The CH4 Racing presenter picks out his best bets on day one of Newmarket's July Festival.
This looks a really tricky running of the Bahrain Trophy (2.10) and I found it hard to rule any of the runners out with confidence, but I quite like the look of Platitude who gets some nice ground for the first time in a long while. He’s got a fast ground pedigree, he ran really well at Royal Ascot where he stayed on well from further back than ideal and he looks up to this level at this sort of trip. Connections have secured the services of Frankie Dettori, who won this race 12 months ago on Mr Singh, and everything looks in place for a big run from Sir Michael Stoute’s gelding.
If I thought one was going to run well at a huge price it might be Goldmember who won quite impressively at Thirsk and that was the first time he had encountered fast ground. He was a very expensive purchase and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run well at big odds.
The July Stakes (2.40) looks a cracking renewal. Of the market principals I prefer Ardad who was impressive at Royal Ascot despite the fact that his performance was slightly overshadowed by other two-year-old’s that week. He posted a good time and it came only six days after his debut victory at Yarmouth, so he’s got sound credentials. I’m going to given him the nod but not with much confidence given there any number in here who could take a big step forward. The horse I’m most frightened of is Broken Stones who had to miss Ascot, where he was quite strongly fancied, but he impressed me when winning at York on debut and might have been forgotten about in the market.
In the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (3.15) I’m going to take a significant leap of faith and advise a small bet on Battersea, the outsider of the field. His form figures tell you that he’s not the most consistent but he’s got the perfect set-up today – a mile and a half on fast ground, which is exactly what he wants in my view. He will need some pace to run at so I’m hoping the real stayers in the race like Big Orange will go out and make this a real test because that will compromise the chances of The Grey Gatsby, who is clearly the class in the race but hasn’t run at this trip for two years. As for Exosphere, impressive he might have been on his seasonal debut, the form hasn’t really worked out and his performance at Royal Ascot was dire, even allowing for soft ground. The selection was an excellent second to subsequent Yorkshire Cup winner Curbyourenthusiasm in the Mallard and he had horses like Agent Murphy and Astronereus behind when winning a warm three-year-old handicap at Ascot last year. A repeat of that sort of form should see him in the mix here.
The sprint at 3.45 looks typically competitive but Show Stealer could have plenty more to offer on a sound surface and Rae Guest’s filly could be Pattern-class in time. She’s already won a valuable Class 2 handicap on the Rowley Mile, she’s been kept away from the soft ground and she is trained by a man who is brilliant at maintaining the progression of fillies. Although she’s gone up 7lb, the handicapper probably could have put her up more given she overcame a bias towards front runners when coming from off the pace last time and she could be hard to beat here.