Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action at Newmarket.
The Channel 4 cameras are back in action at Newmarket this afternoon when the juveniles take centre stage in the Group 2 Rockel Stakes.
13:55 Muhaarar Rosemary Stakes (Fillies’ Listed), 1m
Last year’s Rockfel Stakes winner Promising Run heads the market for what is a wide open fillies’ contest and that’s understandable as she’s the top-rated runner and was back in the winners’ enclosure last time in Turkey last time, when taking advantage of a drop in class. With her stable now firing on all cylinders after a long quiet spell due to a virus, she’s not opposed lightly and is preferred to main market rival Ashadihan, who has a long absence to overcome and still has to conclusively prove she stays 1m.
But there is plenty of each-way value to be had further down the betting list and I stopped at Ralph Beckett’s DESERT HAZE. She stays this trip well, winning thrice over it this season, and can be forgiven a below-par effort at Chantilly when last seen as the slow pace was against her. Best when coming late off a strong gallop, she ought to have the race run to suit and there are no worries over the forecast fast ground either. She does have a little to find on the ratings, admittedly, but she’s still improving and Beckett rates her his best chance of a winner at this meeting. At 14/1 with bet365 who are alone in offering one quarter the odds as opposed to the standard fifth, she’ll do for me.
14:30 Princess Royal EBF Nayef Stakes (Formerly The Harvest Stakes) (Fillies’ Listed), 1m4f
Last year’s winner Journey looks the one they all have to beat and that is reflected in her price of 6/4. Whether she’s a bet is another matter as she may not be at her best today having been off the track for 118 days and is clearly using this race as a prep for her main target, next month’s Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot in which she finished runner-up last year. Her class may get her through but a 5lb penalty makes life tougher and she’s reluctantly swerved in favour of one of the three-year-old runners.
The Classic generation have an excellent record in this contest, winning nine of the last ten runnings, and the best of this year’s bunch may be Luca Cumani’s BEAUTIFUL MORNING. A 650,00gns purchase, she did well to win over 7f at York last August as she’s bred to be suited by middle distances and even 1m2f looked an insufficient test when finishing runner-up over that trip at Newbury on her reappearance in May. It’s a concern that she’s not been since but the stable can get one ready and I’ll be surprised if we haven’t seen the best of her. Hopefully that will be today and bet365’s 7/1 looks fair value.
15:05 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2), 7f
FAIR EVA had her bubble burst when finishing only third in the Group 2 Lowther last time having looked a bit special in winning her first two starts, including when thrashing her rivals in a Group 3 at Ascot in July. However, that York odds-on defeat can be upgraded as she got a little warm beforehand and the pair that finished in front of her, Queen Kindly and Roly Poly, are very smart and clash in Saturday’s Group 1 Cheveley Park. The trio finished well clear of the remainder and the winning time was faster than standard.
She’s had a nice break since and should benefit too from today’s extra furlong as, like her sire, she looks a 1m/1m2f performer in the making and might get to show that in next month’s Group 1 Fillies’ Mile. This race looks hers for the taking en route, albeit we’re being asked to take odds-on, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Exmouth selected as forecast material.
15:40 Shadwell Joel Stakes (Group 2), 1m
A tricky contest with just 5lb separating the six runners according to official ratings and fitness concerns over Betfair’s 5/2 favourite, the John Gosden-trained NATHRA, who has been off the track since finishing down the field in Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes. However, her spring form is the best on offer as she won the Nell Gwyn here in April before finishing fifth in the 1000 Guineas won by Minding and, better still, went on to finish just a length second behind the top class La Cressonniere in the French equivalent. If running anywhere near that sort of level here in receipt of the fillies’ allowance, she’ll be tough to beat.
Custom Cut, her nearest rival in the betting, is a past winner of this race and only found Time Test a length too good in last year’s renewal. Coming off arguably his best run this season, when only finding Classic winner Awtaad too good at the Curragh, he looks nailed on to be involved again and is feared most ahead of the quirky Forge, who might be better over 7f.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above four Channel 4-televised races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.