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    Richard Hannon's prospects
Richard Hannon's prospects
Richard Hannon's 2,000 Guineas. Source: Racing Post

Richard Hannon's prospects

Richard Hannon's chances in the upcoming Qipco 2,000 Guineas were significantly boosted when Haatem secured his third victory in the Group 3 bet365 Craven Stakes. Despite initial expectations of a closely contested race featuring strong contenders from Godolphin and France, Haatem proved to be the dominant force, winning by a convincing three-and-a-half lengths ahead of Eben Shaddad. As a result of this impressive performance, Haatem's odds were shortened to 20-1 (from 100) by Paddy Power for the first Colts' Classic on May 4. Additionally, following this decisive triumph under jockey Sean Levey, bookmakers swiftly adjusted the odds for Haatem's stablemate and training companion, Rosallion, to 9-2 (from 6).

Levey achieved a second notable victory during the three-day Craven meeting by winning the Listed Feilden Stakes with Jayarebe on Wednesday, April 17. The French horse Alcantor, heavily supported and favoured at 2-1, raced too eagerly behind Godolphin's Native Approach on the stands' side and ultimately finished sixth behind the 17-2 winner.

Hannon commented on the success, stating that Haatem is a talented horse. In the previous year, he won the Vintage Stakes with Iberian, who went on to win the Champagne Stakes. Haatem finished sixth in the Dewhurst, and now he has won the Craven impressively. Hannon noted that he performed well in the race because front-runners had been successful throughout the week.

Furthermore, Hannon mentioned that Rosallion, another horse in their stable, outperformed Haatem during training sessions at home and even during their recent visit to Kempton. However, Hannon emphasised that the true measure of their abilities lies in their performance on the track. Haatem is entered in the German Guineas, but the owner, Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Al Sabah, is determined to return for another race next month, which Hannon agrees with. He believes that Haatem has given an excellent performance and adds strength to their chances in the 2,000 Guineas. Haatem has been training alongside Rosallion at Kempton and other locations, and there may be further joint training sessions before the upcoming race.

Hannon, who previously had winners in the Craven race with Toormore (2014) and Kool Kompany (2015), has only won the 2,000 Guineas once with Night Of Thunder (2014), who finished second in the Greenham Stakes before that. Hannon stated that all his previous Guineas winners had lost in their trial races, so he's uncertain about the outcome this time.

Levey mentioned that the horse performed well last year and had a successful winter. Haatem has been training well at home, and participating in the Greenham Stakes served as a valuable preparation for the Guineas. Rosallion will go straight to the race, and there were concerns about the ground conditions for that horse. The decision about which horse Levey will ride in the Guineas will be made by the boss.

John Gosden, the joint-trainer of the second-place horse Eben Shaddad, commented that the horse ran well but will improve with more racing experience. The horse is also entered in the French Guineas, and a decision will be made based on how the horse recovers from this race.

In third place was Sons And Lovers, ridden by Luke Morris, who said that the horse performed admirably considering it was only its second race.

Haatem's victory in the bet365 Craven Stakes. Source: RTE
Haatem's victory in the bet365 Craven Stakes. Source: RTE

Form advantages for top contenders in the Guineas

Haatem's victory in the bet365 Craven Stakes might be viewed as an unfair basis for getting excited about other horses, but that was undoubtedly the outcome of his convincing win. Despite appearing vulnerable after nine races as a juvenile, he managed to distance himself from his competitors and secure a victory with a margin of three and a half lengths. However, it's worth noting that a favourable tailwind at Newmarket this week somewhat exaggerated the advantage for horses racing prominently, including Haatem.

Considering our existing knowledge about Haatem, it would be reasonable to evaluate his performance by comparing it to the horse that decisively defeated him and was considered superior to him.

In the Dewhurst Stakes, Haatem, who was a two-year-old at the time, was convincingly defeated by City Of Troy, just like what happened in the Superlative Stakes the previous summer. Therefore, Aidan O'Brien, the trainer who had Cambridge finish fourth in the Craven, would have been satisfied to witness the consistent performance of the horses.

Haatem's performance in the Dewhurst, where he reversed form with Eben Shadad, supports John Gosden's claim that his stable's horses would improve after their first run. Nevertheless, Haatem has displayed his talent as a skilled young colt who can hold his ground in competitive races over a mile and even longer distances.

Trainer Richard Hannon and those associated with him would undoubtedly be further delighted by Haatem's performance, particularly regarding the prospects of Rosallion in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. The connections have consistently expressed their high regard for last year's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner, and Hannon reiterated after the Craven that Rosallion possesses greater natural speed than Haatem, his stable companion.

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