Saturday ITV Racing Tips: Best bets for Newcastle, Newmarket and the Curragh

The Irish Derby is one of eight races being shown live on ITV on Saturday June 25 and we've an expert tip for each.

The reasons behind our selections (listed below) while anyone considering a punt or two would do well to check out the race cards for Newcastle, Newmarket and the Curragh, just a click away at Planet Sport's Racing Live Centre.

Selections:

Sir Titus (13.50 Newcastle)

Believing (14.05 Newmarket)

Sense Of Duty (14.25 Newcastle)

Universal Order (14.40 Newmarket)

Smart Champion each-way (14.55 Newcastle)

Laneqash (15.15 Newmarket)

Spirit Mixer / Rainbow Dreamer (15.30 Newcastle)

Westover (15.45 Curragh)

13.50 Newcastle - Sir Titus

It usually pays to be draw high on the straight 6f course here and Sir Titus, who is drawn highest of all in stall 12, could be the answer to what is a wide open sprint handicap.

The four-year-old has run two solid races in defeat since joining Michael Dods and on that evidence he looks ready to win for what would be the fourth time from just 11 career starts.

All his wins have come over 5f and twice on soft turf, admittedly, but he won on the tapeta surface here as a juvenile and was keeping on pretty well into third on his only previous try over 6f, again at this track.

As a half-brother to 6f-1m winner Caustic Love, today's extra furlong might even suit him and he hails from a stable with a great record with sprinters. He's also a big enough price to play each-way.

Another course winner in Strike Red, who ran his best race of the season so far when not beaten far into fourth on his most recent start, makes most appeal of the more fancied runners.

14.05 Newmarket - Believing

Richard Hannon's well-bred Minnetonka couldn't have been more impressive when scoring by seven lengths at Salisbury on her debut 13 days ago, and she's a worthy favourite for this 6f listed contest for juvenile fillies.

But several of her rivals also bring winning form to the table and they include George Boughey's hat-trick seeking Malrescia and Ralph Beckett's Lezoo, a cosy winner over 5f on her debut at Bath when giving the impression she'd be even better over this extra furlong.

Boughey is also represented by Believing, who caught the eye when finishing second behind subsequent Albany Stakes runner-up Mawj on her racecourse debut before going one better in convincing fashion at Wolverhampton, despite missing the kick and giving away 10 lengths at the start.

She has since been withdrawn at the start of that Royal Ascot race, having got upset in the stalls, but she was one of the first to be loaded on what was a swelteringly hot day and the stall handlers will be under different instructions this afternoon.

Clearly she's a risky proposition given her history but the ability is there and if breaking on terms under James Doyle, who rode a cool race on her last time, it's not hard to see her going close at a decent price.

14.25 Newcastle - Sense Of Duty

This 6f Group 3 represents another step up in grade for Sense Of Duty, who is also running on tapeta for the first time, but William Haggas' improving three-year-old filly looks up to the task and is taken to oblige for favourite backers.

She justified strong market support when a game winner of a Haydock Listed contest on her most recent start in May, which was taking her career record to 3-4, and the neck runner-up, Flotus, has since finished third of the 20 runners in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup to give the form a significant boost.

A big, scopey filly who surely has more improvement in her after just four starts, she's up against mostly older and more exposed rivals here and is getting weight from all of them thanks to her age and sex allowance. Her sire Showcasing also gets plenty of winners on the all-weather.

Spycatcher, a Group 2 runner-up over this trip at York two starts back and now tried in cheek-pieces after failing to pick up when last seen out, might give her most to do, while course and distance winner Edraak should also be in the shake-up.

14.40 Newmarket - Universal Order

Just the five runners for this 1m4f Listed race and two of them are trained by Charlie Appleby, with his Rebel's Romance just preferred in the betting over stablemate Kemari.

The former horse has last year's UAE Derby on his CV but is hard to recommend at a shortish price having twice run disappointingly at Meydan at the beginning of the year, not to mention his 134-day absence.

Kemari might have needed his first run since January when fourth over 1m6f at York earlier this month, but he's probably best over that longer trip and narrow preference is for Universal Order, who shaped best of those held up when second in a good quality Haydock handicap last month.

To be beaten a little over a length by Contact, who was in receipt of 12lb and has since finished third in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot, was arguably a career-best effort from David Simcock's six-year-old, and this looks a good opportunity for him to enhance his already healthy strike rate (6-14).

14.55 Newcastle - Smart Champion each-way

Even a 5lb penalty might not be enough to stop Evaluation from making it five wins from five runs this season in the consolation race for the Northumberland Plate, such is his rate of progress since joining Keith Dalgleish, and he was also winner on the all-weather for Sir Mark Prescott earlier in his career.

He's a worthy favourite and especially as his nearest rival in the betting, Zealandia is far from certain stayer with all his form coming at up to 1m4f, while another fancied runner in Mellow Magic finds it hard to win (1-11) and looks to be on the right mark.

But there are plenty of dangers lurking elsewhere and David Simcock's Smart Champion looks to have decent each-way claims, having been dropped to a 1lb lower mark than when successful over this course and distance, and in the knowledge he stays every yard of this trip.

A lack of pace has hampered him on both his starts this season, albeit he was only beaten a nose at Southwell two starts back when having to make his own running, and he'll surely be seen to better advantage getting a lead in what should be a well-run race, which will bring his stamina into play.

His high draw in stall 17 might not be as bad as it seems, given that he's likely to be dropped in behind runners by Luke Morris, and it's worth mentioning the last two winners of the Plate emerged from the same box.

15.15 Newmarket - Laneqash

The market principals all ran in last month's John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock, another Group 3 run over today's trip of 7f, in which Pogo made all and held off several challengers to score by a nose.

However, he picks up a penalty for that success and the runner-up Laneqash, who would have won in another stride or two, is fancied to reverse the form on 3lb better terms and with that run under his belt.

Roger Varian's four-year-old can also confirm placings with the Haydock fourth Sunray Major, who was race-fit and may be best over a mile. whereas the selection is establishing himself as a real seven-furlongs specialist.

If the weather forecast is correct, he'll also have the fast ground he needs to show his best and if any more positives were needed, we only need to look at the red-hot from of his stable: six winners already on the board this week at the time of writing.

15.30 Newcastle (Northumberland Plate) - Spirit Mixer / Rainbow Dreamer

Trueshan could only finish sixth 12 months ago off a mark of 118 and, while he's clearly improved again since then, he looks to face a monumental task off a 2lb higher mark giving upwards of 19lb to his 19 rivals.

The top stayer in training can't be totally dismissed of course with his regular rider Hollie Doyle up top (1112111 on him) and in top shape having been primed for a race at Royal Ascot before fast ground ruled him out, but there are plenty of alternatives with decent claims and he's not even favourite this time around (5/2 last year).

That honour goes to Hugo Palmer's Rajinsky and the six-year-old certainly has the recent form in the book to take a strong hand, having beaten subsequent Royal Ascot winner Get Shirty on his seasonal reappearance and then finishing a close-up third in the Chester Cup under Harry Davies (back on board).

However, he's twice been beaten in this race off much lower marks and when you factor in his stable form - 1-30, 3% in the last fortnight - he makes no appeal at his current short odds.

Nicholas T was a shock 33/1 winner last year but, him aside, the market has proved a good guide to recent renewals with seven of the previous nine winners going off no bigger than 8/1 - the exceptions were 12/1 and 16/1 - and the one that makes the most appeal from that price bracket is Andrew Balding's Spirit Mixer.

A beautifully bred son of Frankel out of Juddmonte winner Arabian Queen, he has taken his form to a much higher level this season in rattling off a hat-trick in handicaps before his winning spree came to an end at Chester last time out, when his rider was unable to get any cover from a wide draw, with the additional ground covered costing him dear.

On that evidence, he's still got more to offer as a stayer and Callum Hutchinson, who is 3-5 on him and claims a valuable 5lb, keeps the ride.

Callum Hutchinson claims a valuable 5lb on the selection

His stablemate Valley Forge, the mount of David Probert, was also considered, but the other one to back for a race it's well worth firing at least a couple of arrows at is Alan King's Rainbow Dreamer, the mount of Kevin Stott.

Like Nicholas T, he's a nine-year-old and all the recent evidence suggests he's no back number having won a small race at Wolverhampton earlier this year and run respectably in defeat on a couple of starts at this track, including on All-Weather Finals Day in April.

We can put a line through his well beaten effort in last year's renewal as he got badly squeezed just after the start, causing his rider to reign him back into a poor racing position from which he never recovered, and that was coming off a mark of 110. He was also a close-up fifth in the 2020 version off 107.

He's now rated 98, having been kindly dropped 4lb since his last run, and he has clearly been freshened up for another crack and having had his wind operated on for good measure.

Three winning stablemates this week, all at good prices (6/1, 4/1 and 11/2), seals the bet at double-figure odds.

15.45 Curragh (Irish Derby) - Westover

Aidan O'Brien is bidding for a remarkable 15th success in the Irish Derby with Tuesday, who is already a Classic winner having won the Epsom Oaks on her most recent start and was supplemented earlier this week at a cost of €75,000.

A proven stayer and versatile over the ground - so any rain that falls won't inconvenience her - she looks to have a much better chance than the same stable's Qualify, who tried to do the Oaks-Irish Derby double in 2015, and emulate Balanchine, the last filly to achieve the feat in 1994.

Standing in her way, however, is Ralph Beckett's Westover who arrives on the back of a career-best third in the Epsom equivalent, in which he relished the step up to 1m4f and ran better than the bare result would imply, having been stopped in his run repeatedly from over two furlongs out and then eating up the ground when in the clear to almost grab second.

If everything had gone his way on the Downs, he would surely have given the winner Desert Crown something to think about and the galloping nature of the Curragh will play to his strengths more, while he also has winning form on ground with cut in it should conditions deteriorate from the current 'good'.

He'll be without his regular jockey Rob Hornby, who has been on board the son of Frankel on four of his five outings, but his replacement, three-time Irish champion Colin Keane, knows this track inside out and his experience will count for plenty.

But this is no match and Epsom also-ran Piz Badile could fare better over this track, while Goodwood winner Lionel is improving and looks certain to stay at least this far.

Joseph O'Brien's Hannibal Barca needs to prove his stamina on his first try over 1m4f, but he was keeping on well enough at the finish when landing the Gallinule Stakes over two furlongs shorter on his reappearance, and he too has plenty of untapped potential.

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