ITV Races

ITV Racing Tips: Mark Milligan has three Thursday Newmarket selections at up to 12/1

Newmarket July Course
Mark Milligan previews the action on Newmarket's July course

Mark Milligan looks at the ITV races on the first day Newmarket's July meeting and has a trio of selections...

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13:50 Newmarket - Back Space Legend

As we await the arrival of the great British summer (it will get here at some point, trust me), it looks highly likely that Newmarket's July meeting will be starting on easy ground, the track having recorded over 20mm of rain in the 24 hours prior to me writing this column.

That should be a help to last year's Doncaster Futurity winner Ancient Wisdom, who bids to justify favouritism in the opening 1m 5f Group 3 Bahrain Trophy, which is probably the first bona fide St Leger trial of the summer.

Whether or not you entirely trust him at a short price given his lacklustre run in the Derby is debatable and I prefer the claims of one who's on the up in the shape of Space Legend.

Wathnan Racing's son of Sea The Stars scooted up in a deep-ground Leicester maiden in April and has run well in defeat on his last two starts, finishing second on both occasions, the latest when bumping into a French buzzsaw in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.

Space Legend still looks open to improvement on just his fifth career start and soft clearly holds no fears for him judged on the Leicester effort and he has the physique of one that's likely to go on progressing for a while yet.

14:25 Newmarket - Back Whistlejacket

One of the talking horses of Royal Ascot was Aidan O'Brien's Whistlejacket, who it seems was confidently expected to land the Norfolk Stakes.

However, he failed to justify that confidence having been sent off a well-backed odds-on favourite, finishing only fourth, but I'm sure he's much better than he showed there and I'm taking him to get back on the up in the 6f Group 2 July Stakes.

Runner-up on debut at the Curragh in April, Whistlejacket impressed with how went through that race before he got a bit tired, a trait that was seen in plenty of the stable's early runners this season.

He made no mistake next time, stepping up to listed company at the same track and pulling clear of a subsequent Group 3 winner in fine style.

It was that performance that caused him to go off such a short price at the Royal meeting and perhaps he just found the ground on the quick side there, both of his first two starts coming on an easy surface.

The son of No Nay Never will have no such ground issues this time, with conditions set to be in his favour, and the step back up to 6f looking sure to be of benefit.

I'll be happy to back him at 2.6813/8 or bigger on the Exchange.

15:00 Newmarket - Back Sergeant Wilko each-way

This 6f Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds has a typically open look to it and chances can be given to virtually all of the field.

There are plenty coming in with positive profiles, but soft conditions may find out a few so I'm going to side each-way with one that handles soft ground well.

Kevin Ryan's Sergeant Wilko won a heavy ground maiden at Thirsk on just his second start as a juvenile and then faced a couple of stiff tasks in good company on his next two starts.

He didn't really improve when sent into nurseries either but has returned a better model this season and the key to him appears to be that he needs a soft surface on turf.

Sergeant Wilko returned with a win at on the all-weather at Newcastle in March and then got his favoured ground back on turf at Thirsk next time but could only finish fourth.

However, he found the drop back to 5f against him there and was quickly back on track returned to his optimum 6f trip at Leicester next time, recording a third career success in a good time.

There may well be more to come from Sergeant Wilko, and the jockey booking of Oisin Murphy is a big one for a yard that knows the time of day in this sort of race.

We also have five places available on the Sportsbook, which only adds to the appeal.

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.