Angus McNae's top tips for Thursday: Make the most of First Contact

By Angus McNae
Wed 17 Apr 2019

Making the running or being close to the pace has been important this week at Newmarket’s bet365 Craven Meeting.

We should not be surprised, though, as this has been the way at Headquarters for many years. This is a track that gets labelled as a stiff course because of the uphill run out of the dip.

This analysis conveniently ignores the relatively easy nature of the track.

This is not a criticism, rather an observation and any analysis of how any track plays needs to be intertwined with pace analysis. However, I believe that being on the pace here is invariably an advantage.

Four selections this week, as usual, starting with:

1.50 Newmarket: Franz Kafka

Has the benefit of a recent run and he can make his fitness edge tell. He is a son of Dubawi and, as has been well documented, they just get better and better with racing.

He was not able to show his true potential at Doncaster recently, where he did not get the smoothest of passages, but he was beaten only half a length by the useful Fox Champion. He will have come on for that run and can take this on the way to better things.

3.00 Newmarket: Almashriq

Was most impressive when winning on his debut at Newcastle and there is a lot more improvement to come.

He travelled strongly and despite looking green when first coming off the bridle he found plenty of acceleration when asked and he clearly won with plenty in hand.

The fact that he went off as the 8-11 favourite on his debut speaks quite highly of the regard he is held in and he can take another step forward here.

3.15 Cheltenham: Sunshade

This mare has only had one run this season after a wind operation and is open to a lot of improvement.

Her comeback run at Newbury was full of promise, when fifth to Zanza. She travelled well and was not knocked about in the closing stages.

She will come on a lot for that and her trainer, Nicky Henderson, likes this race, having won it three times since 2011. She looks sure to run well here in what is a competitive contest.

4.10 Newmarket: First Contact

I think this track could really suit First Contact. He is racefit, having had three runs at Meydan, and is a front-runner, which as detailed above is a real asset at this track.

His final run at Meydan, when third to Dream Castle in the Group One Jebel Hatta, was a tremendous effort and with the early pace to lead here he could be hard to peg back.

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