What are the best bets at Newmarket on Thursday?
The Newmarket July Festival gets under way this afternoon and it’s the four Channel 4-televised races that come under scrutiny of our racing expert here.
14:10 Bahrain Trophy (Group 3), 1m5f
Godolphin launch a dual assault on this Group 3 prize and PRIZE MONEY is easily the form pick over stablemate Race Day courtesy of his second behind fellow Godolphin inmate Hawkbill in the 1m2f Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot That form looks even better in light of that horse’s Eclipse success and while he has his stamina for this longer trip to prove, he shapes as though it won’t be a problem. Indeed, he may even improve for it and punters are advised to snap up the 9/4 on offer at Sky Bet as they are refunding losing stakes as a free bet (up to £25) should your selection finish second in the race.
Aidan O’Brien’s Housesofparliament holds entries in the Goodwood Cup and Irish St Leger, suggesting that his trainer views him as a stayer in the making, and he is feared most.
14:40 Arqana July Stakes (Group 2), 6f
Richard Hannon’s Mehmas is the form pick on his Coventry Stakes second to Caravagio and hails from a stable that has won four of the last six runnings. However, that Ascot race has not provided the winner since 2001 and recent results suggest we should be taking on the form horses, with those stepping up from maiden wins holding sway. Last year’s 14/1 winner Shalaa fitted that bill and Ivawood became the third in six years to score on them back of a solitary maiden win when taking the 2014 renewal.
Kevin Ryan’s BROKEN STONES is bidding to do exactly that here and there was a lot to like about his debut success over this trip at York, which is a course his trainer traditionally introduces his best juveniles. A 220,000 buy, he was heavily backed to oblige on the back of some impressive home work and apart from him jumping the path after one furlong, his backers had few anxious moments. He will need 7f before long but is not short of pace and is a very backable 12/1 with bet365, who are offering each-way terms of one quarter the odds instead of the standard fifth.
Unbeaten dual scorer Ardad is respected most of the rest. He was most impressive when landing Royal Ascot’s Windsor Castle Stakes over 5f in a good time and represents last year’s winning stable, though speed is clearly his forte and the selection might prove stronger at the finish.
15:15 Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f
Sir Michael Stoute’s EXOSPHERE was a huge disappointment in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing eighth of the nine runners after being sent off 6/4 favourite. Connections were quick to blame the ‘good to soft’ ground, even though he had coped with such a surface when landing the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on the Rowley Mile course here previously , and it could be the horse just had an off day. He has been working well again since according to gallop watchers and on today’s better ground he has to be given another chance in a Group 2 contest his stable has won four times since 2007 (nine overall). Take Hills’ 11/4.
The Grey Gatsby, his main rival according to the betting, has done all his winning over shorter (well beaten on his only try over 1m4f) and it could be that Godolphin’s Elite Army gives him most to do. He went close in Royal Ascot’s Duke Of Edinburgh last time and, like the selection, will prefer this ground.
15:45 Betfred Mobile Stakes (Heritage Handicap), 6f
One of those hugely competitive Heritage Handicaps the bookies love, with the majority going 5/1 the field. All are agreed on making Roger Varian’s Taneen favourite at around that price and it’s easy to see why as he broke his duck over course and distance last summer and was an eased down winner at Leicester last time. He has Pattern potential and is in the same mould as last year’s winner Magical Memory, who is now a Group 1 horse. He will need to be a group horse, though, as he’s been raised 12lb to a mark of 101, meaning he carries top weight, and might therefore struggle to confirm from with the Leicester third Bounce on much worse terms.
Henry Candy’s charge is tempting at Betfair’s 10/1, though the suspicion is that he is going to be more of a 7f horse and narrow preference is for the Rae Guest-trained SHOW STEALER. The winner of her first two juvenile starts, she progressed to finish third in a big-field nursery over track and trip last August and looked to have improved again when winning a nice prize over 6f on the Rowley Mile on her reappearance in May. She’s not been seen since but the placed horses have boosted the form in the meantime and the handicapper may have been lenient in raising her just 7lb. Her trainer excels with fillies and is likely to have had this race in mind as a target for a good while, so there’s lots to like about her chances and each-way backers at Sky Bet’s 8/1 have the insurance of a payout should she finish fifth.
Fancy some free bets? 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.
2.10 Prize Money @ 9/4 Sky Bet (money back as a free bet if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd)
2.40 Broken Stones each-way @ 12/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
3.15 Exosphere @ 11/4 Hills
3.45 Show Stealer each-way @ 8/1 Sky Bet (1/4 odds, 188.8.131.52.5)