The jumps is certainly on the forefront of most people’s minds this week and rightly so in many and most ways! But there’s plenty of excellent UK action on the sand all winter, providing a sturdy backbone to the racing package throughout the year. On Thursday, flat racing gets going at 1.20pm from Newcastle and continues right through until the last from Wolverhampton at 9pm.
Mark Johnston’s VICTORIA DRUMMOND is a progressive filly on the A/W, having won her last two starts at Chelmsford and Southwell and she is in the driving seat for the opening 1.20pm over 1m4f. Her last three Racing Post Ratings of 63, 83 and 96 show her rate of improvement and a 6lb penalty – effectively taking her BHA mark up to 85 here – is unlikely to stop her provided she handles Newcastle Tapeta surface. I have to give mention to the brave Theglasgowwarrior, who was only beaten a few lengths in the Cesarewitch last time out and does have decent form over this trip. He’s an admirable horse, but might find this a bit sharp a test, though he will keep them all honest.
At 2.55pm the powerhouse stables of Godolphin and John Gosden are suitably represented for an interesting 10f Novice Stakes. Mark Johnston has a couple here too, but Gosden’s RED CENTRE shaped with definite promise over 8f on good to soft ground at Haydock back in September and can win at the second time of asking under Nicky Mackay. An RPR of 76 backed up by a solid Topspeed figure of 72, along with a step up in trip for the Australia colt, should see the 2yo get home in front sporting the colours of Princess Haya.
I do enjoy the backend 2yo Novice races at this time of year, as you do get plenty of late maturing juveniles running that will be worth keeping an eye on as 3yos. Newcastle’s afternoon card concludes with another such race over 5f. Those with form do not set a high benchmark at all, which means a newcomer wouldn’t need to be Pegasus to score; which is why the Roger Varian trained BACKSTREET GIRL rather hops off the page. A daughter of Shamardal, her dam was was a Group 3 winner over the trip in France and the Clipper Logistics owned runner is certainly bred for the job.
Keeping up with the 2yo theme, Wolverhampton’s evening card kicks off at 5.30pm with a low grade nursery handicap over 1m1f. The David Evans trained Peter’s Pudding has sound claims on his 2nd over 7f last time out here, but it is a fair up step up in trip for the son of Fast Company. Richard Fahey’s Fantastic Ms Fox was 3rd over this course and trip last time out, but there’s nothing special special about the form and she too looks somewhat vulnerable, for all it is a poor heat. I’ll take a chance on the Charlie Fellowes trained WALTZING BELLE, who has been establishing some consistency on bare form ratings of late and being out of a Selkirk mare, this step up in trip might just bring about the improvement required to win off her lowly mark of 56.
The other 2yo races on the card are tough, in fact it is a tricky card for sure, but we’ll give air a few handicappers to note nonetheless. In the 7.00pm over 6f, watch out for recent course and distance winner WALK ON WATER for trainer Jonathan Portman and top pilot Richard Kingscote. The horse posted an excellent speed figure the last day and looks well positioned to go in again. Division II of the same contest can go the way of MOTAJAASID a half an hour later. The Richard Hughes trained inmate scored very handsomely here toward the back end of October and the step back up to 6f could bring about more improvement. In the 8.00pm over 7f, Saeed bin Suroor’s LAIETH is the clear rising force in a field of exposed runners, while the 8.30pm looks at the mercy of TONI’S A STAR, who was unlucky not to score here last time and stands out on that 2nd place effort for Tony Carroll.
In the lucky (or not so) last at 9.00pm, end which concludes a bumper day of A/W action, we have a tricky two mile Apprentice Handicap. I tend not to do well on the flat when it comes to 1m6f+ handicaps, but Mark Johnston’s THE LAST DEBUTANTE does look the obvious choice to complete the double under a penalty, having dotted up by 11 lengths at Southwell just over a week ago.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.
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