Friday 7 April 2023

Friday 7th & Saturday 8th April 2023: Obelix the Pillar of Class at Newcastle

It’s All-Weather Finals Day at Newcastle on Friday. Between the six Championship races and the Burradon, over £1 million is on offer while Lingfield hosts the Vase races. There are Group/Grade 1 races of significant importance in Australia and the USA too.

We have a very busy weekend indeed, beginning in the Toon.

Friday 7th April 2023

1.15 Newcastle (Burradon Stakes – Listed Race) – OBELIX 

This is a very competitive Burradon. The race has produced Gronkowsi and Megallan among others, and we might just see a smart performance from a well-bred colt here.

John & Thady Gosden train Obelix for KHK Racing, owners of Eldar Eldarov, and the son of Sea The Stars has a ton of talent.

He has won over this course and distance ever so easily and looks the type to progress markedly now. He is also still entered in the 2000 Guineas and the Dante.

Arabian Storm has won similarly at Newcastle and also looks good, though in his case a look through the form from that race shows it was not at all impressive, even if his turf form from a strong novice race was. Others to watch include Galreon, Flight Plan and at a big price, Dark Thirty.

1.50 Newcastle (All-Weather 3yo Championships) – SHOULDBEBEENARING

Based on all known factors, I rather feel the early market got this one right.

Richard Hannon’s Shouldvebeenaring (Sean Levey) has the ability to win this and she has the form if you look closely enough and compare form lines.

The big danger is Julie Camacho’s Shaquille, a colt with a 3-4 record who has won over 6 on Tepeta in good style, while solid enough in behind the two are New Definition and Hello Queen.

2.05 Lingfield (All-Weather Vase Marathon) – MR ESCOBAR

Rare one for Willie Mullins. He sends his new recruit to Lingfield to be ridden by Ryan Moore. Mr Escobar has had some time now with Mullins, he is in hotter company, it’s only his fourth run and he is stepping up from 1¼ to two miles which is perfect.

2.25 Newcastle (All-Weather Marathon Championships) – FLEURMAN

Based partly on actual form but also on rates of progression in these conditions, Fleurman looks a fair bet in the two-mile race Olly Murphy’s five-year-old is rated 91 and is on the way up, giving the impression he’s worth a good bit more. 

David O’Meara’s Barenboim is a danger, as are solid types Berkshire Rocco and Rainbow Dreamer. This may be tough for last year’s winner Earlofthecotswolds and up-and-coming Nolton Cross.

2.40 Lingfield (All-Weather Vase Mile) – BREWING

William Haggas’ Brewing is unbeaten, with all three runs coming on the all-weather but it’s about more than that. The four-year-old gelding can reach a much higher level and at the weights, has an outstanding chance under Ryan Moore.

3.00 Newcastle (All-Weather Middle-Distance Championships) – FOREST OF DEAN

Also known as the Easter Classic, this is a £200,000 contest over the mile and a quarter.

John & Thady Gosden have a strong hand here with their solid, Group-performing seven-year-olds Forest Of Dean and Harrovian. Though the latter was once considered the better horse, Forest Of Dean is in terrific form just now, beat his pal on this course not so long ago and can do so again under James Doyle.

Base Note, Freescape and Notre Belle Bete will need to improve.

3.35 Newcastle (All-Weather Mile Championships) – SAN ANDREAS

Joseph O’Brien’s may be on bigger things (see Saturday’s information), but he has a big shout of another large pot here with his San Andreas.

Berkshire Shadow has the form to win this and is in form having won last time out on Tapeta, but is a very short price and could be vulnerable to an improver.

San Andreas has been running to marks over 100 consistently, but last time reached a new level with an easy win at Dundalk and there is even more to come from him. James Doyle rides.

4.10 Newcastle (All-Weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships) – MANAAFITH

This race really does come down to William Haggas’ Queen Aminatu and Roger Varian’s Manaafith. It’s a tight call and at the time of writing Manaafith is a short price, but she just about gets the vote.

She’s gone from odds-on at the start of the week to 6/5 on Thursday. In the hope that she drifts further, which I have no problem with, she can be a backable price in what is a two-horse race if they run to their merits.

4.25 Lingfield (All-Weather Vase Fillies’ Handicap) – SPRING PROMISE

While James Doyle is at Newcastle, William Buick is at Lingfield to ride this filly, Spring Promise. She is a three-year-old taking on the older fillies, but she is very well treated and the team know it well. 

4.45 Newcastle (All-Weather Sprint Championships) – VADREAM

The well-backed Annaf represents top all-weather trainer Michael Appleby and multiple Group 1-winning jockey James Doyle. He is on a four-timer on the all-weather and has been freshened up, so a big run could be on the cards.

Diligent Harry is another in with a big shout, but Vadream is class and gets a 5lbs fillies’ allowance.

The manner of her victory last Saturday at Doncaster showed her to be not only in great form, but still improving overall. According to Charlie Fellowes she thrives on her racing and would rather this than a break, while the level of her form is above most others in this race. Hollie Doyle gets the ride.

Saturday 8th April 2023 

6.15 (AM) Randwick (Sydney Cup – Group 1 Handicap) – CLEVELAND

Cleveland was a revelation for Aidan O’Brien last May when winning the Chester Cup. Since moving to Joseph O’Brien, he has kept improving quietly.

After taking in the Tancred Stakes over an inadequate trip he is as sharp as he can be right now and he’s getting better. We should remember that, as it stands, he is the best horse in this race at the weights and this is his big target so we should see the best of him.

King Frankel is improving and can go well, as can Arapaho, Nerve Not Verve, High Emocean and Surefire in a hugely competitive Group 1 handicap. Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip may continue to struggle at the weights.

Later on the card is the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the clash between Anamoe and Dubai Honour. We’ll see both horses back in England soon, but for what it’s worth I couldn’t take the prices offered when Cascadian and Montefelia have a strong chance too.

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