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Alan Kelly’s Horse Racing Tips

Horse racing tips for the meetings at Newmarket & Cheltenham on Thursday

We’ve got daily tips from our resident horse racing expert, Alan Kelly.


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Once again, Aintree’s Grand National three-day meeting did not disappoint, although we ended the week with a small loss of -£4.15. Despite selections making the frame at odds of 14/1, 18/1, 25/1 and 33/1, that elusive big-priced winner failed to materialise.

  • P/L for w/e Saturday 13th April: -£4.15
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  • P/L since 1st September 2022: +£353.54

Alan Kelly’s Horse Racing Tips for Thursday, April 18th

The ITV Racing cameras will cover four races from Newmarket Racecourse on the second day of their Craven meeting on Thursday afternoon, along with a couple of Mares’ Series Finals from Cheltenham’s jumps card.

Nap of the Day - Alcantor (3:35pm Newmarket) - 10/3 with bet365*

This Qipco 2000 Guineas trial is unlikely to have a bearing on the Newmarket Classic, Andre Fabre’s Gallic challenger expected to earn his place in the French equivalent with a victory in this Group 3 contest.

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Alcantor (Nap)

3:35pm Newmarket

1:30pm Cheltenham, 2m 1f - Emotivo (Each-Way)

Of the three Irish challengers for this £40k Juvenile Premier Handicap, the one who makes plenty of appeal is the Henry de Bromhead-trained EMOTIVO (Each-Way), the mount of Darragh O’Keeffe. This will be the fourth start over hurdles for the daughter of Belardo, who has improved with each run to date over the smaller obstacles and looks well treated on her handicap debut off a mark of 111.

On her most recent start, Emotivo was sent off joint-favourite for a juvenile maiden hurdle at Hereford in February. Despite finishing 20 lengths clear of the third horse Mountain Lake, the each-way selection had to settle for second spot, two and a half lengths behind fellow rival Spiced Rum.

Stuart Kittow’s charge went on to win a juvenile handicap at Sandown before being beaten a little over a length in a similar race at Ascot last month. Now meeting David Noonan’s mount on 6lb better terms and with plenty of improvement to come, Emotivo is fancied to record yet another win for the Irish. In a race in which runners from the Emerald Isle could dominate, Willie Mullins’ top weight Karia Des Blaises and Evening’s Empire from the Eddie & Patrick Harty stable are the others to consider.

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Emotivo (Each-Way)

1:30pm Cheltenham

3:00pm Newmarket, 6f - Makarova (Each-Way)

A cracking renewal of this Group 3 Abernant Stakes, named after one of the greatest sprinters of the post-war period. While this 6f contest may not be the classiest of renewals, it is certainly one of the most competitive.

While it is possible to make a case out for most of the runners, the Karl Burke-trained pair of Marshman and Spycatcher being just a couple, I think the Ed Walker-trained mare MAKAROVA (Each-Way) is capable of running a big race and worth backing at 14/1 with most bookmakers going 4 places.

Jockey William Buick will be on board the daughter of Acclamation for the first time, a horse now rated 107 from a mark of 68 around this time two years ago. While Makarova only managed to win one of her nine starts in 2023, a listed contest at Ayr, she proved a model of consistency throughout.

The mare was beaten a total of fourth lengths when fourth and sixth respectively in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York and Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day, a repeat of either would put this talented sprinter bang in the mix for today’s lesser contest.

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Makarova (Each-Way) (4 places)

3:00pm Newmarket

3:35pm Newmarket, 1m - Alcantor (Nap)

A Qipco 2000 Guineas trial in name only, the shortest priced of the seven runners for the first Classic of the season being John & Thady Gosdens’ Eben Shadaad at around 66/1, the Calyx colt having been put firmly in his place by City Of Troy in the Dewhurst on his final outing as a juvenile.

Godolphin’s Native Approach is obviously held in high regard by the boys in blue. But the son of Too Darn Hot only has a Kempton maiden victory to his name so far, ahead of his first start on turf. William Buick’s mount has been installed favourite at 11/8 for this Group 3 contest, ahead of French challenger ALCANTOR (Nap) at 10/3.

Andre Fabre’s charge ran out an impressive winner of a Saint-Cloud Group 3 last September and was expected to follow up on that course just over three weeks later in the Group 1 Criterium International, only to be outstayed close home by the David Menuisier-trained Sunway in the very soft conditions.

Alexis Pouchin’s mount looked the winner for most of that race and will surely appreciate today’s forecast good ground. I expect Alcantor to be aimed at the French 2000 Guineas next (Poule D’Essai Des Poulains) and this looks a good stepping stone to the French Classic. I anticipate both horses to be much closer together in the betting come post-time.

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Alcantor (Nap)

3:35pm Newmarket

5:20pm Newmarket, 7f - Poet Master (Each-Way) (Next Best)

Of the 15 runners for this Class 2 seven-furlong handicap, if there is a contender who is likely to make up into a Listed, or possibly Group performer, it has to be the Karl Burke-trained POET MASTER (Each-Way), who begins his four-year-old campaign off what could prove to be a lucrative mark of 100.

Unraced as a juvenile, the Lope De Vega gelding was beaten only once in four starts as a three-year-old, winning all of those races without being extended, the last of which was a Doncaster handicap off a mark of 92. Poet Master’s one defeat came on his handicap debut at Haydock in August when pulling far too hard in the hands of today’s rider, Sam James.

In a race consisting mainly of exposed handicappers, I will be disappointed if the selection does not turn out to be much better than his 14 rivals as the season progresses. Joint bottom weight Security Code is interesting on his first start for trainer Richard Hannon and any money for Hollie Doyle’s mount should be noted, while Andre Fabre has a rare runner in a handicap at headquarters courtesy of Suviana, who is also worth checking for any market support.

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Poet Master (Each-Way) (4 places)

5:20pm Newmarket

* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.

About Alan Kelly

A passionate follower of horse racing for over 50 years, Alan has enjoyed a 40-year career in the betting industry, 28 of which he spent running his own betting shop as an owner/manager.

A successful punter with a keen eye for value, Alan has had many betting highlights down the years, including a Scoop 6 win and has shown a consistent profit in the battle with bookmakers since joining in 2008.

You can follow Alan on Twitter for more racing insight.

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Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

A horse racing expert on for over a decade, Alan Kelly has you covered with his daily racing tips.