2.10pm Newcastle Tips & Betting Preview 02/03/2017

This is an interesting Class 4, 7 furlong handicap at Newcastle, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: This is an interesting handicap and a few of these have questions to answer but it may pay to stick with the in-form FREE CODE who continues to thrive off a lower mark. He ran very well on his last start against much tougher opposition than this and although he is worse off at the weights with a few of these, is a far price to confirm the form off this mark. Merdon Castle could pose the most danger off a very low mark but he still needs to prove this is his ideal trip whilst Dutch Art Dealer has serious questions to answer on the back of his last run.

1 DUTCH ART DEALER – Made an excellent return when winning a C&D handicap in a first time visor following a 7 month break having been picked up for £3,000 from Paul Cole’s yard. However, he ran a horror race at Kempton on his last start in a Class 3 handicap where there was plenty of money around for him which saw him go off the 4/1 favourite. He was slowly away and could never get into the race and he was eventually beaten 22 lengths. He loses the 7lb claim of Lewis Edmunds although Silvestre De Sousa takes over (24% strike rate here) and he has a lot to prove now eased back down into this grade. He’s difficult to support on the back of his last run and will need to do much, much better off a small break.

2 SAFE VOYAGE – Lightly-raced 4yo for John Quinn who recorded a quick-fire double over C&D in January off a mark of 75. The handicapper notched him up 8lbs for those efforts and that halted his progress given he found life much tougher in a more competitive Class 4 against a few of today’s rivals. He’s 4lbs better off with Free Code but 1lb worse off with War Department following that run as the handicapper has left him unchanged on a mark of 83. He’s been given a few weeks rest and should put in a better performance today although he’s got to prove he’s worthy of his mark and there may be value in opposing him today.

3 WAR DEPARTMENT – Has held his form really well over the winter having raced off anywhere from 9 to 13lbs higher than his last winning mark (70). He’s 5lbs better off at the weights with Free Code here following a 2 length defeat in early February and that should make life slightly easier if he can run to the same level of form again. Whilst not looking particularly well-handicapped, this C&D winner has a leading chance in this if he can continue his good vein of form and should go close again now better off at the weights with David Barron’s runner.

4 FREE CODE – He capitalised on a declining mark when beating some of today’s rivals off a mark of 78 on his second to last run but he was double the price in the betting than War Department and Safe Voyage and may not find this as easy now worse off at the weights. He did follow up that run with a very good 6th in a Class 2 contest and the handicapper has nudged him down a 1lb on the back of it which leaves him on a very workable mark of 82. Phillip Makin returns to the saddle today and he’s the one they’ve all got to beat on the back of his last two runs although he will have to be at his best to confirm running with a couple here.

5 NEWSTEAD ABBEY – Picked up for £6,500 by Michael Herrington at Goffs in November and made his stable debut over a furlong shorter here last time out. It was a poor run but he’s entitled to come on a lot for it and the handicapper has nudged him down 3lbs which is very welcome. He’s got a decent record on the All-Weather (2 wins from 4 starts) although he hasn’t recorded a victory since May 2015 and may just have one or two issues having not shown the same ability following a year off the track. He is capable of popping up here but he looks slightly regressive and may be one for later in the season.

6 SHAMAHEART – Has been dropped 5lbs in the handicap following a terrible run over C&D last time out where he failed to beat a rival home. There is a question mark as to whether Geoffrey Harker’s runner is suited to the All-Weather having placed only once in 8 starts compared to his relatively decent turf form (won or placed 19 times from 48 runs). Although 2lbs lower than his last winning mark, he’s been kept away from the All-Weather as much as possible and connections may just be getting another run into him here before the turf season restarts. He’s best avoided today on the back of that.

7 BOUCLIER – First run for the in-form Michael Appleby (28% strike rate, £14.78 profit last 14 days) today having left Tony Carroll’s yard. He hasn’t won over this trip since December 2013 and most of his successes have come over shorter so today’s trip is of minor concern for a horse usually campaigned over 6 furlongs. He may just need this run but he could pose a threat off a small break and the form of Appleby’s yard is extremely impressive so he’s worth a second look in the betting.

8 EQUALLY FAST – Has a decent record on the All-Weather, recording three victories from 7 seven starts in his career to date. All his victories have come over the minimum distance of 5 furlongs though and connections look to be experimenting here, keeping him at 7 furlongs for only his second start over the trip. He ran as if he didn’t handle the step up in trip last time out when weakening in the finish and it’s difficult to envisage it’ll be a different story here now upped in grade. A mark of 75 looks to be fair having won off higher but this trip is a massive concern and he’s opposed today.

9 MERDON CASTLE – Races off a career-low mark today (73) having not shown the same level of form since his 2yo days where he had placed off 97. He’s raced over this C&D twice this year and ran with credit on both occasions although he couldn’t get close to Free Code when the pair last met. He is 8lbs better off with him today which gives him a chance on paper although he needs to do more to convince that 7 furlongs is his ideal trip. He’s interesting off a very low mark though he needs to rekindle his old form to get the better of a couple of progressive types here.

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