Race Time: 2.35pm Meeting: Newcastle Distance: 6f
Full Race Name: Betfred “Six Best Odds Races Daily” Handicap Class Two
First things first and with the draw now available we have to rebalance our final decision with a well known bias for a high draw over this six furlong trip. On form, we still have to start with Bushcraft (5/1) (drawn seven), who is trained by Ed Walker, who in turn deserves an awful lot of credit for the way he has handled the now four year old. After a better than average start as a two year old, he was presumably injured and missed the whole of the 2014 season, but connections patience has been rewarded with two distance wins at Windsor this season, and every reason to think he can follow up this afternoon. His racing style means he comes fast and late in his races and only ever wins by the narrowest of margins, so hold on to your seat if you plan to back him! The good thing about that style is the slow crawl up the handicap weights as he rarely if ever impresses, and off a mark of 93, just five pounds higher today, he may yet have enough in reserve to get involved granted a clear run though a high draw would have been better, of course.
Tanzeel (7/1) catches the eye as an alternative for Charlie Hills and is clearly a well above average tool, when they can get him right that is. Five races in two years suggest he may be a little fragile, but his record of two wins and two seconds from those races stands up to scrutiny, though I suspect a narrower win at Yarmouth last time out would have seen a more favourable handicap mark! He did bolt home that day (last July) carrying nine stone eleven so the weight he has here will not bother him physically, and as the runner up has won twice since, while the third has also scored, the form may be above average after all, but a one stall draw simply has to be seen as a negative historically. Meshardal (11/1) is another sprinter at the top of his game, and seems to be enjoying a new lease of life at the age of five with an amazing four wins already this season. Ruth Carr deserves a lot of credit for the way she has campaigned this son of Shamardal with that much success but winning this would, to be fair, crown all previous achievements. Despite going up in the weights he won pretty comfortably at Catterick last time out and may still have more to offer here, though a total weight rise of 36 pounds this season has to bring his winning runs to an end sometime soon.
Likeable trainer Roger Charlton is having a decent enough season and he sends the consistent Major Jack (10/1) here and he does have the prefect draw in the sixteen stall. Five pounds better off with Bushcraft for two and a half lengths on Windsor form he may well have the narrowest of advantages today depending on how much weight you give to the draw of course, and is certainly one for some serious consideration here, each ay or otherwise. Lastly, trainer Brian Ellison can do little wrong of late and is working very well with Silvestre De Sousa of late (24% strike rate in the past 5 years), and they send Almuheet (25/1) here who is drawn fifteen. His last two runs over seven furlongs at Musselburgh and York have been disappointing (ninth of nine and ninth of eleven), but maybe a fast run six here will play a bit more to his strengths – not one for us at this stage but one we can see others backing and perhaps understandably so.