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Newmarket Thursday tips – best bets for day one of the July Festival

It's day one of the Newmarket July meeting

What are the day's best bets on day one of the Newmarket July meeting?

The Newmarket July meeting is East of England’s answer to Royal Ascot, albeit on a smaller and more informal scale, and the three-day meeting gets under way this afternoon with a whopping eight-day card – here are my thoughts on the Channel 4-televised races.

2.10: Bahrain Trophy (Group 3), 1m5f
This has cut up quite badly and bookmakers have been quick to make John Gosden’s Mr Singh favourite, with a couple of firms going odds-on. He’s the form horse on his second to Balios in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and his trainer likes to target this race with his staying three-year-olds, winning three of the last four renewals.

He’s the most likely winner but, at the odds, I’d rather be on Sir Michael Stoute’s HORSESHOE BAY, who won his maiden by seven lengths on the Rowley Mile here in early May, having run well at the Craven meeting previously, and is the mount of Ryan Moore. The way he was staying on over 1m4f that day suggests he will no problem with today’s extra furlong and he represents a shade of value at 7/2 with Ladbrokes.

Of the rest, Doncaster winner Monotype is respected, though he seemed to appreciate some cut in the ground when winning on Town Moor and meets faster ground here.

UPDATE – Sky Bet are offering money back as a free bet (up to £25) if the favourite (Mr Singh) wins.

2.40: Arqana July Stakes (Group 2), 6f
The Hannon stable has dominated this race, winning the last three renewals and seven times in all, with Ivawood scoring for Richard Hannon Jr. 12 months ago. He’s double-handed this afternoon with Eltezam, the mount of Frankie Dettori, and the Richard Hughes-ridden Orvar in his bid to keep the enviable run going. Both arrive here on the back of good runs at Royal Ascot – Eltezam finished third in the Coventry Stakes, while Orvar claimed sixth in the Windsor Castle from an unfavourable high draw – and they should be competitive.

Bookmakers prefer Kevin Ryan’s Windsor Castle runner-up Areen and he’s a general 7/2 favourite, with Godolphin’s Steady Pace next in the market. However, the vote goes to the Charlie Hills-trained ELRONAQ. Second to Eltezam when making his debut at Haydock in May, a period in which his stable were struggling for winners, he showed the benefit of that experience when thrashing some good sorts over course and distance last month. His trainer reports him to have done well since, describing him as “very professional” in his Weekender column, and he rates value at 13/2 with Paddy Power.

Of the remainder, Ed Walker’s Experto Crede deserves a mention after his debut victory over track and trip, having been well backed beforehand, and with Ryan Moore booked. Mark Johnston’s horses seem to thrive with racing and his Sixth Sense, who stepped up on previous efforts when third in the Chesham Stakes, his fifth start of the season, is another who needs respecting in an open Group 2.

3.15: Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f
This doesn’t look the strongest Group 2 and it appears to offer John Gosden’s Mahsoob an excellent opportunity to take his unbeaten run to five, after making it 2-2 for this season in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot last time. He had more in hand than the half-length winning margin suggests and is clearly progressing at a rate of knots.

However, he’s stepping up in trip as well as class here and, at the current odds of just 2/1, he is worth taking on in a race that has not been kind to favourite backers, with just one market leader – Universal in 2013 – obliging in the last 11 runnings. Furthermore, horses stepping up into Group company for the first time, like Mahsoob, have a poor record with Arab Spring the latest failure when a disappointing even-money favourite 12 months ago.

That horse is trained by Sir Michael Stoute and it was a rare reverse for the Newmarket handler as he’s won this race nine times since 1996, which marks out his pair of Gospel Choir and HILLSTAR as potential dangers to the favourite. Ryan Moore prefers the former and that’s understandable as he was on board when the gelding won a Listed contest over course and distance on his reappearance.

However, that’s reflected in his odds of 7/2, whereas his stablemate may have slipped under the radar at 13/2 (Paddy Power). Why? The five-year-old went close to winning this race last year, one of several high-class efforts during his career, and ended the season with a Grade 1 victory at Woodbine. He invariably needs a run or two before hitting peak form, so his comeback fifth in the Hardwicke Stakes represented a decent effort and he’ll be cherry ripe this afternoon.

3.45: Unibet Handicap, 1m2f
Stoute looks to have a strong hand here too with Muntadab, who is chasing a hat-trick, and Dissolution representing him. The latter was a disappointing favourite for the King George V Stakes at Royal, but he didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs and may have found 1m4f stretching his stamina in any case. Prior to that he’d chased home Time Test, who went on to win the Tercentenary at Royal Ascot in brilliant fashion, and is reunited with Ryan Moore this afternoon.

He’s hard to ignore and the 5/1 on offer seems fair, but I just prefer the claims of AWESOME POWER, a 9/2 shot with Ladbrokes. William Haggas’ colt won convincingly on his Sandown reappearance last month, overcoming a poor draw and beating some highly regarded sorts in the process, and is open to any amount of improvement after just three starts. He’s making his handicap debut here and it’s a tough introduction, but his opening mark of 86 looks workable and his stable continues in red-hot form. Harry Bentley keeps the ride and he has a healthy 24% strike rate (4-17) for the yard.

Another who should go well at a price is Paul Cole’s Rotherwick. He was an excellent fifth (of 28) in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, when finding the mile trip on the sharp side, and his trainer won this with Circumvent in 2010. He’s tempting each-way at 10/1 with bet365.

Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above Channel 4-televised races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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