The ground was described as good to firm at noon on Wednesday for today’s Newmarket card. This is the first of a four-day meeting at HQ with the first British Group 1 race of the season the Coronation Cup on Friday and the first classics of the domestic season the 2000 and 1000 Guineas to follow over the weekend. There is the possibility of light rain during the meeting which will be music to the ears of clerk of the course Michael Prosser.
The first six races on today’s card are for unraced two-year-olds and they are, arguably, trials for the juvenile races at Royal Ascot which begins in less than a fortnight’s time. Many of the big Newmarket yards are represented and the betting should provide valuable clues although they make little appeal to me as a betting medium.
When Magic J (5.20) made a winning racecourse debut back in September 2018 he had Swindler, now rated 96, and Mubakkar, a fluent winner off 95 earlier in the week, behind and, with that in mind, he looks potentially well treated off a mark of 85 this afternoon.
The selection has only raced three times since that winning debut, and they were all on an artificial surface. Oisin Murphy is back in the saddle for the first time since Yarmouth and I will be disappointed if he does not run a big race today. The selection is 5/2 with William Hill and this colt may be a gelding by the time of his next outing if he doesn’t put his best foot forward this afternoon!
Arbalet is a fascinating contender in the hot 7f Handicap having his first start for David O’Meara having left Hugo Palmer since his last outing back in September. The grey is looking attractively weighted and at 9/2 with Unibet he looks sure to have his supporters as will Via Serendipity who has also dropped to an attractive mark.
My two against the field, however are Asdaa and Bear Force One (5.55) with preference for Roger Fell’s progressive four-year-old who won two of his last three starts last term while still giving the impression he would make up into a better four-year-old. Trainer Roger Teal can get them ready first time out and this is a big couple of days for the yard who saddle Oxted in the Abernant on Friday and Kenzai Warrior in the 2000 Guineas on Saturday. The selection is 10/3 with William Hill who are betting each way four places.
I am sure there are more races to be won with Starfighter this season, but I hope the same can be said of Inclyne (6.30) despite the fact that the filly has yet to win on turf and was reported to become unbalanced in the dip when running below par at last year’s Craven meeting.
The filly – 5/1 with 10bet – represents the stable of Andrew Balding, who have been among the winners earlier in the week, and she showed her ability to handle fast ground when an unlucky third at Nottingham last summer from a 3lbs lower mark.
The feature race at Newcastle is the Gp 3 Pavilion Stakes – transferred from Ascot – for three-year-olds over 6f and Ventura Rebel is 4lbs better off with A’Ali for the neck he was behind that rival in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 months ago. They look sure to go close if proving as effective on tapeta, but the vote goes to Molotru (3.55) who looked very smart when scoring at Lingfield last time over 7f and is now three from three on an all-weather surface.
The selection – 11/4 with William Hill – was considered a potential Guineas horse when scoring at Lingfield, but connections look to have had a change of heart and appear to be going down the sprinting route. This looks a most informative contest and the winner is likely to be a major player in the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal Meeting later in the month.
We might know our fate soon after the stalls open in the 2m handicap on the card as I want to see Zabeel Star (5.40) hit the lids much better than was the case over today’s C&D when a running on fifth back in March. The each way selection, who had previously won a Jumpers Bumper here in February, is 13/2 with William Hill who are betting four places on the race. If he gets out on terms, he must go close.
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