A bumper 10-race card is set to ignite the racing season at Newcastle on Monday and we pick out five horses to note.
“Pivotals do tend to get better with age - and given his physique he is a horse we expect to have done extremely well from three to four.” That was the comment from new owner/syndicate member Martin Dixon, who picked up the horse from Roger Charlton’s yard at the end of last season. Not many improve for leaving Beckhampton but Mick Appleby is an absolute master at finding a niche for a new recruit and dropping back slightly in trip, over the testing (Standard to Slow) Tapeta surface at Newcastle, could prove to be a great move. The horse has had loads of time to fill his frame and Appleby’s record at striking first time, especially for The Horse Watchers, is pretty remarkable.
Simon Crisford has started to make some considerable waves over the past two seasons and he’s now officially joined by his son, Ed, with a joint-licence. They will be keen to get off to a flyer, like everyone else no doubt, this year and the booking of Silvestre De Sousa for Invincible Spirit colt Freedom Flyer could prove highly significant. He has a middle draw and is more than likely to know his job at the first time of asking.
Another debutant not to be missed, having been flagged up most of last season before not quite making it to the track. Owner John Dance is clearly keeping the faith this time around and while considered a really exciting prospect for the medium to long term, Continental is likely to be as tuned up as anything for what is now a fairly eagerly-anticipated racecourse debut. It’s also a ‘local’ runner for Dance and co, let’s not forget.
Newcastle’s all-weather track has been extremely kind to John Gosden since it was laid as he’s had 43 winners from 118 runners and he’s not against sending a proper top-notcher to the north east (Enable stands out among others). Frankly Darling shaped with promise on debut when second in a warm novice event at Yarmouth last back-end and is said to have thrived over the winter (and spring). She could conceivably tee up a crack at something like the Ribblesdale or Investec Oaks, or both, should her comeback go to plan on Monday.
Given the sheer size of his string, Mark Johnston will have been among those most eager to get cracking this year and it looks significant he wastes no time in unleashing Hatheem for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. By New Approach out of a Raven’s Pass mare, he’s bred to be above average and the three-year-old will no doubt have been ticking over, fully fit, for several weeks now. He could be quite exciting.
A bumper 10-race card is set to ignite the racing season at Newcastle on Monday, with the sport "counting down the hours" to its long-awaited resumption.
A total of 317 horses were declared before the balloting process from an initial entry of 369 for the first meeting in Britain since March 17, when racing came to an abrupt halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The British Horseracing Authority has been planning for a resumption on June 1 subject to Government approval - and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of further easing of restrictions on Thursday appeared to boost chances of permission being granted.
The BHA said in a statement on Friday: "We're counting down the hours to the return of racing and looking forward to official confirmation from the UK Government after it has published its guidelines for the resumption of sport in the next day or so. The long break is nearly over.
"This morning, we've been busy processing the declarations received for Newcastle's fixture on June 1 and we are now implementing our new medical screening procedures to ensure we safeguard those who plan to be there on Monday for racing's return."
A maximum of 120 runners are set to line up at Gosforth Park, with all contests limited to 12 starters.
The initial eight races increased to 10, with both the 10-furlong Betway Maiden Stakes and the six-furlong Betway Novice Stakes divided.
The first race is scheduled for 1.00pm, with the last contest due off at 6.15pm.
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