An intriguing maiden stakes is on the agenda for the fourth race of the day at Newcastle on Friday. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: This is an intriguing contest with some very interesting runners, but perhaps none more so than Nicky Henderson’s CLONDAW BANKER. Henderson’s first runner here on the tapeta at Newcastle, this eight year old looks to have been found a perfect opportunity to return to winning ways on flat debut. A winner of an all weather bumper, the surface is unlikely to be an issue and this trip is likely to be fine also with there being speed in his pedigree. An effort comparable to his good hurdling form from last season is likely to be enough to see him winning this for the top jumps trainer, with his latest chase effort likely best ignored as a mistake ending his chances that day and he should find this much easier. Most likely to chase him home is Sugerloaf Mountain, who ran well to finish third on debut for Brian Ellison last month.
1 AFTER TONIIGHT– Bumper winner back in December 2014 when with David O’Meara and has since switched yards to Keith Reveley where he was well beaten in two hurdling runs. He signed off with that yard when second to a 66/1 winner over C&D in January, which wasn’t a disgraceful effort. Is now with Gillian Boanas and will need more if he’s to take this against some interesting types, but does remain with potential to improve and has to be respected.
2 CLONDAW BANKER – Winner over hurdles at Sandown in November 2015 for top jumps trainer Nicky Henderson who has his first runner on the tapeta at Newcastle today. A winner of an all weather bumper in the past, the surface is unlikely to be a problem and an effort comparable to his good hurdling form of last season is likely to be enough for him to win a race like this. His return run this season over fences is best ignored as he was entitled to need that and he’ll find this much easier. He can make it a 100% record here for Henderson today with Martin Harley taking the ride.
3 CODESHARE – Second in a Carlisle bumper in November and hasn’t been disgraced on two flat runs since, placing here on both occasions. He was however three lengths behind After Toniight on his latest start and that rival arguably more likely to improve, as he looked rather one paced on that occasion. Needs more for Alan Swinbank and Joe Fanning today and hard to see him having any more than place claims today on these terms.
4 IBREEQ – Has an attractive flat pedigree, related to multiple smart horses but has shown none of that so far, finishing well beaten on both bumper starts for Roger Fell this season. All weather/flat debut today with Jack Garritty taking the ride and looks vulnerable on these terms. Hard to see him being involved today unless he has made huge strides in the month he’s been absent, and is likely best watched today.
5 RASASEE – Had shown some good form for Marco Botti including three placed efforts, the latest of which coming at Sandown in May 2016 (1m 6f, Good to Firm). The best of his form, including a very close third at Haydock in August (1m 3f, Good to Firm) should be enough to win a race of this nature but he became a very frustrating horse to follow with no wins from seven starts, subsequently leaving that yard to join Tim Vaughan. This yard does remain in form however and Paul Hanagan takes the ride which is a positive but he’ll need to overcome a 169 day absence which is a concern, likely place claims but hard to put forward for win purposes.
6 SUGERLOAF MOUNTAIN – Has an incredibly attractive pedigree and was formely with Aidan O’Brien for two runs, where he never lived up to that pedigree and was well beaten on two occasions at Naas. He did however make a promising start to life with the Brian Ellison yard when third here in January over the 1m 2f trip, which brings him straight into the reckoning for this. He should improve further for the step up in trip and has to be respected as any amount of improvement would see him as a dangerous candidate.
7 CASABLANCA – Would have to be considered a leading contender on the best of his form, which includes a very close second at Chester in September when trying to make all (1m 2f, Good to Soft). Ran respectably on all weather when third at Chelmsford in October (1m 2f, Std) but made a made low key return recently at Lingfield when well beaten at this trip two weeks ago, beaten by nearly ten lengths. Very much exposed and doesn’t seem to be improving, so is hard to fancy today.