You will be seeing my ugly mug and reading my thoughts on Sunday’s racing from now on, but we were lucky enough to sign off on Monday duty with an 8-1 winner and I am hoping we can bag another winner or two now I have got hold of some weekend action.
Newcastle is therefore one of three meetings on my radar, and a study of the card underlines why I rarely seem to have any bets at the track.
Obviously, the course has thrown up some star names in the recent past, and there are a couple of likely newcomers from top stables in the 1m2f novice stakes, but the handicaps are not particularly enticing.
I did find one bet there, though, and Mametz Wood (named after the scene of an engagement in the Battle Of The Somme) in the 2.30pm was nearly another, though the longer trip put me off in the end analysis.
Luckily, the Plumpton card has attracted some big fields and some very classy operators – none more so than in a superb novices’ chase at 1.10pm, which must be the best race that the course has staged for many a year – while, obviously, we also have the excellent Grade One card at Naas to pore over.
The market for the Grade One Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle is dominated by Battleoverdoyen and Tornado Flyer, and it is 8-1 bar those two, but it doesn’t look like a simple match to me on paper.
However, if truth be told, I am going to need a bit more time to get my punting eye in on the Irish front, so there are current drawbacks there, and I will stay relatively local this week (though Naas is probably nearer than Newcastle as the crow flies).
Anyway, lets crack on with the bets. I only managed to eke out three to small stakes, but it is never wise to force a bet for the sake of it. I am sure there are punchier Sundays ahead.
It’s Got Legs was a little disappointing when punted in an Ascot handicap last time, but I am going to give him another chance here back in novice company and down in distance.
His run petered out up the straight there over an extended 2m7f and, while I am not saying he didn’t stay, he was a good third over 3m at Kempton previously.
I reckon he will be seen to better effect with Jamie Moore adopting forcing tactics over this shorter trip.
He ran well here over 2m last season, and I reckon he could give his sexier, less exposed rivals – chief among them Third Wind, Commanche Red and Phoenix Way – a race here.
In fact, at the prices, I am more than willing to back him each-way, so lets hope the Gary Moore yard can carry their excellent form on from Saturday.
5-1 or bigger is the cut-off point.
He is perhaps better known as more of a Wolverhampton and Southwell all-weather specialist, but he is a versatile sort – his most recent two wins came on turf in the summer – and the last time he ran at Newcastle he was only beaten a length over course and distance in a 0-75 last January.
He ran his best race for some time when fourth at Southwell last time, but he still got dropped for it, and he has now come down 11lb since the autumn to a mark of 69.
As a nine-year-old, he certainly doesn’t have the potential of an Isle Of Avalon, but the selection looks a pretty solid proposition in this 0-70 after that better run last time. He likes to go forward when on song, and hopefully he can see off potential pace rivals Tor and Champarisi early doors and decide his own fate from the front.
The 22-1 with bet365 looks well worth chancing; I can’t see him being much bigger once the rest of the firms wake up.
He unseated at the first at Exeter on New Year’s Day, so this Sussex National is no long-term plan, and trainer Neil King is also having a bit of a quiet spell.
However, Big Meadow has dropped to the same mark as when winning by six lengths at Uttoxeter at this time last year.
I appreciate that he would prefer softer ground, but he does have one fair run on good in his locker, and he is taken to run a lot better than when a modest eighth in this race last season, when his trainer seemed to be of the opinion that he didn’t get home in the heavy ground.
So perhaps the less testing surface could be in his favour here. His jumping can obviously let him down but, granted a clear round, he should go close in a race that won’t take too much winning for such a nice pot.
The 15-2 is very fair.