We have arrived at the third and final day of this year’s Newmarket The Craven meeting. Fans can look back on what was a thrilling renewal, with some of the top horses in the business showcased, as well as a generous helping of nice priced winners for punters. We’re not done yet, though, and there’s still a chance to come out of the three-day meet with a profit in your pocket. Here are our Thursday 18 April Horse Racing betting tips.
Thursday’s card gets going at 1.50pm with a competitive Maiden Stakes and the card takes us through to a 5.20pm finish, when a punchy Handicap brings the curtain down for another year. The Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes is billed as the day’s main attraction and our team return to help you boost your betting balance with a winner.
There’s plenty to hold your interest on what’s sure to be another glorious day of British horse racing and if you can’t make it along to HQ, you will be delighted to learn you can follow the action live, thanks to ITV’s expert and in-depth racing coverage. Those not at home can keep their eye on bets through one of the many betting apps offered by bookmakers, with the likes of bet365 and Ladbrokes beaming the races live to your mobile or handset through a faultless, HD quality stream.
Having trawled through the runners and riders of note on Thursday at Newmarket, we have to admit nothing gets close to overshadowing the main event, so we concentrate fully on the Earl of Sefton Stakes, where there looks to be a bet worth having at generous odds.
Earl of Sefton Stakes – 4.10pm Newmarket
This Group 3 race will be decided over the 1m 1f trip and with almost £35,000 paid to the winner, it’s no surprise to see a strong field in attendance, with 11 expected to run. The going will be ideal for a race of this nature and there will be a real buzz in the air as onlookers feel the promise of summer in the air as we move away from what has been a gruelling National Hunt campaign. Get set for short, snappy flat races in the sun, where the speedsters will be rewarded.
This race was first run back in 1971 and has gone on to become a real fans’ favourite in the years that have passed since, with some memorable renewals of famous winners. Pembroke Castle was the first of them when scoring for Geoff Lewis and Noel Murless and some of the best early winners to join the list were Scottish Rifle, Gunner B, Kalaglow, Terimon, Indian Lodge, Notnowcato and Phoenix Tower.
Flicking through the stats of this race, we find two horses rank as most successful in the contest, with Terimon – winner in 1990 and again in 1992 – joined by Mull of Killough – scoring in 2013 and a year later. No horse has been able to complete the hat-trick, as of yet, and it’ll be a while before we see one good enough to claim a treble.
That hasn’t been a problem for jockeys, however, and we find no less than seven riders locked on three wins. Some of the names included in that list are Pat Eddery, Michael Kinane and Kieren Fallon. The latter rode Ali-Royal in 1997, Shiva 1999 and Olden Times to success in 2003.
Tight, but there’s no doubting who the daddy of the trainers is, with Henry Cecil banking an incredible seven wins to date. He got off the mark when helping Gunner B to glory back in 1978 and was last seen in the winner’s enclosure in 2008 when Phoenix Tower did the business for connections. That mark will take some beating.
In more modern times we know Forest Ranger came out on top 12 months ago for the winning partnership of Tony Hamilton and Richard Fahey, nicking the crown worn by Steel Of Madrid the year before. The recent trends tell us younger horses are worth sticking with, each of the last two champions aged four years old at the time of winning.
Is that a pattern worth keeping in mind when making your bets this year? We’d say so as, looking back further, no less than five of the last nine winners have been four.
Trainer John Gosden has also enjoyed recent success, sending out two of the last seven winners, Questioning in 2012 and Mahsoob in 2016. William Buick sat on two of the last seven victors and that may help punters find the horse worth backing. The pilot steered Questioning to glory, before helping French Navy grab a place in the history books in 2015.
Moving to the here and now, we find bookmakers have set up in support of Elarqam who has been chalked up as an 11/4 favourite with Ladbrokes, ahead of First Contact and Forest Ranger, who can both be backed at 5/1 when publishing.
The money men seem to have this one spot on, as the jolly is a four-year-old with bags of promise and handlers are confident he can win here before going on to compete in bigger and better races in the coming season. He’s a colt of the famous Frankel and that alone will ensure a fair share of interest comes for him heading to the off. He has won only two of six starts, however, and hasn’t popped his head in front since September of last year when winning each of his first two.
Elarqam deserves his place at the head of the betting on breeding, but form and price do nothing to inspire us, so we’ll take a pop at one carrying a more attractive price. Zabeel Prince is available at 7/1 at the time of writing and Roger Varian’s hope caught our eye. He won at Doncaster in the listed Doncaster Mile Stakes, beating runner-up Born to be Alive by 2 ½ lengths and found only one too good last time when held by Mustashry, finishing ½ a length behind in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes. A repeat of that effort would see him go close.