Our racing expert marks your card for Thursday's Newmarket action.
Newmarket’s three-day Cambridgeshire Meeting starts this afternoon and this quartet of selections might just get you off to a profitable start.
14:00 John Banks Renault Cambridge EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes (Plus 10), 1m
Aidan O’Brien is trying a visor on Taj Mahal after first-time cheek-pieces failed to do the trick at the Curragh last time, when the son of Galileo let down favourite backers for the fourth time in four starts. The change of headgear might work but odds of 3/1 don’t really excite given his regressive record and I’d much rather be with the Owen Burrows-trained OKOOL, who can be backed at 7/2 with Betfred. A 320,000euros purchase and 2017 Derby entrant, he was in need of the run and ran green when a pleasing fifth on his debut in a slowly-run Doncaster maiden and will be a different proposition here with that experience under his belt.
14:35 TurfTrax Nursery, 1m
This is tricky and I wouldn’t care to rule out any of the nine runners. All bar two have winning form to recommend them, but I’m going to take a punt on one of the exceptions, the Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained FORTUNE OF WAR. He’s run three cracking races in defeat since making his debut over an inadequate 6f here back in June, including when beaten less than a length into fourth in a decent maiden at Ascot last time over 7f. On breeding he should relish the step up to a mile and an opening handicap mark of 78 looks fair, with promising apprentice Charlie Bennett taking 5lb off his back.
Furthermore, his stable has an eye-catching record on the Rowley Course with five winners from 27 runners (19%) for a £1 level-stakes profit of £38.50, so there’s more than enough there to warrant a small each-way wager at the 16/1 on offer at Ladbrokes, who go one quarter the odds.
15:40 Tattersalls Stakes (Registered As The Somerville Stakes) (Group 3), 7f
ESCOBAR may have beaten just three rivals when maintaining his unbeaten record at Newbury last time, but all would hold solid claims in this contest and Hugo Palmer’s charge should come on again as he ran green and looked far from the polished article. ESCOBAR may have beaten just three rivals when maintaining his unbeaten record at Newbury last time, but all would hold solid claims in this contest and Hugo Palmer’s charge should come on again as he ran green and looked far from the polished article. He’s a confident choice to pass this latest test before a a possible crack at the Group 1 Dewhurst.
If he flops there are plenty of contenders to take advantage, with Aidan O’Brien’s Whitecliffsofdover looking the main danger. He certainly looked the part when relinquishing his maiden certificate at Naas last month and he’s clearly well regarded judging by his Group 1 / Classic entries. Ryan Moore partners him for the first time but I still think he’ll have to play second fiddle to the Frankie Dettori-ridden favourite, who is a best-priced 5/4 with Coral.
16:15 Jockey Club Rose Bowl (Formerly The Fenwolf Stakes) (Listed), 2m
Brian Ellison’s Seamour deserves to get his head in front after twice finishing runner-up in big handicaps at Newcastle and York this season, getting caught close home on each occasion. If George Baker can time his run to perfection he’s a big player here, but that’s a big ‘if’ and I’m inclined to give another chance to Ralph Beckett’s SHE IS NO LADY (7/2 bet365) following her flop in the Ebor. Her trainer was inclined to blame the “lively ground” for that heavy defeat as she likes to get her toe in and he’ll be hoping the forecast showers materialise.
That said, the current ‘good’ should be okay and the step back up to 2m is another positive for this progressive filly who is better than her current rating and will be contesting group races before long – she’s a 33/1 shot with bet365 for the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day, which is worth considering each-way.