Race Time: 3.10pm Meeting: Newcastle Distance: 7f
Full Race Name: Betfred Membership “Play Your Way” Handicap Class Two
As we have mentioned before seven furlongs is a specialist distance, too far for some of the sprinters and too quick for some of the milers so our starting point should always be distance winners, though if they are course winners as well, all the better. At this time of the season the three year olds are beginning to mature sufficiently to have a chance against their older and more experienced rivals, partly thanks to their weight concessions, making Bond’s Girl (33/1) a possible for Richard Fahey who does so well at these weekend meetings. Her recent form could be best described as unremarkable but that has seen her start to slowly slip down the weights to a mark of 94, which would give her solid chances IF she can get to her best juvenile form – sadly we have seen no evidence of that so far, though if there is a shock she could yet be the one to pull it off with her price possibly too large based on her very best form.
Course and distance winner Shared Equity (10/1) has only had the three runs so far this season finishing third in all of them, two at Doncaster and one at Ayr, so we cannot question his consistency. Two of his three career wins have been here so we know he loves the track, leaving him as a very serious each way option at a decent price, though we cannot help but feel he needs to come down a few pounds in the handicap before he seems likely to win another race. Trainer Brian Ellison who is grabbing all the headlines of late had others that we felt had better chances entered here, so is the fact that he relies on Baraweez (11/1) of any significance we wonder? To be ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, his last win was at Leopardstown over this trip but he has been tried in all the big mile handicaps of late though sadly without success. The drop back in trip may well bring about some improvement but we still aren’t convinced it will be enough to take this race, and we would like to see some evidence of a return to form before we part with any of our money.
Whether it’s the name or the form Lulu The Zulu (10/1) deserves a mention here having scored two of her three victories at this sort of trip. Yet to race here in all of her twenty-two starts, she looked to be getting back to somewhere near her best when fourth to Gran Canaria Queen at York, and off a rating of 98 we fully expect a big run again today. To round the race off, as fans of Marco Botti we need to at least mention the lightly raced Sir Robert Cheval (12/1) who looked as if he was reaching his peak when last seen at Newcastle. A repeat of his two and three quarter length fourth to Free Code would not be good enough to win this in our view but that was only his second run of the season, and his best form is arguably on the all-weather surface at Lingfield so although he may well run a big race, again we suspect a place is really the best he can be aiming for in this company in what may well be the hardest race of the afternoon.