Racing: Emperor Jones has poise to outsmart Barathea

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TODAY'S front-line trial for the 2,000 Guineas, the Craven Stakes, may not provide the winner of the first colts' Classic, but it may well define which horse will start favourite, writes Hyperion.

Shadeed, Dancing Brave, Doyoun and Tirol all won the Craven on their way to Guineas' success over the same course and distance, while the victories of Ajdal, Marju and last year Alnasr Alwasheek ensured they started at short, and ultimately flattering, odds for the Classic.

Luca Cumani's unbeaten Barathea, the favourite for today's race, has just Zafonic above him in Guineas betting lists, so it would require only a victory of some conviction for him to take over the top position. Standing in his way are Wharf, who has been working well but concedes weight, and Emperor Jones (3.40), who also showed outstanding juvenile form and whose trainer, John Gosden, does not overface his charges. The colt is thus a significant runner here.

Wharf's connections may fare better with Placerville (next best 3.05), another who has been showing up well on the gallops.

Barry Hills's DIME BAG (nap 2.35) won her final two starts impressively on the all-weather surface last autumn, but the Lambourn trainer may be deprived of a double through Northern Bird who, although certain to be a popular choice for the sprint handicap, may have to give way to the scopey Pair Of Jacks (4.10).