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Horse Racing - Racing: Keith Melrose's Newbury tips

Newbury hosts the biggest British meeting on Saturday, featuring the Super Sprint and the bet365 Hackwood Stakes. Keith Melrose provides his best bets.

1.50 Newbury
Grocer Jack @ 11/4
1pt win

2.21 Newbury
Diamond Bay @ 5/1
1pt win

2.56 Newbury
Great Ambassador @ 20/1
1pt each-way

Green light for Grocer

The bet365 (Steventon) Stakes is a closely-matched event, far more so than the early betting suggests with Cadillac a warm favourite.

He ran a cracker on his first run for Kevin Philippart De Foy after leaving Jessica Harrington, but Grocer Jack has been subject of a much more obviously positive trainer change and deserves plenty of respect.

Grocer Jack was essentially top-class in Germany. He passed the post third in the German Derby, finished fourth to Torquator Tasso in a Group 1 in 2020 and came second to Skalleti in the same race last year. He also won two Group 3s, which shows his ability in reference to this Listed affair.

Having been with Waldemar Hickst, who has enjoyed plenty of success on the Continent, Grocer Jack has joined William Haggas whose skills have been displayed literally the world over.

Despite a disjointed time with Haggas so far, he has all but matched his German form and, now with a recent run behind him and at the sort of level where is already proven, today is the day Grocer Jack should show us what he can do.

Diamond to shine

The staying handicap at 2.21 has what might euphemistically be termed 'plenty of old favourites'. Most of the runners are pretty exposed, basically, and form like that held by the progressive Diamond Bay commands plenty of respect.

It was around this time last year that Diamond Bay's stamina started to be teased out and his form came on leaps and bounds as a result.

That has carried on this season, even though on his last couple of starts he has been learning his new job as a stayer.

He was short-headed at Salisbury last time, finishing just behind the well-handicapped Dancing Harry, who suits fast finishes like what played out that day. Half a length behind was Super Superjack, one of the most progressive stayers around.

Because of the bunched finish that day, Diamond Bay has been left on the same BHA mark. That does not reflect his recent improvement and he can serve it up to the field of largely old stagers that stand in his way today.

Walker has a Great chance

The bet365 Hackwood Stakes has an open look to it and one that looks to have been significantly overlooked is the Ed Walker-trained Great Ambassador.

He started improving at around this point last season and signed off with one of the handicap performances of the season when second in the Ayr Gold Cup off 106.

That day Great Ambassador suffered a misfortune familiar to many sprint handicappers: being in the wrong place. He came from stall one and won his side by several lengths, only to be pipped by Bielsa who had gone solo on the opposite rail.

So good was that performance that Great Ambassador deserved a shot at a Group 1 and he got it in the Platinum Jubilee last time. However, it was his first run since Ayr and he shaped as though in need of the outing.

On Racing Post Ratings, he is already good enough to win an average running of the Hackwood, and the openness of the betting drops a strong hint that he has landed in one of those. He looks a storming each-way bet.

By Keith Melrose

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