The first day of the July Meeting at Newmarket kicks off on Thursday with an intriguing-looking card. Two Group 2s headline proceedings and here are Nick Luck’s fancies.


PLEASANT MAN is a play at 15/2 in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on Thursday (1.50pm). A useful two-year-old with a decent pedigree, he had Derby aspirations at the beginning of this season, only to disappoint. Having been gelded, however, he looked a different proposition at Salisbury last time, getting on top comfortably in what is habitually a pretty warm race. Better ground should suit him well, and this trip looks spot on. The market is made by Yibir, who looks a slightly doubtful stayer, and Stowell, whose Queens Vase form is difficult to assess.

EBRO RIVER gets a narrow vote over stablemate Dig Two in the July Stakes (2.25pm) at 5/1. He ran an outstanding race at Ascot in the Coventry given where he was positioned deep on the track, and he might also have been caught out by the stiffer test over six furlongs there. This six should suit his running style well, and the ground and track will be no issue to him.

EQUALITY is a sporting pick at 18/1 in the big sprint handicap (3.00pm). I made a strong case in my Royal Ascot column that he was an extremely well handicapped horse on his two runs in the spring, and I have not deviated from that opinion even though he then promptly finished last. Quite simply, the ground had gone completely by the time he ran and, having made quite taking headway, he was allowed to come home in his own time. Now that he has been forgotten, it may be the time to catch him.

SIR RON PRIESTLEY might be a bit of value at 5/1 to upset Al Aasy in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes (3.35pm). I love the favourite, and he should really beat these well, but I have a suspicion that the selection could get a pretty easy time of it on the front here. He really looked the part over on the Rowley Mile earlier in the season, and I’m not sure he’s enjoyed the ground either at York or Ascot since.

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