The filly showed progressive form as a juvenile, opening her account in facile fashion by five lengths on quick ground at Ayr before going on to be placed four times in pattern company.

The daughter of Acclamation twice chased home leading 1000 Guineas hope Lucky Kristale in Group 2 contests, and put up arguably her best peformance on her final start when third of 12 to Indonesienne in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.

She had two of today’s rivals, Sandiva and Majeyda, behind her that day and there is no reason why she should not confirm the form providing she has trained on.

Although the soft ground was offered up as an excuse for Sandiva that day, Queen Catrine’s was also not ideally suited by it and the manner of her success at Ayr suggests that quick ground is ideal.

With Jamie Spencer in the saddle, Queen Catrine looks to have plenty in her favour and is currently a 33/1 chance with Coral for the 1000 Guineas on May 4th.

Only six runners line-up for the European Free Handicap (3.30), but it features some exciting prospects including the unbeaten Shifting Power and Mushir.

The former is trained by Richard Hannon and made a winning debut as a juvenile when making all to score by 3 1/4 lengths at Sandown.

The son of Compton Place then really impressed when overcoming greenness to come from off the pace and slam Treaty Of Paris by seven lengths at this venue and looks open to bags more improvement as a three-year-old.

He falls into the “could be anything category”, has reportedly been working very well at home and looks the one they all have to beat.

The other big race on the card is the Tattersalls Millions Sprint (2.55) and Toofi holds solid claims of making a winning reappearance.

Roger Varian’s colt shaped with plenty of promise when placed on his first two starts as a juvenile, before scoring in good-style over course and distance in a valuable sales race where he had several of today’s rivals behind.

The son of Henrythenavigator was then far from disgraced when finishing sixth of 17 in a stronger contest over 7f at this venue, and will appreciate the drop back to 6f this afternoon.

Off an official rating of 98, Toofi is also the highest rated runner in the line-up and with Andrea Atzeni in the saddle can prove too strong for the favoruite Wedding Ring.

Selections:
1.45: Provident Spirit
2.20: Portamento
2.55: Toofi
3.30: Shifting Power (NB)
4.05: Queen Catrine (NAP)
4.40: True Story
5.10: Munjaz
5.40: Kaab