All-Weather action at Newcastle is scheduled to start at 5.15pm on Friday, the first of eight races on the Northern card. In the few paragraphs to come we’ll attempt to unearth a few horses of punting interest — call it a Friday night amuse bouche in view the weekend racing main courses…
Firstly, I must give one mention to a horse from last week’s BetBright column: Headman. The Kingman colt. It is always difficult to get a grip on what a horse might be before you’ve even seen it, but he did stand out in the market as a bit of a hot cake debutant, and boy did he impress where it matter. Headman is an absolute unit of a horse, with an impressive, but leisurely and lengthy stride which allows him to look like he’s doing things very easily. He was miles (well, many many lengths) better than both of the other mile races on the card, producing a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 93 and a Topspeed figure of 78, without really being tested or ask much of a significant question. What this tells us is that Roger Charlton’s 2yo is most definitely a Group class horse, most likely one that will be contesting Group 1s as a 3yo, a normal rate of general progression permitting.
Keep a close eye on Headman in 2019. Newmarket, Royal Ascot…all that stuff.
Now, onto Friday…
In the Newcastle opener at 5.15pm, ALFRED RICHARDSON will take a bit of stopping after winning very easily over the track and trip in mid-October. He’s up a hefty 8lb for that, but he ran to a high RPR and posted a very solid speed figure to back it up. In a race lacking much by way of recent winning form, the 4yo does rather stand out. Later on, a 0-80 Fillies’ Handicap over 6f can go the way of ISLAND OF LIFE for William Haggas and jockey Daniel Tudhope. This Dubawi filly has had a busy year and comes here on her second start after a wind op, up in distance this time and looking very interesting as such, on the best of her string of useful recent form over the minimum trip. There’s certainly plenty of reason to think her handicap rating of 82 remains exploitable and I think she’s primed to go very close here.
Tim Easterby’s Twilight is a clear form threat on turf form, but is fairly exposed on the A/W in recent efforts. Playmate is open to improvement, while Island Cloud could appreciate the step back to 6f from 7f. But Island Of life should run a big race.
Division II of the Class 6, 1m Handicap at 7.45pm is an interesting puzzle. Silk Mill Blue catches the eye only 1lb up from a game success over the course and distance last time out. Once again we have a race where recent winning form is at a premium, so Richard Whitaker’s charge does rather jump off the page. However, nothing about the horse suggests he is far ahead of the handicapper. Micky Hammond’s 3yo Kavora has a good chance if staying the trip, having shaped well over 7f here last time. But I’m a man who appreciates a horse with the proven ability to stay, often preferably with form over further. So the really intriguing runner here for me is THE HIGHWAYMAN, who has been trying a variety of trips of late and ran well for a long way over 1m4f last time out here. He does have fair form over a mile, but should be really suited to a stamina demanding eight furlongs at this stiff course. David Thompson’s 5yo charge is nicely treated on his rating of 52 and should run very well here.
The fourth and final fancy at Newcastle on Friday evening runs in the lucky last at 8.45pm, a Class 5 Handicap over 6f. The aforementioned trained Richard Whitaker has another runner here, called ROUND THE ISLAND and this experienced 5yo has been running well all season. His RPR & TS figures from the Racing Post stand out here and he also comes out a clear-cut top on the stats based ratings I use (RTRs). He remains on a handicap mark of 70, after running well above expectations at Wolverhampton the last day and looks finely poised to produce another very solid effort here.
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Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.