Steve Hughes previews the opening day of the Newmarket July meeting.
A decent start to the big meeting of the year on the July Course at Newmarket with pride of place going to 2018 Derby hero Masar. He may well win, but I think there are better betting opportunities to be had elsewhere. I have selections from three races. Indian Temple was a winner in the previous column on Sunday (SP 100/30).
Newmarket 3.00: Top Breeze & Alfie Solomons
Two fancies here, both of whom look to have the natural pace required to compete in a top level handicap.
Top Breeze has had his last two races over the minimum trip, finishing a close second latterly at Windsor. However he is already a winner this spring over 6f on the Rowley Mile course here. That too was on quick ground and whilst he is quick enough for 5f, he has the stamina required to last home at this longer trip. With the stalls against the far rail, he could well be advantageously drawn high.
Alfie Solomons is a slightly more speculative selection given he has not quite hit top form this season. However his fourth at York in May was a promising effort where he travelled well in behind a strong pace. He too has run his best races though over this 6f trip. He was narrowly beaten in a lucrative sales race at the York Ebor meeting and filled second place also at Glorious Goodwood. The handicapper has dropped him 6lbs since the start of the season and he is well treated given he might find his ideal circumstances today.
Newmarket 4.40: Urban Icon
I have been following Urban Icon all season and somehow, despite showing great spirit and tenacity he is yet to win a race on 2019. However this could finally be his day.
Having run a fine race on unsuitably soft ground in the Greenham prior to a decent effort from the wrong side of the track in the 2000 Guineas, Urban Ioon has since had a couple of goes back at 7f. On the former he was just outsped by Space Blues at Epsom having arguably given up first run.
He then stayed on for fourth in the Jersey at Royal Ascot. I got the impression he would be better served by a mile and clearly trainer Richard Hannon has taken the same opinion by opting for this race. This looks easier than his recent assignments and he can gain a richly deserved win.
Newmarket 5.10: Wings of Time
Plenty of progressive sorts here but the 3yo Wings of Time can improve past all of them.
Very backward on his only start last term, he still showed promise in seventh in a race that worked out very well and was won by Skardu. He was given a go on the All Weather over the winter and found that a much easier task in defeating a useful enough yardstick in Reggae Runner.
After another break he returned in a novice over course and distance finishing second. His prominent racing style that day should suit in a race not blessed with much early pace and an opening handicap mark of 90 looks exploitable.
0.75pts each-way – Top Breeze – 3.00 Newmarket – 14/1 general (Skybet & Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Alfie Solomons – 3.00 Newmarket – 22/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)
2pts win – Urban Icon – 4.40 Newmarket – 4/1 general
1pt win – Wings of Time – 5.10 Newmarket – 4/1 Paddy Power