Our racing expert has run the rule over the five Newmarket races being shown live on ITV4.
1:50 6f (Row) Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+)
A tricky puzzle to start proceedings with very little recent form to go on. Course winner GUNMETAL has at least had a run this term and while he finished well down the field at Doncaster on his reappearance, he probably had no chance drawn against the stands’ side, with all the action taking place down the middle and far side. Andrea Atzeni now takes over from a claimer and with his stable in cracking form (5-15, 33% in the last fortnight), he’ll for for me at bet365’s 15/2.
2:25 7f (Row) bet365 European Free Handicap (Listed Race) (Class 1) (3yo)
It’s hard to be confident about the outcome as all eight runners are returning to action and we’re guessing over their fitness and how much they’ve improved over the winter. That said, Aidan O’Brien’s WHITECLIFFSOFDOVER struck me as a horse who would do better as a three-year-old and plenty of stablemates have come out and won/run well on their reappearances. His form alone entitles him to plenty of respect, with the pick being his close second in a Group 3 at this track in September, and Ryan Moore is booked – he has a 27% strike rate in the stable runners, with all his rides yielding a healthy £15.03 profit to £1 level-stakes. Take bet365’s 9/2.
3:00 1m1f (Row) bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)
With likely favourite Folkswood possibly flattered by his last-time-out second in a Group 1 at Meydan, where he had the run of the race out on the lead, I’m going to take a chance on the fitness of Cambridgeshire winner SPARK PLUG, with 7/1 on offer at Betfair. The fact he has gone well fresh in the past, winning twice on his reappearance at and finishing second (of 22) on last season’s return, is very encouraging in that respect and so is the good form of his stable. While he has done all his winning in handicaps, the form of his course and distance success last September, was boosted when the two-length runner-up went on to fill the same spot in a Group 3. Indeed, he has nothing to find in the ratings with these, being the joint top-rated runner on 112.
3.35 7f (Row) Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo)
Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly sets the form standard on her close second in the Cheveley Park here in September and her turn of foot is going to prove a potent weapon now that she steps up in trip. However, she might again have to settle for minor honours as French raider PAMPLEMOUSSE could be out of the top drawer. Granted that is based on limited evidence, but she couldn’t have been more impressive when scoring on her belated racecourse debut at Chantilly just 15 days ago, with her jockey barely moving a muscle as she quickened clear to score by a very easy four and a half lengths. Connections have been pleased with her since and while this is a fact-finding mission in terms of her future career, her legendary trainer does not travel over unless he thinks he can win – a five-year record of six winners from 15 runners (40%) for a £1 level-stakes profit of £11.83 is evidence of that. She’s favourite at 7/2 with bet365, but deservedly so.
4:10 5f (Row) bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Class 4) (2yo)
With nine newcomers in the field, the market should prove to be the best guide and in particular over which of Charlie Hills’ runners, Cherubic and Queen Of Kalahari, is the stable number one hope. But neither may win as FORMIDABLE KITT looks a likely sort on paper being by Invincible Spirit out of a Queen Mary winner, and as the oldest runner in the field she might be more forward than some. Her trainer Tom Dascombe won last year’s renewal with 33/1 shot shot Fiery Character and while she’s nowhere near that price sadly – 9/4 best with Betfair – she may well make it back-to-back victories.
Newmarket 1.50, Gunmetal @ 15/2 bet365
Newmarket 2.25, Whitecliffsofdover @ 9/2 bet365
Newmarket 3.00, Spark Plug @ 7/1 Betfair
Newmarket 3.35, Pamplemousse @ 4/1 bet365
Newmarket 4.10, Formidable Kitt @ 9/4 Betfair