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Special Features

ITV Ante-Post Selections – Tips For All Seven Races From Newmarket & Newcastle

Glen Shiel

One of the big all-weather meetings of the year occurs this weekend, with Newcastle hosting the Northumberland Plate. Worth over £80,000 to the winner, it is a handicap worth winning, and with Group races at both tracks to look forward to as well, sign up with SkyBet, who are offering £30 in Free Bets when you bet £10.


Tommy De Vito (1.50 Newcastle) SP

Only a maximum of 14 can run in this 6f handicap and TOMMY DE VITO is currently 17th on the list on official ratings. However, with a few above him never having run on the all-weather before, it seems likely he will make it in.

The prices for this contest are yet to go up, but Charlie Hills’ five-year-old is likely to be a decent each-way price after a couple of below par efforts more recently. However, his record on artificial surfaces is excellent with three wins and two seconds from six starts.

One of those victories came over course and distance as a three-year-old while he returned from a 481-day break from July 2020 with back-to-back wins at Kempton and Southwell. He was then runner-up again in the former in a particularly strong handicap in March of this year.

He was down the field at Lingfield behind If You Dare, who may also run here, but the son of Dandy Man found himself miles too far back to challenge in a race won by the front-runner. Although only ninth of 11, he was fewer than two lengths behind the third.

He can be excused a poor run on turf given most of his career has been spent on polytrack or tapeta. His mark of 88 is only 2lb above his last winning one and should he run here, he should get himself involved.


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Malrescia (2.05 Newmarket) SP

The only defeat of MALRESCIA’s career so far has been to the runaway Queen Mary winner Dramatised. Since then, she has been mightily impressive.

After that running-on second at Newmarket, she was a ready winner at Hamilton on soft ground before stepping up to 6f at Lingfield on the all-weather. George Boughey’s filly dealt with both transitions superbly, winning by 4¼ lengths under a 5lb penalty.

She is also very well-bred, with her full sibling Testa being a Listed winner in France, while half-sister Lismore is a talented, 105-rated stayer for Henry De Bromhead. In time, sprint distances are likely to be too short for her.

For now, however, she has demonstrated prodigious speed. Making all at Lingfield was particularly impressive and there are no worries about returning to turf. Wide-margin Salisbury winner Minnetonka and two-time scorer Absolutelyflawless are dangers.


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Glen Shiel (2.25 Newcastle) 9/1

It is a surprise that the tried and tested class horse in this race is such a price for this Group 3, especially one who has such a fine record over course and distance.

Perhaps the near two-year gap between runs on the all-weather has intervened enough that GLEN SHIEL is seen as a waning force who has to prove himself once more. However, it has been only eight months since he was second in the Group 1 British Champions’ Sprint Stakes, the race he won in 2020. That form still stands out substantially above the rest of this lineup.

Moreover, in that incredibly successful 2020, in which he won four and was second thrice in eight starts, he ran all his races over track and trip. His form by the end of those read 211 with both victories coming in cosy fashion from the front.

Even this term, he has not dipped significantly below his best. Indeed, Archie Watson has usually kept him under wraps until the summer, with his sole run last spring, and both this season, in keeping with a level just slightly lower than his capabilities. Should he improve as is likely, he will be the one to beat.


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Max Vega (2.40 Newmarket) 5/2

Regal Reality is interesting stepping up to this trip so late in his career. On breeding, he would have a fair shout of being suited by it, but the seven-year-old surely is not what he once was.

Despite staying on well in the Listed Wolferton Stakes over 1m2f at Royal Ascot, he is worth opposing with a horse more guaranteed of staying. MAX VEGA may not have been able to live with Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup, but he impressed on his return at Newbury.

To that end, it is intriguing that despite clearly having been seen as a stayer by Ralph Beckett since October 2020, he has actually put in his best two performances in that timespan over 1m4f. Though he has at times been solid over further, his two runs at middle distances have seen him be second and first in a pair of Group 3s at Newbury.

In the first, he was behind only course and distance specialist Ilaraab, before his consistent galloping saw him overturn that form on reappearance in the John Porter Stakes in April. This field is arguably weaker than that race too, so he should be right in the mix.


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Moliwood (3.00 Newcastle) SP

There is still a chance that MOLIWOOD may make it into the Northumberland Plate and rise above this race. However, in this weaker lineup, with few who are evidently upwardly mobile, he looks one to keep on side.

Four-year-olds have won the last three runnings of this and Moliwood has contested four strong races in 2022. He won the first of those over 2m at Kempton, before finishing a close fourth to Bandinelli at the same track in March. Though he was only seventh of 12 on All-Weather Championships day over course and distance, he was contesting that as one of the most lowly-rated in the field. He acquitted himself well to not be beaten far.

Back on turf, he was tailed off at Newmarket over m6f, but his form on all-weather surfaces is what is worth focusing on. A mark of 89 is both 1lb above his winning one from January and 1lb below his excellent effort at Kempton in March.

Both of those factors suggest he is going to challenge once again and continue his excellent record on the all-weather.


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Bass Player (3.15 Newmarket) 20/1

It might be worth taking a chance on one at a big price here. Aldaary would be a strong fancy for this if rain were to fall, but it seems very likely that he will be pulled from this if the ground remains quicker.

Plenty of these repose each other from the Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes won by Pogo at Haydock. That bunched finish suggests that none of those who were narrowly denied, including Laneqash and Sunray Major are that outstanding at this level.

As such, Tom Clover’s BASS PLAYER may be one to keep an eye on as the least experienced in the field. He was a solid winner on debut at Doncaster before immediately being pitched into Listed company at Epsom on Oaks day.

He showed a lot of his inexperience, being both slowly away and keen. However, early on in the straight, he looked like the winner, only to run down Epsom’s camber on a day where the majority of races concluded against the stands side rail. He gave up vital ground, and was third to Ever Given, also entered in this race.

Winning will require a big step forward, but the July Course’s straight 7f should be easier for him to acclimatise to than Epsom. Clover continues to be ambitious with him too, suggesting he is rated highly at home.


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Solent Gateway (3.30 Newcastle) 20/1

The talk, if he is declared, will be all about Trueshan, who would be a truly remarkable participant in this off a mark of 120.

That would entitle him to a weight of 10st 8lb, unheard of for a flat handicap. He was sixth in the race a year ago off 118 before his pair of Group 1 successes at Goodwood and Longhcamp, but Alan King is clearly intent on setting the record straight here by keeping him in the race.

Nevertheless, even a horse as talented as he is must struggle to bear that burden. Instead, a chance is taken on the inconsistent SOLENT GATEWAY for Hugo Palmer.

Palmer also has Rajinsky in the race, who is challenging for favouritism. However, perhaps Solent Gateway is underestimated in the market. He was disappointing in the Chester Cup when too keen, but his two runs at Epsom either side of that have been encouraging.

His third on his seasonal and stable debut was unlucky given he could not get a clear run until carried wide late on. Even more unfortunate was his run on Derby day, in which he got so squeezed for room when travelling well that it must have cost him at least ten lengths and all the momentum that comes with that.

He has been dropped an extra 1lb by the handicapper, which given he was won over 2m before, is something to take note of. He should be fine on the all-weather and that could ensure he is a player at a price.


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ITV Racing Selections

Tommy De Vito (1.50 Newcastle) SP

Malrescia (2.05 Newmarket) SP

Glen Shiel (2.25 Newcastle) 9/1

Max Vega (2.40 Newmarket) 5/2

Moliwood (3.00 Newcastle) SP

Bass Player (3.15 Newmarket) 20/1

Solent Gateway (3.30 Newcastle) 20/1


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