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Newmarket best bet: Imperial Guard can march to victory in conditions set to suit

Fresh from Wednesday’s 11/1 winner, Tipstrr racing pundit Steve Jones hopes to double up with his best-bet Daily Bargain from the biggest handicap on the opening day of the Newmarket July Festival.

15:00 Newmarket: Bet Boost at bet365 Handicap  (6 furlongs)

A key form race in respect of this event is the Macmillan Sprint Handicap, which took place at York last month and was won by the hugely progressive James’s Delight, who has since won a Listed prize in France and is now rated 110 (well ahead of today’s level).

Three of the next five home behind James’s Delight in that high-quality 17-runner renewal of the York handicap last month are also in today’s field.

But one who can build on that York performance is Imperial Guard, who came in a never-nearer fifth at York after being badly hampered by a rival who reared at the start and bumped into him coming out of the stalls.

That put Imperial Guard on the back foot in the early stages and he raced very keenly in the early stages as a result, but nevertheless, once he got into his rhythm, he travelled smoothly and he finished off his race very strongly, making up plenty of ground on the principals in the closing stages.

He looks a better bet than the filly, Tropical Island, who is a shorter price than he is in the early market despite the fact that she had a much kinder trip, up with the pace the whole way but eventually overhauled by Imperial Guard in the last stride, after having led the field into the final furlong.

Today’s track, with its uphill finish, should suit Imperial Guard, who stays up to seven furlongs, better than the perfectly flat speed track at York.

Suggested best bet: Imperial Guard each-way in the 15:00 at Newmarket

Indeed, Imperial Guard finished closer to the winner in a six-furlong handicap at Ascot in May, when he was again never nearer than at the line on ground that was a bit quicker.

That was his very first race on turf and he is still very much unexposed in this sphere after only two attempts.

Today’s combination of a slower surface and the strong pace likely to be generated by this large field should set this up perfectly for the strong-finishing Imperial Guard, who would clearly have finished a lot closer than he did at York but for being impeded at the start.

Andrew Balding often targets this race, having has won it twice in recent seasons, and he looks to have Imperial Guard primed to peak in today’s renewal on ground conditions that should be ideal.



READ MORE: Newmarket July Festival Thursday tips: Best bets for ITV action on Day 1, July 11

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