One to follow for Newmarket

Newmarket & Punchestown selections Saturday 4th May

One of the great racing days of the calendar with the final day of the jumps season in Ireland closing off the Punchestown Festival. Allied with that we have the first classic of the season on the flat with the 2000 Guineas highlighting a quality card at Newmarket. If that wasn’t enough for international racing fans there is the Kentucky Derby tonight as well. I am concentrating on two races at Punchestown and two at Newmarket.

Newmarket 1.45: Apollo One

I am just going to rely on one bet for this competitive sprint handicap and assume that APOLLO ONE is ready to go first time out.

He was certainly fit enough to do himself justice when making his seasonal bow in this race last season. On the occasion he ran a cracker to be third having been slightly delayed in traffic whilst attempting to make his big effort over 1f out. He then ran a series of cracking races in all the big 6f handicaps of the summer, finishing second from a bad draw on Derby Day at Epsom, second in the Wokingham on fast ground at Ascot and then a brave second on terrible going in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood.

That last effort in particular probably took a lot out of him as he was not so good in his last two races at Beverley and York. However he has been dropped back down to the 100 mark he raced off at Goodwood and will have been nicely refreshed by the winter off. He often likes to race up with the pace which is a good trait to have here and good going will be fine for him.

Newmarket 2.20: Dutch Decoy & Majestic

Two horses fully proven over this course and distance are fancied over this unusual 9f trip.

DUTCH DECOY has been a master of consistency over the years, although his win record of 9-59 is not as good as it should be for a horse of his talents. His last win came on the July Course last summer when defeating today’s rival Hafeet Alain, but he went on to a strong sixth place on this track in the Cambridgeshire.

Having disappointed on soft ground in the Lincoln, he bounced right back to form when second over a mile here at the Craven meeting last month. He will definitely prefer this good going and is effectively 1lb well in today.

MAJESTIC can still get in near the bottom of the weights despite winning the 2022 Cambridgeshire and finishing fourth in last year’s renewal, confirming this 9f trip is probably the perfect one for him. He rarely runs a bad race and comes here off a very satisfactory prep when fifth over a furlong shorter in that race that Dutch Decoy was second in here last month.

Trainer Jack Channon is in outstanding form this spring with an 8-20 record in the past two weeks. One of the reasons for that success is a teaming up with top jockey David Probert who takes the mount once more today.

Punchestown 3.05: Western Zara & Your Own Story

Persistent rain has changed the going for the final day at Punchestown and horses that can go in soft ground and stay should now be the order of the day. I fancy two horses who should be coming into this in peak form after a quiet campaign up until today.

WESTERN ZARA has only been seen twice this season having started the year with an excellent second place in a 3m hurdle here in the autumn. Her only run since came in a listed Mares Chase at Fairyhouse recently where she was a staying on third over a trip short of her best.

That should have brought her on nicely for today and she ran some excellent races over marathon trips last season, highlighted by a third in the Porterstown at Fairyhouse over 3m5f. We can forget her run at this meeting last year on ground far too quick and where she finished lame. She responded pretty well to first time cheekpieces at Fairyhouse last time and the headgear can have a positive effect again today.

The stamina laden YOUR OWN STORY must come into calculations after the changing of the ground. This horse was most progressive in staying chases last season, winning Wetherby’s longest race in the calendar over 3m7f. He flew home to be sixth in the Scottish National on drying ground having been outpaced most of the way.

We did not seem him this term until March, where he was a satisfactory second at Newcastle over 3m and built on that to be second again at Kelso last time. Whilst he has good ground form, he is an out and out stayer and this trip is almost a minimum for him. The fact this race will now be more of a slog can only help and unlike many of these, he comes into the race reaching his peak fitness levels.

Punchestown 4.15: Cruz Control & Better Times Ahead

Another race where my choices have changed due to softening ground.

CRUZ CONTROL has lived up to his name this season, winning races from the front and despite his trainer’s reservations about drying ground at Aintree, he was able to hold off allcomers in as good a race as this despite a bad mistake six out. He is racing off only 4lbs higher today and the overnight rain will definitely assist him.

Trainer Tom Lacey has already trained a winner at the meeting and is in good form generally. Cruz Control’s easy heavy ground win at Newcastle in March confirmed that softening ground won’t hold any issues for him.

Another improving 7yo is BETTER TIMES AHEAD and is another to come here off a very light campaign. He showed his ability when winning a valuable handicap on heavy ground at Navan last season.

However that was the last time we saw him until he finished down the field at Gowran in February when looking understandably rusty. He built on that to finish second at Fairyhouse on Irish National day and the form of that race has taken a significant boost with Macdermott’s Scottish National win recently.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Apollo One – 1.45 Newmarket – 10/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Dutch Decoy – 2.20 Newmarket – 7/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way- Majestic – 2.20 Newmarket – 7/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)

0.5pts each-way – Western Zara – 3.05 Punchestown – 12/1 Skybet, Paddy Power, Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Your Own Story – 3.05 Punchestown – 6/1 Skybet, Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Cruz Control – 4.15 Punchestown – 5/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt each-way – Better Times Ahead- 4.15 Punchestown – 6/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 4)

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