The first day of three kicks off the Newmarket July Meeting and our good friends at ITV have the first four races to show us. Three Group races and a devilishly tricky three-year-old sprint handicap is today’s fayre with the ground officially good to firm. However, the clerk of the course has been throwing (wrongly, in my opinion) plenty of water on the track over the last week so there will be no surprise if the ground rides a bit slower than that. Here are my thoughts on the best free horse racing tips to beat the bookies.
Only six have declared for this 1M 5F Group 3 Bahrain Trophy Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings and very much a stepping stone to the final classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster in September.
It’s hard to make a case for the two outsiders in Think First (well held by Saint George) and Land Legend (has 20lb officially to find with the top-rated Tower Of London) but the other four are covered only by 5lb on official ratings and all have claims.
Charlie Appleby is in much better form now than at Royal Ascot and saddles Castle Way who looked good when winning on his re-appearance at the Rowley Mile course back in May in listed company over 10F. He’s stepping up 3F today and has the stamina to prove whilst William Haggas’s lightly raced Klondike bumped into the current Leger favourite Gregory in a listed company at Goodwood racecourse, going down by only 3L and should appreciate stepping up another quarter of a mile here. A first-time tongue tie is a bit worrying mind.
Andrew Balding’s Qatar Racing-owned Saint George stepped up from his Doncaster handicap victory to run the aforementioned Gregory to a length and a half in the group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last month and that is arguably the best piece of form on offer here and looks sure to go well.
The one I like though has to be the Irish challenger Tower Of London who is jointly rated the top here with Saint George. Trained by Aidan O’Brien he followed up a 1M 4F Leopardstown listed victory in June by winning the Ulster Derby 16 days later by 4 1/4L when ridden by promising 7lb claiming apprentice Killian Hennesy. He’s been well supported since for the St Leger and this looks the acid test as to whether he’s up to that grade. He’s my pick with Ryan Moore getting back on board.
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It’s the two-year-olds up next with nine juveniles going to post for the Group 2 Kingdom Of Bahrain July Stakes run over 6F for colts and geldings only.
There’s no doubt that Richard Fahey’s Malc is the form horse having finished runner-up in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last month when a 66/1 shot with the re-opposing Thunder Blue 2 3/4L behind in 5th. Both are stepping up in distance today and can be competitive.
There are, however, five last-time-out winners who are all stepping up in grade and need close scrutiny. Clive Cox’s Jasour was an odds-on winner at Nottingham, form which has worked out ok with the third winning since. William Haggas’s Lake Forest won on his debut at Haydock but there are mixed messages from that race with the runner-up beaten since but the third winning since.
Aidan O’Brien brings over his Curragh maiden winner Mountain Bear who is very hard to assess without being privy to any market support and we also have Haydock debut winner Purosangue trained by Andrew Balding. He came home 4L to the good that day but I’m not sure it was much of a race with the second and third both being well beaten since.
That brings us to my fancy in the 18/1 Windsor winner Chief Mankato trained by Charlie Hills who has enlisted the services of William Buick today. He came home 3/4L to the good from Inquisitively (3rd since in the Windsor Castle Stakes) with subsequent wins for the 3rd and 4th. A 48,000 guineas yearling he was thought highly enough to be sent to the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot only to be withdrawn when getting fractious in the stalls. That is a concern but he looks to be the value bet here each way with Buick in the plate.
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Easily the most competitive of the four races shown on terrestrial TV today is this seventeen-runner class 2 6f Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds only.
The key piece of form for this race came at York 26 days ago in the Oakmere Homes Supporting MacMillan Sprint Handicap in which Stuart William’s Quinault beat Kevin Ryan’s Washington Heights by a head with Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mill Stream 1 1/4L back in third, Clive Cox’s Eminency a further 1 1/2L back in 4th with Redemption Time back in 6th and Rousing Encore (gelded since) behind and held. At the revised weights a case can be made for all of the top four with preference just for Washington Heights who is now a pound better off for a head and has the assistance of Ryan Moore for the first time which must be a big bonus.
Others who come into the reckoning are top-weight Desert Cop, one of two contenders here for trainer Andrew Balding alongside Frankess, who takes a drop in class having finished 6th in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup last time and actually chased home current July Cup favourite Shaquille previously at Newbury. Despite a big weight he can run well.
Tajalla is an interesting runner, trained by Roger Varian who’s making his handicap debut today stepping up to 6F for the first time. Bottom weight Be Frank is chasing a hat trick of wins, he’s 5lb higher than his Windsor win 24 days ago (3rd won since) and is another with claims.
A very tight 6F handicap where I’ll chance Washington Heights to turn the tables on Quinault and Desert Cop who has the assistance of 3lb claiming Harry Davies on board.
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DESERT COP 1 point each way @ 12/1 with Bet365 (Paying top 5 places at 1/5 odds)
A very disappointing turnout of just four (what is it with these middle distance Group races, what with only four in the Eclipse?) for this Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes.
Two of the four runners are trained by Charlie Appleby with James Doyle on board Global Storm who is the only one of the quartet to shoulder a penalty, 3lb for a Grade 2 win at Meydan in March. He’s a decent enough sort but is rated officially a stone behind his stable companion Adayar who will take plenty of beating today.
Officially rated 10lb, 14lb and 15lb superior to his three rivals he’s going to have to run below form to get beaten here. The Epsom Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner over 12F from 2021, he’s been kept to 10F in only four starts in the last two seasons but steps up in trip here which surely will suit. Not disgraced at Royal Ascot when third to the runaway winner Mostahdaf in the Prince Of Wales Stakes it’s hard to see him getting beaten here with William Buick doing the steering.
Best of the rest may well be the John & Thady Gosden runner Israr in the hands of Jim Crowley for his retained owners Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. Runner up at York in listed company last time this will be the highest grade of race he’s competed in.
Grand Alliance completes the quartet and even with Ryan Moore on top looks out of his depth.
Adayar should be winning this but is too short for a single bet.
All prices available at time of writing.