Racing in the UK has been given the green light with Newcastle to kick off opening day proceedings with a 10-race card at High Gosforth Park.
Of the bigger names to be making the trip to the North-Eastern city, Oisin Murphy will have three rides while trainer John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute will also have runners.
FREE NEWCASTLE TIPS
BEST BET: STONE MASON
STONE MASON always appeared as the type who would progress with time and he looks nicely treated running off a mark of 63. The son of Pivotal was last seen finishing seventh in a warm event at Newbury over 1m2f and that form has been handsomely boosted by many of those in front. Al Ozzdi posted two solid efforts in third at Wolverhampton when last seen and is respected, while The Big House was a progressive sort on turf throughout last year and looks the pick of the remainder.
BEST BET: MUTASAAMY
MUTASAAMY sauntered clear to score by almost three lengths over this trip at Kempton in August and an 8lb rise looks manageable given the impressive nature of that success. Geizy Teizy posted a lacklustre effort when last seen here in February but her earlier placed form came in stronger races than this and it would be no surprise to see her bounce back. Defence Treaty was a winner over seven furlongs here in June and looks the type to progress further, with Little Jo another to consider.
BEST BET: BOND’S BOY
Although 160,000gns purchase Freedom Flyer is respected on debut for Simon and Ed Crisford, it may be best to focus on those with racecourse experience. Little Red Socks did the job well at Wolverhampton and is interesting, but BOND’S BOY followed up a Redcar success with a cracking third in a valuable sales race at Newmarket and can strike on his return. Ejtilaab won nicely on his first run at Doncaster last summer but a lengthy absence and a hefty weight will make life tougher in this.
BEST BET: MAGICAL JOURNEY
Art Power won with plenty in hand at York when last seen and is respected, but he may struggle to give 5lb to MAGICAL JOURNEY. James Tate’s filly won on her debut at Beverley and ran a cracker to finish second in Listed company at Newmarket in November, with a subsequent French Listed winner behind in fourth. She looks capable of defying a penalty in this. Continental, who fetched 240,000 pounds at the sales, is the pick of the newcomers.
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BEST BET: TATHMEEN
TATHMEEN has been in great order on the all-weather this year, winning on three of his last four visits here before rattling the crossbar in a higher grade at Wolverhampton in March. The return to 0-85 company entitles him to improve and it would come as no surprise to see Antony Brittain’s five-year-old add another course victory to his tally. The return to 6f appears a positive for Heath Charnock, who kept on into third behind the selection over 5f here in February, and he can fight it out with Tricky Dicky, who won four times for Roger Fell last season after moving stables, for the silver medal.
BEST BET: ROCK OF DIAMONDS
ROCK OF DIAMONDS failed to justify favouritism in a 7f novice contest at Wolverhampton in March but ran well for a long way and it may well be that he can strike at the third attempt for Simon and Ed Crisford now dropping back to 6f. Any money for Oakenshield would be notable as he has been gelded and given a wind operation since finishing in midfield at Hamilton in September. What A Business is another to monitor in the betting now eased in grade and returned to 6f, over which he was admirably consistent last term.
BEST BET: BE PROUD
Queen Of Kalahari will have plenty of supporters having won four of her last five starts, but all of those victories came on Southwell’s Fibresand and the sole defeat came here off a 5lb lower mark. BE PROUD, on the other hand, seems to really like it here and following a C&D success, he only found one too good over 6f off this mark when last seen in January and a bold bid looks likely. Clearly the penny has dropped with Quanah as he signed off last term with a Hamilton/Musselburgh double and still looks feasibly treated as he bids for a hat-trick, although he was well beaten here on his only previous all-weather outing.
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BEST BET: ICE PYRAMID
Things seemed to click with Alignak when he bounded clear for an impressive breakthrough success over 1m3f on Kempton’s Polytrack in September and, related to some smart performers, there could be plenty more to come from Sir Michael Stoute’s charge. Slight preference, however, is for the C&D form of ICE PYRAMID, who has hacked up over this track and trip twice already this year, including when last seen in February, and a 7lb rise may not be enough to halt this progressive Philip Kirby five-year-old. The latter’s stablemate, December Second, must be respected on his first outing since a facile success off 10lb lower at Haydock in August, while Good Tidings is another C&D scorer to consider for John Gosden.
BEST BET: FRANKLY DARLING
FRANKLY DARLING went into plenty of notebooks on her racecourse bow at Yarmouth last back end, travelling stylishly in testing conditions before finding only a similarly exciting prospect too good. The daughter of Frankel is currently as low as 25/1 for the Oaks and can embark on a possible Classic path here. Thibaan also offered plenty of encouragement on his introduction, and his staying-on fourth over Kempton’s mile suggested that middle distances will be his forte. The newcomer Dream With Me, another of Frankel’s progeny, cost 700,000gns and is still in the Derby.
BEST BET: BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Phoenix Thoroughbreds forked out an eyewatering 2million euros for Luck On Sunday, who is a full-sister to Alice Springs, while Frankel colt Valyrian Steel went for 600,000 euros and Roger Varian has put him in the Derby. BYZANTINE EMPIRE holds the same Classic engagement, but has the benefit of experience after two juvenile outings. He let down favourite-backers on the most recent at Sandown, but his debut second on the Kempton Polytrack was much better and he gets the nod on that basis.