First day of the Newmarket Craven meeting today, with four races covered by ITV and the main event being the Nell Gwyn Stakes at 3.35.

This Group 3 race for fillies has a dead eight field as we write, with Cachet and Hello You fighting it out at the head of the market at 2-1 each.

These two have crossed swords twice last season and the score is one all, with not much to choose between them today either.

However, it may pay to oppose both with an each way bet on likely big improver Perfect News, trained by William Haggas.

This graduate from handicaps ended her 2-y-o season with a good third in the Oh So Sharp Stakes over this CD and rumour has it that this daughter of Frankel has improved leaps and bounds during the winter.

At 5-1, she looks the value punt.

Coverage starts with the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Handicap at 1.50 and the consistent and likeable Gale Force Maya is our selection for this one.

Never out of the frame in four runs over today’s course and distance, she ended last season with a short head defeat in a Listed contest, being nutted in the final stride. Back to handicap company this afternoon, she looks a big player at 11-2. Have an each way bash.

The European Free Handicap at 2.25 has just five runners, with Richard Hannon‘s Tacarib Bay just edging favouritism over Charlie Appleby‘s New Science.

We think the market has this about right and recommend a win bet on TB at 2-1.

And finally, the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at 3.00.

Master of the Seas looked a potential world beater at two and not far off one in last year’s Guineas, when he was beaten a short head by Poetic Flare. However, he disappointed badly in both subsequent runs and, inevitably, he is not a ‘he’ any longer.

Probably helps the concentration (we thankfully wouldn’t know) but a risky proposition at 11-10.

We’ll take a chance on the 6-y-o Bell Rock at a much more palatable price and with Andrew Balding‘s stable in sparkling form – go each way at 13-2.

Back tomorrow for Chetenham as well as HQ.


Perfect News 3.35 Newmarket 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1

Gale Force Maya 1.50 Newmarket 1pt e/w @ 11-2 (5 places Hills/Skybet)

Tacarib Bay 2.25 Newmarket 4pts win @ 2-1

Bell Rock 3.00 Newmarket 1pt e/w @ 13-2 (2 places)

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