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Newcastle welcomes racing back – and Frankly Darling sparkles to earn Classic quotes

Mon 1 Jun 2020

Frankly Darling ranges between 10-1 and 20-1 for the Investec Oaks after making a winning return at Newcastle on Monday.

John Gosden’s filly was the star of the show as racing resumed at Gosforth Park and she was sent off the 10-11 favourite for the first division of the Betway Maiden.

Partnered by Robert Havlin, the daughter of Frankel assumed the lead inside the distance in the 10-furlong heat and went on to cruise home by five lengths from Thibaan.

 Frankly Darling powers clear to enter the Oaks picture(PA)
Frankly Darling powers clear to enter the Oaks picture(PA)

Havlin said: “She’s still pretty green. Stuck three wide I was going to drop in, but the one on my inside was struggling a bit so I decided to keep it nice and smooth for her.

“Turning in I was fairly confident, she’d organised herself by then. I always felt she was going to put the race to bed.

“She saw the mile and a quarter out well, she’s by no means a slow filly, but I think she can see the mile and a half out no problem. She’s filling into her frame nicely and she’s going the right way.”

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Zodiakos wrote his name into the record books with victory in the opening Betway Welcome Back British Racing Handicap.

At the head of affairs right from the off, the Roger Fell-trained gelding bowled along in the mile contest under his jockey James Sullivan and repelled his better-fancied stablemate Al Ozzdi to emerge a neck victor at odds of 22-1.

Sullivan said: “It’s very nice to get the first winner. I’m blowing a bit as obviously it’s the first time I’ve ridden in a race for a while and it was hard work from three and a half furlongs out, but in fairness to Roger he had him very fit, he was spot on for today.”

Like Frankly Darling, Art Power could have some big races on his agenda after he defied a penalty in fine style in division two of the Betway Novice Stakes.

Tim Easterby’s grey bounced out of the stalls for Silvestre de Sousa and the 5-4 favourite never saw another rival, justifying connections’ faith having given him a Commonwealth Cup entry at Royal Ascot.

“He’s a nice horse and Tim thinks a lot of him. He’s got some classy entries, but he had to prove he could do it,” said De Sousa.

“He had a big weight today. Mentally he’s not there yet, he’s still a big baby, going into the gate he didn’t know who he was and on pulling up he was waiting for the others. There’s a lot of improvement in him.

“He’s a fast horse, and coming back to five (furlongs) would be no problem.”

 Jockeys get ready to ride at Newcastle after a 76-day absence (Focusonracing)
Jockeys get ready to ride at Newcastle after a 76-day absence (Focusonracing)

Betfair introduced Art Power into the betting for the Commonwealth Cup at 25-1.

Oisin Murphy recorded his first winner of the campaign as the champion jockey got Sir Michael Stoute’s 5-2 joint-favourite Alignak up to land the Betway Handicap from fellow market leader Good Tidings.

There was a sad postscript to the race though, as the Phil Kirby-trained December Second suffered a fatal injury as one of two fallers in the straight.

A British Horseracing Authority spokesperson said: “We are all deeply saddened about the loss of December Second this afternoon.

“No one will be more affected by this than the trainer Phil Kirby, the owners and the stable staff who provided the horse with first class care throughout his life.

“Equine welfare has been an important consideration in our planning to return – for example there have been limits placed on field sizes as part of the sport’s resumption of racing strategy.

“Racehorses have been able to continue to train and exercise during the lockdown and have been able to maintain their normal level of fitness, looked after by dedicated staff.

“Their safety has been an important consideration in our planning for return but it is impossible to remove risk altogether.”

Both PJ McDonald, who rode December Second, and Jim Crowley, who was aboard Financial Conduct, escaped serious injury.

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