With racing in Britain having been absent since the week after the Cheltenham Festival, Monday’s meeting at Newcastle might well be the most anticipated all-weather fixture of all time, with the greatest of respect to Lingfield’s increasingly popular Good Friday card.
Things will be different to begin with, and not just in the socially-distanced parade ring and empty stands. Fields have been limited to 12 runners and cards have been expanded, in Newcastle’s case to ten races.
It is widely anticipated that these early races will be fiercely competitive. It is harder to justify using a run to get a horse cherry-ripe when runs are likely to be so hard to come by. Here are three horses we suggest to look out for on the day British racing returns.
14:10 Newcastle: Blazing Hot
Four of the ten races are given over to novice/maiden runners, although the two-year-olds will need to wait for Kempton on Tuesday for their first chance to shine.
These three-year-olds have some fairly useful form behind them. Eltijaab, Little Red Socks and Bond’s Boy are already winners and the latter was also third in a big sales race.
The market, which with 72-hour declarations has had plenty of time to form, has placed a couple of debutants at the head. Freedom Flyer, at
9/4*, represents powerful connections but most popular of all, has been
4/1 shot Blazing Hot.
Trained by James Tate, whose star is rising and also boasts a good record when sending horses to Newastle, Blazing Hot’s value leapt when he got to the breeze-ups last year. Perhaps it is no surprise, as his sire Hot Streak had loads of pace and the ultimate evidence from his first crop is that he has imparted that attribute.
Tate has made no secret of his admiration for this horse and he tends to know what he has. A sound draw, in stall 9, gives Blazing Hot every chance of making the perfect start to his career.
15:55 Newcastle: Written Broadcast
The 15:55 is a 0-75 over the same 6f trip. It is restricted to three-year-olds and Written Broadcast – priced at
9/2 at the time of writing – is among the most interesting of them. He showed good form last year for Richard Hannon and has since joined the underrated Jedd O’Keeffe and been gelded.
The tail-end of Written Broadcast’s campaign was relatively muted. It is reasonably easy to blame the 7f trip for those. He is by Gutaifan, a sharp two-year-old who made a sound start with his first crop last year.
Back at the sprint trips that should suit him best, Written Broadcast can make the most of a drop in grade for his new yard.
17:05 Newcastle: Ice Pyramid
Phil Kirby is another shrewd trainer based in the North and he was showing just why with Ice Pyramid (
3/1) prior to shutdown.
He got hold of this Godolphin cast-off after his debut and, in three handicap runs, he has twice won by five lengths and in the middle finished second, eight lengths clear of the rest.
Progressive is hardly the word and Ice Pyramid has gone up 17lb. He is not as ring-rusty as many of his rivals and may still have more to come after just three runs in handicaps. This dual course and distance winner sets a high standard.
*All odds correct at time of publication