Handicap favourites to back or lay at Newmarket on Friday

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Outright favourites have a 33% strike rate over the last five seasons in handicaps at Newmarket. Statistically speaking, that means four of the six favourites in this type of race will not win at Friday’s meeting. The trick is identifying the favourites to back or oppose.

Recent history points to two winning favourites in Newmarket handicaps, and the most likely contenders are running in the 13:10 and 13:40 races. Al Rufaa and Sparkling Olly are the good things at Flat racing’s HQ this week, and the double pays almost +500 with BetOnline.

Al Rufaa runs in the third race on the card, the Newmarket Volunteer Network Handicap, over seven furlongs on what is expected to be good to firm ground. The horse has won at the distance and in the class. Eleven runners have been declared to run in the race for horses aged three and older.

On Official Ratings, Al Rufaa and Give It Some Teddy are closely matched, but the former’s rating is due to go up by six pounds in future races. In theory, the horse has six pounds or more in hand over the rest of the field, and that kind of advantage is significant in a handicap.

Al Rufaa is trained by John Gosden, who has a 30% win record with all his runners at Newmarket this season. Robert Havlin takes the ride this week and has a 20% strike rate on horses trained by Gosden. More than 50% of those horses have been placed.

Give It Some Teddy could be overpriced at +900 considering he has won on the ground and at the level. However, the handicapper may have caught up with the top weight, which carries seven pounds more than Al Rufaa. That would be only one pound in future races.


Al Rufaa won a Class 4 handicap at Kempton earlier this month carrying 09-08. The winning distance was almost five lengths, so the 09-10 weight for the Newmarket race means the horse has something in hand over the rest of the field. Al Rufaa could be a blot on the handicap.

Al Namir looks a big price at +750 and good value to make the payout places. The horse comes from a top yard but is having his first race for 373 days. He has had wind surgery since the last run and is probably best watched for win purposes, as Al Rufaa has those bases covered.

Sparkling Olly is a clear favourite in the next race, a Class 5 handicap for fillies aged three and older over one mile. She is another horse whose rating will go up in future races, in this case by three pounds. Anfield Girl is second best in the ratings but eight pounds inferior to Sparkling Olly.

The favourite is trained by Ralph Beckett, who has sent out 366 winners from 2,192 runs over the last five years for a strike rate of 17%. Rob Hornby takes the ride and has ridden 17 winners for Beckett from 94 rides over the last 12 months at a strike rate of over 18%.

Anfield Girl does not have the form to beat Sparkling Olly. Feel Good Factor is next in the betting, but her OR is set to go down in the future. Top Class Angel has only been placed at or above the current handicap mark.

Sparkling Olly won her last start, a similar race at Chepstow over one mile. The horse produced a mark of 80 but gets in off 77 in this race. Those three pounds could be the difference between winning and not winning this Class 5 race.

Al Rufaa and Sparkling Olly are not running off their true mark and will be higher in the handicap in future races. Now is the time to profit from the discrepancy, which makes them the favourites to back at Newmarket this Friday.

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