Dave Nevison's top tips for Thursday: Arbalet to strike on first start for O'Meara

By Dave Nevison@nevisondave
Thu 4 Jun 2020

I think it is a really great idea to have lots of two-year-old races on the same card giving owners, trainers and punters a chance to get a decent comparison of the talent.

However, it means Thursday afternoon is a very quiet one for me puntingwise, especially as the handicaps at the back of the card are devilishly difficult.

2.45 Newcastle: Zodiakos at 7-2 with Paddy Power

Roger Fell’s horses have all run really well on their first starts since the resumption of British racing. In the post-race interview after this seven-year-old scored in the opening event at Newcastle on Monday, Fell pointed out that he was based in a remote area and that most his staff lived at his yard, so virtually nothing had changed from the normal routine.

Zodiakos is clearly fit and well and will not have to do anything different to what he did on Monday to win here and can make all towards the stands' side this time.

5.40 Newcastle: Nataleena at a general 5-2

I will be watching the Ben Haslam stable closely this year as things seemed to take a strong upturn in 2019 and it will be interesting to see if that continues this season.

Nataleena was a solid contributor last season and won twice over course and distance, including a victory at 0-75 level. She is back in a 0-65 grade here against several rivals who have struggled for form.

Her latest two defeats came in races where there was a distinct lack of pace and she could well have won both but for that. Pace is a worry here also, but if Andrew Mullen is alive to that, he will hopefully take decisive action.

5.55 Newmarket; Arbalet at a general 9-2

I was definitely too loyal with this horse last season when it was clear he wasn’t producing his best form for Hugo Palmer, but he would not be the first recruit David O’Meara has rejuvenated (Gulliver, for the same owners, and from the same stable, being a case in point).

Arbalet finished second off 104 in a hot Ascot handicap in 2018 and ran a few good races after that.

However, he has now dropped a stone in the weights since Ascot and is running in a 0-95 handicap for the first time in his career.

His last two runs for Palmer were not too bad, so he could have been poised to score anyway, though it may be a concern that headgear is left off.

As with so many bets in this strangest of seasons, we have to go on hunches, but a positive market move would offer further encouragement.

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