Tag Archives: Newcastle

Saturday Selections: April, 20th 2019

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Good Friday could have been a great Friday if Landing Night wouldn’t have been beaten in a tight finish in the ‘unlucky last’ at Newcastle. Thankfully Matterhorn got me out of jail (7/1) what would have been otherwise a painful day.

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4.45 Brighton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

This is a competitive race; I can make good cases for half of them, so backing the favourite doesn’t seem wise. Still, already a course and distance winner off 3lb higher in similarly fast conditions last year, could be supremely well handicapped.

The 4-year-old, despite a poor overall record, ran to a TS rating of 70 when winning here last year; the form looks solid enough to believe it was a true running. He had a good seasonal comeback run an the All-Weather lately, so fitness is assured.

Interesting jockey booking with young Cieren Fallon on board, who’s worth every pound of his 7lb claim as he proved with worthiness on the All-Weather this year already.

Selection:
10pts win – Swissal @ 7/2 MB

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7.50 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Twice a course and distance scorer, Junoesque returns to her happy hunting ground. Those were her only victories to date, they came here last season on fast ground as well. She’s pretty much the same mark, give or take a pound, and proved in the past to be capable of running to a bit higher than that.

In fact Junoesque ran to a TS rating of 58 on both occasions when winning here at Brighton, as well as to 54 in another race – suggesting, if conditions are right, she as good, if not even a little bit better than her current 55 rating.

Fitness has to be trusted on her seasonal reappearance. But this looks an ideal opportunity to get another win on the board.

Selection:
10pts win – Junoesque @ 5/1 MB

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Good Friday Selections – April, 19th 2019

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As the sun shows up more often these days, the garden becomes a more frequented place to spend time in and the general mood lifts, one could get easily overexcited. I am quite excited, in fact!

It’s not often I do fancy so many horses in a single day; having a handful of bets bears the danger of possibly given in to emotion rather than rationality. Fancying someone doesn’t equal loving someone. So, not every fancy is a quality bet.

I hope I used my head to identify some quality selections for this ‘Super Friday’, regardless. Could be a massive day, could be a brutal day…. we shall see. It’s the long-term that matters, of course. There’re days when it still would be nice to get a reward for the shift put in.

Either way, let’s enjoy the superb ‘Good Friday’ racing!

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3.20 Newcastle: Listed Burradon Stakes, 1m

Before I went to bed last night I was all over Daarik. I loved his last two runs, the sudden turn of foot he produced, his classy pedigree and Jim Crowley’s Newcastle record in spring time – but I was sleepy, so deferred decision.

Good decision! I’m now all over Magic J. Hence I discarded Daarik. The doubts I had over him became too big to punt him at around 7/2:

Physically he doesn’t seem to have improved much over the winter, the fact he started his juvenile season rather early – which makes sense as a February foal – suggests he was potentially precocious last year, though injury prevented him from running during the good months of the year. And he’s done nothing on the clock, despite those two visually impressive victories.

Magic J in contrast – same as Darrik, also with an entry for the 2000 Guineas (both Newmarket & Curragh) – looked physically strong, open for plenty of improvement in his only start last year. He won a poor maiden over 6f at Yarmouth but did that in excellent style.

This colt cost nearly a million US$ as a yearling, which is logical, given his incredibly sexy pedigree. Connections stated he’s been working well at home, see him still as a potential Guineas horse, though the mile is the question mark as he shows plenty of speed.

Pedigree wise the mile looks more than only a possibility. The All-Weather looks also rather certain to suit. This isn’t on the surface a particularly deep Listed race in my mind also.

The one thing against him, beside stamina and fitness questions, is the draw. He may not be ideally drawn on the outside. But Magic J is as good as I believe he could be, he’ll overcome it no bother.

Selection:
10pts win – Magic J @ 9/2 MB

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 3.30 Bath: Class 2 Handicap, 1 mile

Not sure whether today is the day, but if he’s given a fair chance I can see Sea Fox outrunning a massive price-tag. The 5-year-old has dropped to a wonderful mark and will act on fast ground as well as stays a mile.

His mark has fallen, and he such a massive long-shot today, because recent performances weren’t up to scratch – on paper at least. One shouldn’t forget he won three times last year of marks of 85 and 89 twice. So, now down to 84, given he also ran to TS ratings of 84 and 86 in the past, suggests he can be weighted to go close.

I rate some of his more recent AW performances higher than credit seems to be given. Even though he finished last and seemed a bit lackluster when last seen at Lingfield, on the clock he finished as good as anyone in the race, and in none of his last five runs was he beaten by more than 3¼.

It’s a long-shot, yes, but if Sea Fix can find back some sort of form, now back on turf, off a handy mark, he’ll be a danger to everyone in this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Sea Fox @ 55/1 MB/PP/Sky

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3.40 Lingfield: 3 Year Old AW Championships, 6f

First time blinkered and the aid of a perfect draw, this test looks tailor made for Quiet Endeavour, who was running well lately, even though the form book doesn’t quite tell the story how well.

The gelding won four on the track last season and was quite precocious, so there is always a question how that translates into a 3yo season. A disappointing seasonal reappearance aside, his last two runs were excellent.

He attempted to make all on both occasions, but found 7f at Lingfield clearly too far as, while leading the field to the final furlong marker, he ran completely out of gas. He went to France for the Montenica Stakes over 6.5f.

Quiet Endeavour was hurried up early on in order to overcome a wide draw and before the first turn he got the lead. He travelled well, but again, was passed in the final furlong running empty.

The drop to sharp 6f at a speedy track as Lingfield is, will surely help. The blinkers should keep him focused in the closing stages hopefully.

Selection:
10pts win – Quiet Endeavour @ 12/1 Coral

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4.15 Lingfield: AW Middle Distance Champs, 1m 2f 

Taking on the 1/3 favourite doesn’t seem wise but I do it nonetheless. It’s an easy decision as I feel there isn’t as much between Wissahickon and second favourite Matterhorn.

True, Wissahickon couldn’t have been more impressive on the AW this year, matching, at least visually, the impressive Cambridgeshire performance at the end of last season. A 10-8-1 record speaks for itself, anyway.

Matterhorn was nearly equally impressive, posting a 9-6-2 record and five of his last six starts. Excuses can be made for a recent below par effort at Kempton, when he got locked up in a battle for the lead and made way too much too early.

The comparision on the numbers between Matterhorn and Wissahickon is interesting. The later ones best TS rating is 94, with a top RPR of 119 (on the AW), whereas Matterhorn posted a top TS rating of 100 and RPR of 118. Sure, the numbers have to be seen in the right context and there is always the question how relevant career best performances are for the “now”.

However, both horses are still rather low mileage, hence could also improve. Matterhorn, though, had one career run less and also was a late April foal (Wissahickon (February).

That all may not make any difference, but it’s reason enough for me to conclude that the horse I fancy should be shorter in the betting and the short odds-on favourite a little bit bigger than he is right now.

Selection:
10pts win – Matterhorn @ 7/1 MB

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4.55 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Landing Night may not have won since having a wind surgery in autumn, but he ran consistently well in more than a handful of starts – in fact he was beaten at most by 3¼ lengths in his last seven starts.

Despite some excellent efforts in defeat, Landing Night  has fallen to a mark of 72, which is 5lb below his last AW winning mark. He also ran to a TS rating of 74, a second highest (career high 79) in November – so not too long ago, suggesting he’s well capable of running to- if not a bit better of his current rating.

The now 7-year-old isn’t getting any younger, and he isn’t a frequent winner anyway, so everything needs to fall right. If he can to the form he showed in early winter, though, he’s supremely well handicapped today.

Selection:
10pts win – Landing Night @ 9/1 PP

Thursday Selections: January, 31st 2019

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A 50/1 second yesterday, yet what does it matter – at the moment they simply don’t get their head in front. What a rotten run. Tough start to the year, now the final day of the month, what started out as a fine January, has turned into a nightmare. But then, it’s the game of patience and cool heads….

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4.05 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4.5f 

Lopes Dancer dropping down to his preferred trip as well as down in to class 5 should see him having a tremendous chance getting back to the winning ways. He was a CD winner of a mark of 75 in higher grade in the past, so down to a 72 rating now offers an opportunity.

Key piece of form in mind is his December runner-up effort over course and distance in higher grade. An excellent performance up with a fast pace, he fend off everyone, bar the late charging Loud And Clear, who went on to win another race subsequently.

Lopes Dancer did that of 71, so given on most other days he is the winner of that race, the one additional pound today doesn’t make a difference as this is also an easier race.

Selection:
10pts win – Lopes Dancer @ 9/2 MB

Tuesday Selections: January, 22nd 2019

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7.15 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

The British Lion won off 5lb higher over course and distance twelve months ago – that form looks strong and has been franked. He never went quite close ever since, though ran a few fair races in better grade and off higher handicap ratings.

The 4-year-old gelding has dropped significantly in his mark, despite two okayish efforts in his last two starts, which came after a break.

He Johnston yard is in fine order right now and The British Lion has another engagement next week Monday – so here are more than a few hints that a big performance can be expected today.

Selection:
10pts win – The British Lion @ 13/2 MB

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7.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6 furlongs

The drift in the betting is a worry but I feel there is a strong case to be made for Bobby Joe Leg here.

First time blinkered, dropping down to class 6 for the first time, a 1lb below his last winning mark, even though he also was successful off 4lb higher, a CD scorer who has TS and RPR ratings that give him a top chance if he’s anywhere near that today.

The jockey booking isn’t inspiring, which is a concern – but James Sullivan only comes here for this one ride – let’s hope he make it count.

Bobby Joe Leg usually goes from the front. This looks to be a fast race. He stays a bit further as a strong 7f effort here at Newcastle last year proved. He may the answer to a tricky race.

Selection:
10pts win – Bobby Joe Leg @ 18/1 PP

Tuesday Selections: January, 8th 2019

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4.10 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile 

Last week’s impressive winner Paparazzi returns here turned out under a penalty. In an even weaker race, and with the memories of his impressive success still fresh in mind, one can clearly see why he is favourite to go back-to-back.

He may well do so as the 6lb penalty looks a lenient “punishment” for his impressive win, albeit only temporarily once the handicapper had the chance to assess. But this is a much bigger field, the pace not be as fast, and both may not suit his running style.

So at given prices I leave him alone and rather focus on potentially well handicapped Traveller. This gelding has dropped to a tasty mark now as well, though ideally he would be drawn not as wide as he is.

Regardless, Traveller ran a series of fairly decent races, starting with a 3rd place finish off 65 over CD in November ending with his most recent effort in early December, another 3rd place over CD.

All three performances, even the low looking 8th place finish at Wolverhampton, were to some extend quite eye-catching as you could give him credit for the fact he wasn’t always in the best position or those horses finishing in front of him got a near perfect run through.

I don’t want to make too many excuses for horses, but these low grade individuals often need nearly everything going right for themselves in order to find back to the winning ways – as we saw with Paparazzi last week who got the perfect race.

Traveller was able to ran to a career highest TS rating of 62 (AW)- and also achieved a 70+ RPR (on AW) on five occasions in the past. He clearly is capable of being a bit better than his current handicap rating; recent performances suggest he is close to his best and close to get his head in front again.

During the 18/19 season the jockey & trainer combo of Hardie & Brittain has produced a positive ROI and a 50% place rate. Hardie rode this lad in his last starts already, which is another positive to see him keeping the ride.

Selection:
10pts win – Traveller @ 8/1 PP

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7.15 Newcastle: Class 5 , 5 furlongs

Quite a tight contest with most in it to win it but hardly anyone appears to be well handicapped. That makes the chance of Miracle Works an interesting one, dropping to the minimum trip for the first time while also dropping to a career lowest handicap mark.

Still a maiden, this big grey gelding has strong form to match anyone in this field to his name thanks to his handicap debut from July last year that came in a hot class 5 handicap over 6f. He went close to win that race – form that has worked out rather well.

Softish conditions on turf weren’t to his liking subsequently; after a break he returned at Kempton over 7f last months but clearly wasn’t in it to win it.

This is only his third handicap start, a drop to 5f may suit and of a 70 mark he looks one of the few here potentially capable of bettering that in the right circumstances.

Miracle Works has an engagement three days later over 6f. If the minimum trip proves to sharp, which it might – though sire stats are encouraging – he’ll certainly be of a lot of interest then once again.

Selection:
10pts win – Miracle Works @ 12/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January, 2nd 2019

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5.45 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

A wide open contest but I feel Paparazzi ticks a lot of boxes today. He is second up after a break. It was a decent reappearance over course and distance a fortnight ago, given he was not in positioned well enough to challenge in a race where they absolutely crawled for five furlongs.

The four-year-old drops to a tasty mark, having won off higher in Ireland in the past, but also having performed with plenty of credit in many more starts on both All-Weather and turf of higher marks. He was placed off 69 and 66 in early 2018 at Kempton over a mile.

This is the poorest opposition Paparazzi will encounter for quite some time. If a slow start doesn’t see him falling back too far too early he should run a huge race today.

Selection:
10pts win – Paparazzi @ 12/1 MB

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6.15 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Bottom weight and long-shot Admiral Rooke looks a hopeless sort judged by his 0-18 record. However, taking into account he’s been in the money seven times coming close to finally getting over the line, and the situation appears slightly different.

Whether today is the day, remains to be seen. He has an engagement next Monday over 9.5f also. Today, a simple straight 7f at Newcastle could be a perfect test, though.

Admiral Rooke is second up after a break, ran okayish in a lightning fast Southwell Handicap on his fibresand debut. He drops to a career lowest mark of 61 now. Given, at least on turf, he was placed over 7f off 67, running to a TS 64 rating, suggest he can be better than that.

His dam was an All-Weather winner. So I wouldn’t be too quick to discount his chances here judged on a fibresand and maiden race. At given prices this is well worth a shout for a yard in red hot form.

Selection:
10pts win – Admiral Rooke @ 20/1 MB

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6.45 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Despite a seemingly disappointing effort as beaten favourite last time here at Newcastle, Athollblair Boy looks ripe for another victory. Already a 3-times course winner, with a 6-2-2 CD record, he had a fruitful winter campaign last season here and subsequently ran more often than not decent enough on turf through the flat season as well.

On his return after a 126-day-long break over CD in November, he ran perfectly well in a hot class 3 Handicap, that has worked out quite well in the meantime, despite missing the break and losing ground at the start.

The next time, the aforementioned beaten favourite effort, Athollblair Boy pulled incredibly hard for half the race, and had a race already ran when it really mattered. Sections show he ran well enough, nonetheless.

A drop down to a 73 mark now, with a fair 7lb claimer on board who’ll have learned plenty from the last two rides where he also steered Athollblair Boy, given the gelding is CD winner of a 3lb higher mark, this should be a fine chance to add another success to the list today.

Selections:
10pts win – Athollblair Boy @ 17/2 MB

Fighting Fifth Hurdle Preview

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2.05 Newcastle: Fighting Fifth Hurdle, 2m½f

Feels odds throwing my hat into the ring at a race at Newcastle that isn’t run on the sand…. as much as I love watching the spectacle that is jump racing, betting wise it’s no good to me – at least on a day to day basis.

Today isn’t an ordinary day, though. It’s the Fighting Fifth, the first huge Grade 1 of the season that gets the pulls raising. All the hot Champion Hurdle contenders are here – an early-season clash that’ll give us an indication if Samcro can justify the hype, after two runs that saw him a faller and then a beaten odds-on favourite.

I think, on that evidence, given the short price today again, I’m certainly inclined to take him on. Sure, the 6-year-old will come on for his recent run, but somehow that performance lacked the usual zest you would associate with Samcro, and looked more concerning to my eyes than simply being a pleasing pipe opener yielding in plenty of improvement. We shall see….

There is no doubt Buveur D’air is the one they all have to beat. He’s the defending champion in both the Champion- and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. He’s the one who ran to the highest time speed rating of all of these, by a country mile.

Granted, this is an important early-season target, I bet Buveur D’air will not be fully wound up today. A Champion Hurdle hat-trick is the main objective. March is a long way from here.

I’ also intrigued by the “routine wind op” he has undergone during the summer. Is there really such thing as a “routine operation”? Possibly. I don’t know enough about it. Nonetheless, it puts enough doubts in my mind, compared with the bigger fish to fry for Buveur D’air later the season, to oppose him at short odds.

The obvious alternative is Summerville Boy. The reigning Supreme champ, also on his seasonal debut, obviously – with his own question marks. Around trip – too sharp? Ground – not soft enough? Talent – good enough?

He was an impressive winner at the Festival for obvious reasons, but the fact he seems to have issues with concentration, in a race that’ll likely be about speed and accurate jumping, whereas he strikes me more like a grinder, is a big question mark. Will he be ready for today? I bet so! If you want to gauge how Summerville Boy measures up against the top guns you got to be ready for the fight today.

Connections are pretty bullish. On the evidence on form and ratings he has plenty to find to Buveur D’air, but not a lot to Samcro – in fact his all-time best TS is a pound better than Samcro’s. Whether that’s of significance, is up for debate. Certainly, on evidence, the six-year-old has plenty scope for improvement, if he gets his act together in the later stages of the race.

Given my doubts about pretty much any of the main principles in the race, and not having a lot of confidence in the other two in the field, at given prices Summerville Boy looks a superb bet.

I feel this race is more important for him than for the favourite. I believe, at this stage, he’s likely as good as Samcro. There are plenty of positives vibes around him as well – so I allow myself a crack at this hugely exciting renewal of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle!

Selection:
10pts win – Summerville Boy @ 6/1 MB

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5.15 Wolverhampton: Novice Stakes, 5f

Vee Man Ten looks a decent colt after showing promise in two starts on turf earlier this year. He looked like winning on debut at Beverly but was squeezed out eventually to finish third while only ridden hands and heels – this form looks strong judged through the winner in particular, but also the runner-up.

He blasted out of the gates at Haydock less than two weeks later, setting a brutal pace that wasn’t sustainable, particularly over 6 furlongs. However, the early speed he showed was impressive.

Now the bit wiser, first time on the All-Weather and dropping to 5f, it could be third time lucky. On pedigree this should suit, his sire has a fine record on the sand over the minimum trip, particularly with juveniles.

Vee Man Ten has a hood fitted for the first time, which may not be a disadvantage, a good draw and jockey KT O’Neill making his way here for this one ride only – strong chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Vee Man Ten @ 4/1 Sky