Hanson: Spot Plays for Newmarket April 17

April 16th, 2024

Horseplayers looking to turn an annual profit are typically advised to exploit their handicapping strengths and limit their relative weaknesses. There's a particular strength of mine that I hope to exploit again, starting this week.

Long-time readers of this space, as well as those who have heard my occasional appearances on radio, are perhaps aware of my fondness for following and betting the Group stakes action during the British flat season, which typically runs from mid-April through the end of October. After showing a profit on win bets during the last two British flat seasons ($2.31 ROI in 2022 and $2.48 ROI in 2023 for every $2 wagered), I thought I'd take it a step further and turn my 2024 play into a more public exercise.

Beginning this week, I'll publish my win plays on all British Group stakes I partake in, as well as selected other stakes. The races I choose will generally be during the prominent two- to five-day festivals as well as those select single days highlighted by a Group 1 contest.

To make it more interesting, I'll also incorporate a bankroll. My betting capital will be $1,000 for the season, and I will wager a fixed 5% of the bankroll balance on each win play. I explained the potential benefits of being a higher roller, on occasion, last year, and updates on the how the bankroll is faring will be provided at the start of each post.

The flat season, which technically started late last month at Doncaster, really kicks into gear this week with Guineas trials at Newmarket on Wednesday and Thursday and at Newbury on Saturday. Let's start off at Newmarket on Wednesday with a $50 win bet on our first play. Our second will hopefully be a lot higher, or $48.

Race 2 -- Feilden Stakes (9:25 a.m. ET)

This nominal classic prep over nine furlongs has attracted an early field of 10. #4 Gasper De Lemos (7-1) was no match for Arabian Crown (currently fourth choice in ante-post wagering for the Epsom Derby [G1]) in the Zetland (G3), a 1 1/4-mile test of stamina over this course in mid-October, but won't have to face a colt of that caliber here.

Granted, there wasn't much behind Gasper De Lemos in the Zetland; only two other horses raced, though one, Dallas Star, recently sprung a 50-1 upset of the Ballysax (G3) at Leopardstown. Gasper De Lemos might see faster ground here than what he proved best over last fall, but he still looks like one of the more logical contenders at a decent early price.

Race 4 -- Nell Gwyn (G3) (10:35 a.m. ET)

This field of 11 three-year-old fillies has two confirmed Group performers already in #2 Dance Sequence, the likely odds-on choice, and #7 Matrika, who won two of three last term. I was more taken with Dance Sequence's debut score over the July Course than in her subsequent victory in the Oh So Sharp (G3), while Matrika was one of the more precocious members of the crop but did not race beyond July 1.

Those fillies might ultimately prove to be the class of this seven-furlong test, but #11 True Cyan (12-1) is a promising sort and a better price for trainer Roger Varian, who won the Nell Gwyn five years ago with Qabala. One of only four in the field with an entry in the 1000 Guineas (G1), True Cyan turned in an eye-catching debut win over this course and distance on Sept. 30. Needing little encouragement, she turned in a strong turn of foot to pass most of her 16 rivals while rallying on the near side over ground similar to what she might encounter here.

Although respecting Dance Sequence, True Cyan looks worth taking a swing at as we start what will hopefully be another profitable year in jolly old England.