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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Punts – Top Tips for Newmarket on Thursday, 11th July

Thursday’s racing sees the beginning of Newmarket’s July meeting. Matty Sutcliffe is on hand to try and find the best value winners with five selections across the card.

Published: 1.25pm, Tuesday, 9th July (Prices correct at time of publishing)

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1:50 Newmarket – Bahrain Trophy Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo) – Royal Supremacy 6/1 1pt WIN 

The 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 winners of this contest were all coming on the back of a defeat in the King Edward VIII Stakes at Ascot, which heightens interest in both Space Legend and ROYAL SUPREMACY, who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in that contest last month. The pair were comfortably beaten by what looks a Group One horse in the making, but I wouldn’t be all that sure Space Legend will uphold that form with Royal Supremacy, who was briefly short of room when mounting his challenge as the eventual winner closed the gap down the outside. 

That race was run on good to firm ground and conditions will be much slower here, and while Space Legend was a cosy winner on soft ground at Leicester earlier this season, I wouldn’t treat that form as gospel given he was the 4/11F so entitled to do so. Royal Supremacy will prefer the softer ground here as this Make Believe colt was just half a length behind subsequent Golden Gates Handicap winner Hand Of God in receipt of 2lbs at Sandown in April when closing all the time behind the prominent pair, before finishing second to the subsequent German Derby neck runner up Borna on soft ground in the Italian Derby, shaping as if requiring a further trip. 

Though we’ll obviously have to trust that course winner Ancient Wisdom’s rating of 114 flatters him, as he’s 6lbs clear on ratings with the field for his yard who won this with a similar type in Castle Way last season. I think that rating does flatter him however, largely down to his two year old season which culminated in a G1 Futurity Stakes win at Doncaster on heavy ground. He was a beaten favourite in the Dante on reappearance and the form hasn’t worked out, with the 3rd being well beaten behind Space Legend and Royal Supremacy at Ascot, then he was well beaten in he Derby though naturally not taking a liking to the track. Ancient Wisdom will have to put that effort behind him to take this against other progressive sorts which makes him a worthy type to take on toward the fore of the market. 

With just the five runners, it’s likely to be a tactical affair run at a slower tempo which will play into the hands of those with any stamina doubts, though that is all of the field, but that mightn’t aid the cause of both Space Legend and Kinesiology, who’re prone to racing keenly, which suggests Portland might be able to confirm that form with the latter. Portland was well beaten in the Hampton Court, splitting Al Musk and Caviar Height’s who were well behind Ancient Wisdom in the Dante, so I’d be confident we can take the O’Brien inmate on too. 

While Royal Supremacy will have to step up to take this, I’ve outlined concerns about the rest of the field and if this step up in trip on favourable soft ground unlocks further improvement then he can prove best of all at a more than pair price. 

Bahrain Trophy Stakes (Group 3)

2:25 Newmarket – Kingdom Of Bahrain July Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (2yo) – Ain’t Nobody 7/2 1.5pt WIN 

It’s rather remarkable that for a stalwart of the sprinting game, Kevin Ryan is yet to win this Group Two contest, though he got to within a length with Packing Stones in 2016. I’m hoping he’ll go two places better this time with AIN’T NOBODY, who was a compelling winner of the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, posting a 2lbs higher RPR than Tactical did in 2020 before going on to take the July Stakes.

While the form is open to question, it was the second quickest time of the race this decade, and quicker than the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes over C&D at the beginning of the card despite carrying 3lbs more, so he’s entitled to take this step up in class with ease on that evidence. Given how quick he was, naturally you’d have some doubts about him stepping up a furlong but I actually think he’ll improve a ton again for it. When winning at Carlisle, he was the quickest of the lot in each of the last two furlongs in a strongly run race given the ground, and the only one to clock a sub thirteen second furlong. He responded well to the late urgings of Tom Eaves, shaping as if six furlongs will be the natural option next time out particularly given the stiff uphill finish at Carlisle. 

It was perhaps a surprise to see him stick over five furlongs at Royal Ascot then, but he was extremely well backed from 22/1 into 5/1 throughout the day and duly obliged for the punters. That was impressive for a horse of his experience, particularly given how outpaced he looked going down to the two pole (fourth slowest in the race between 4f-3f). Once Jamie Spencer popped a serious question, he changed his legs and galloped through the line strongly, again clocking the quickest two final furlongs and shaping once more like an extra furlong would be no problem. 

Progeny of Sands Of Mali have fared well the last couple of months with some electric sorts, and he flourished over six furlongs as did Ain’t Nobody’s dam Burmese Waltz, including a second in the 2020 Silver Wokingham. She’s by a Showcasing mare so I wouldn’t be sure Ain’t Nobody will want much further than six furlongs, but we don’t have to worry about that just yet and I’d imagine the Gimcrack will be on connections’ mind at the Ebor Festival (both Sands Of Mali and Showcasing won it) should he show up well here. 

Kingdom Of Bahrain July Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings)

3:00 Newmarket – Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo 0-105) – Imperial Guard 12/1 0.5pt EW + Two Tribes 16/1 0.5pt EW 5 places 

In the last ten seasons, the six furlong charity handicap at York in June has an incredible knack for subsequently throwing up the winner of this Newmarket contest, with last years winner Quinault finishing completing the double, then Lethal Levi was 5th in 2022, Blackrod was 2nd in 2021, Foxtrot Lady was 5th in 2018, Ekhtiyaar was 5th in 2017, Dancing Star was 2nd in 2016, Magical Memory was 3rd in 2015, and Deeds Not Words was last in 2014, with all of them going on to win this race next time out. 

Immediately then, my eyes are drawn to Elmonjed, IMPERIAL GUARD and Tropical Storm who finished 3rd, 5th and 6th at York all within a length of each other. Elmonjed was sent off favourite both times this season at York, but has seemingly had no excuses and had the run of things last time out as did Tropical Storm who didn’t find much out in front, and I’ve come down on the highly regarded Imperial Guard, who can finally come good on turf having fared better than his finishing position suggested last time out and give Andrew Balding a third win in this race since 2016 (both came from York last time out). 

The 270,000gns son of Night Of Thunder has admittedly been a tad disappointing after showing up well in two Kempton novices as a two year old, firstly staying on when an eye-catcher on debut behind Orne who won the G3 Horris Hill later on and is now rated 102, before pulling eight lengths clear with Zoum Zoum when a beaten 4/6F, though that one subsequently beat Kikkuli (2nd in Jersey Stakes) before winning the listed Prix Herod stakes and is now rated 104. 

He returned with a good win down in trip at Kempton in March, and was sent off 8/13 favourite next time out before flopping, where the yard noted “There were apparent reasons, as he came back a little bit stiff behind, but it was too bad to be true and we can put a line through it.” The fact he was sent off so short to beat Jubilee Walk, who’s now rated 97 having won a York Handicap and a three length 11th around some of these in the Palace of Holyrood House Stakes (5/1F) at Ascot suggests Imperial Guard is quite clearly very highly regarded, and is more than entitled to take advantage of a mark of 83 at some stage. 

He wasn’t disgraced on turf debut off top-weight at Ascot in May, beaten two lengths when not helping himself by over-racing, but there were more positive signs at York last time out when lit up early on by the Coffee Pod in stall four rearing up and bumping into him at the start. He made good headway after initially travelling well in rear, staying on well albeit at the one pace having again been too keen throughout. 

If the experience of those two efforts on turf has brought him along and he can settle early on, then it’s only a matter of time before this well bred sort can take a nice prize. He’s a full brother to listed winner Electrical Storm, with the pair hailing from a beautiful Juddmonte dam-line including 1000 Guineas winner Wince, the dam of eleven length Yorkshire Oaks winner Quiff. By Night Of Thunder, he’ll have no qualms should the forecast rain arrive in abundance off a featherweight mark. 

The other who I’d like to play is TWO TRIBES, who although didn’t come from that York race, he was only a length behind the subsequent winner James’s Delight, who took the race at York off a 5lbs higher mark before going on to take listed honours in Deauville on Saturday, so I can’t leave him on that basis. That race on the Rowley Mile has worked out strongly elsewhere, with the fourth winning twice since climbing 10lbs in the process, the fifth bolted up at Redcar and was struck with a 9lbs rise, and the sixth was just beaten a neck by Woodhay Wonder next time out going up 4lbs. Two Tribes is potentially very well handicapped on that evidence, and we can upgrade his seven length fifteenth at Ascot behind a few of these when racing unfavourably on the nearside, staying on well up the dead ground to finish 3rd in his group of eight. While he’s developed a form of seconditis (5/8 runs he’s finished second), he’s at least an admirable each way proposition in that respect but given his top two RPR’s have come over six furlongs, this step back up in trip should suit and if replicating the form of his second to James’s Delight here (might’ve been closer with a clear run two out) then he’s entitled to be bang there off a mark of 91 for a yard whose runners tend to fare well here (26% place rate in course handicaps the last five seasons). 

Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap (Heritage Handicap)

3:35 Newmarket – Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (Sponsored By The Kingdom Of Bahrain) (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo+) – Arrest 7/2 1pt WIN 

I’ve never been a fan of ARREST, and taken him on countless times, but I’d be amazed should he not pick up a contest of this nature and now he’s finally been granted soft ground (should the forecast prevail), hopefully now is the time to catch him. 

On Timeform ground containing good-soft or worse in, his form figures read 1212, and we can add a further ‘1’ to that if taking into account his G3 Geoffrey Freer win on ground Racing Post described as ‘good-to-soft’, though we’d have to add a 7th to that if taking into account his 7th behind Hamish in the John Porter stakes earlier this year, however that ground was rapidly drying and the Gosden’s were confident he’d need the run, like the majority of their’s has this season. 

His efforts on similar ground include a five length beating of the 102 rated Sea Of Roses in a Ffos Las novice, giving away 11lbs. He was then beaten a head on heavy ground in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud by Dubai Mile, before bolting up on heavy ground in the Chester Vase by six lengths, shooting him to the top of the Derby market. He was sent off favourite there, but sweated up and lost a shoe, as well as failing to cope with firmer conditions. It wasn’t until he was second in the St Leger we saw him back to his supposed best which came on soft going, beaten two lengths by Continuous who was then beaten just three lengths down in trip in the Arc. 

This race can favour those to the fore with the winners of the 2023, 2021, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 renewals all noted to have either been ‘in touch with leaders’ or ‘made all’, and I’d imagine Kieran Shoemark to make it a strong test of stamina on Arrest to give the Gosden’s back to back wins in this contest if this strong, well built son of Frankel can settle early on. 

Hamish has to be respected on the back of his Coronation Cup 2nd, but his record above G3 level remains 4422 and is often vulnerable to an improver in this grade, and if Arrest can build on that second to Point Lonsdale at Chester (subsequently 3rd in Grand Prix-Saint Cloud, 3rd went close off top-weight in the Copper Horse next time out, fourth improved 5lbs on RPR’s on both subsequent outings), then he can topple the Haggas mount. Giavellotto is a course winner who can’t be written off, but has to give five pounds to both Arrest and Hamish which isn’t ideal down two furlongs in trip.

Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (Sponsored By The Kingdom Of Bahrain) (Group 2)
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