The Flat season is really cooking on gas now and this weekend sees the first Classics of the season. Before the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, it’s the three-year-old colts who take to the stage on Saturday for the 2,000 Guineas. That is the big race of the day at Newmarket but other quality contests on the card will be broadcast by ITV Racing as will one race from each of Thirsk and Goodwood.
With a nice mixture of contests and some tempting value bets around, this should be an excellent day of racing. To add to the excitement and help you find some winners, we have gone through each of the live ITV races to make our selections in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips. The Classic season is here and we can’t wait!
1:50 My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap
Class 2, 6f
A wide open, 20-runner handicap sprint is the sort of race that Flat racing fans have really been missing over the winter months. The My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap is sure to whet the appetite for the rest of the day’s racing and is a cracking start to the ITV Racing coverage from Newmarket on Saturday.
Out of several potential winners perhaps the most compelling case can be made for Bickerstaffe at the very nice price of 12/1. Roger Teal’s four-year-old progressed nicely last season and he should be a serious player in sprint handicaps in the months to come if he maintains that momentum. His chances were boosted by his draw as blindly backing horses in stall 16 each way in this sort of race at Newmarket has produced a nice solid return over the last couple of years. Moreover, Bickerstaffe should get the sort of strong early pace that he craves which suggests that he is a very good each way option.
2:05 Fitzdares Thirsk Hunt Cup
Class 2, 1m
The Fitzdares Thirsk Hunt Cup is the biggest race of the season at the North Yorkshire venue. This is always a well-attended meeting and the crowds will turn up in good numbers once again for the 2022 edition, with decent weather helping things along nicely. Popular as the race is, it hasn’t been a particularly good one for punters in recent times, with the last five winners going in at 18/1, 14/1, 6/1, 8/1 and 16/1 respectively. Will that trend continue and will we see the horses towards the top of the market struggle once again?
Sir Michael Stoute certainly hopes that Astro King will prove good enough to get a winning favourite back on the board in the Thirsk Hunt Cup. He is a worthy favourite based on his best form and placed third in this race last year but Astro King is not reliable enough to warrant odds of 5/1. Empirestateofmind is a different proposition – reliable but yet to show the same level of form as Astro King. He’s a progressive four-year-old though, with his best still to come and if he can position himself among the early leaders Empirestateofmind can hold on to earn a place or perhaps better at double-digit odds of 10/1.
2:25 Betfair Daily Rewards Suffolk Handicap
Class 2, 1m1f
Newmarket may be the headquarters of British Flat racing but it is not a course that every horse takes to. Dealing with the intricacies of the course – most notably the infamous Newmarket Dip that comes in the closing stages – is by no means a given so horses with previous good form at the course are always worth considering.
A record of three wins from five starts at Newmarket is just one of the reasons that Turntable appears well priced at 8/1 for the Betfair Daily Rewards Suffolk Handicap. Chris Wall’s charge was largely campaigned over 1m last season but he was bred for further and won over 9f at Newmarket when last seen in September. Providing he has been well prepared for this first run of the new season, Turntable can take advantage of a fairly generous mark of 84 and earn at least a place back at Newmarket.
2:40 William Hill Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes
Jim Crowley’s presence at Goodwood is very interesting. He has three rides in West Sussex with his best chance coming in the William Hill Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes. Zanbaq has only been seen once on the track but she could hardly have been more impressive when winning on debut at Kempton. Zanbaq overcame a tricky draw and won under hands and heels ride suggesting that there is much more still to come.
Making the required improvement to beat Primo Bacio at Goodwood will not be easy but she was a £450,000 purchase for Shadwell Estate as a yearling so hopes are understandably high about how good this filly can be. Entering Zanbaq in a Listed race for her second run is a sign of confidence and she can kick on to make it two wins from two at odds of 11/4.
3:00 Betfair Palace House Stakes
Group 3, 5f
Before the best three-year-olds around do battle in the 2,000 Guineas the fans at Newmarket will get treated to some thrilling action from some older horses, courtesy of the Betfair Palace House Stakes. The sprinting division is still in need of a stand out star, in the meantime many of the best sprints will be as open as this appears to be on paper.
Punters will always look for a big price in an open race like this but it is important to keep the draw in mind. With a high draw a disadvantage over 5f at Newmarket, the chances of Twilight Calls (3/1) and Whenthedealisdone (25/1) are slimmer, even though both were tempting options before the draw was made. In contrast, Arecibo has been well treated by the draw. Stall 4 should allow him to get into a good position just off the leaders as is his favoured running style and the mount of Jamie Spencer has the finishing kick to be right in the mix from there so back him each way at 10/1.
3:35 Qipco 2,000 Guineas Stakes
Group 1, 1m
Godolphin remain one of the very biggest players in Flat racing but there is always room for improvement and they are particularly keen to improve upon their record in the 2,000 Guineas. The hard work with regards buying, breeding and training racehorses has an excellent chance of being rewarded in this year’s first colts’ Classic with Native Trail (5/4) and Coroebus (5/1) the top two in the betting.
Of the two it’s the favourite who has most support and for very good reason. Native Trail was the highest rated two-year-old of last season and any doubts about how well he would train on were eased with a taking performance in the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket earlier in the month. Charlie Appleby has always been a huge fan of Native Trail but he gave him that outing just to make sure that he would be switched on and ready to fire for the Guineas. He may not quite have the burst of acceleration of Luxembourg or Dubawi Legend but once Native Trail gets up to speed he powers away from the opposition which is exactly what we expect to happen in the 2,000 Guineas.