Day 2 of the Newmarket Craven meeting today and although the eponymous race is not until tomorrow, there are two Group 3 contests this afternoon, together with the Listed bet365 European Free Handicap.

Just for once, we have racing under proper conditions, with perfect ground and only light winds, so excuses should be kept to the minimum.

The Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at 3.35 is the most competitive of the feature races, with a field of 12 fillies lining up and the Roger Varian trained Altyn Orda is the favourite in all books at a best price 4-1.

This daughter of Killachy put up a remarkable performance on her third and final start as a 2-y-o, winning the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes over this course and distance. Remarkable because she dumped Andrea Atzeni on the way to the start, running loose for quite a while before producing a storming finish to get up by a neck in the race itself.

When the rather introverted Mr Varian describes a horse as ‘exciting’ we should probably take note and with home reports favourable, she is our selection. At this time of year, early in the day, it can pay to be a wimp, so we recommend an each way bet at 4s.

The bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at 3.00 has a ‘dead eight’ field, led by the Aiden O’Brien trained Deauville, trading at  7-4. As per usual, the Master of Ballydoyle’s horses are mostly in need of a run and, in the hope that is the case today, we recommend a bet on Robin Of Navan, trained by Harry Dunlop.

Already a Group 1 winner, with the benefit of a run already this season and boasting a previous beating of the favourite, another cautious each way investment at 4-1 is suggested.

The bet365 European Free Handicap at 2.25 has ten runners and it’s 5-1 the field – so no-one has a clue, really. We’ll take a chance on Richard Fahey’s Great Prospector at an attractive 11-1 as an each way punt. This consistent colt will have derived great benefit from a recent run at Newcastle, in which he stayed on quite takingly under a hands and heels ride and with a brand new visor to help should give us a run for the moolah.

Chelters provides the alternative action, with the start of a two day meeting and the welcome change in the weather has resulted in a massive turn out for every race, just to make it easier.

The Barchester Healthcare Silver Trophy Chase at 2.40 is the most valuable race of the day and the only one covered by terrestrial television, so we’d better give it a whirl.

There is no question that Kalondra is a well-handicapped horse, having beaten Festival winner Coo Star Sivola over course and distance in December and it will find this contest a lot easier than the Graded races in which it usually plies its trade. With the stable going well, this should be backed (each way) at 11-2.

We have two other suggestions for you on the card, starting with the Kingston Stud Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at 3.15, which has a mere 22 runners.

Ballymountain Boy at 22-1 is the beastie we should be interested in as a sporting pick, each way 5 places.

Finally, if Singlefarmpayment doesn’t win the Weatherlite Handicap Chase at 5.00, the trusty fedora will be lovingly prepared for the evening meal.

Lash on at 3-1, please.


Altyn Orda 3.35 Newmarket e/w @ 4-1 SkyBet (4 places)
Robin Of Navan 3.00 Newmarket e/w @ 4-1 10Bet
Great Prospector 2.25 Newmarket e/w @ 11-1 William Hill
Kalondra 2.40 Cheltenham e/w @ 11-2 Betbright
Ballymountain Boy 3.15 Cheltenham e/w @ 22-1 PaddyPower (5 places)
Singlefarmpayment 5.00 Cheltenham win @ 3-1 Ladbrokes

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