The Shortlist report is freely available to all readers on Tuesdays and our free races of the day will be the following...
- 1.00 Catterick
- 4.00 Newcastle
- 5.20 Gowran Park
- 6.30 Newcastle
The first of the two Newcastle contests is the most valuable of the four free races and it looks an interesting/tight contest with any number of possible winners at first glance. So, without too much further ado, let's take a look at the 4.00 Newcastle, an 8-runner (hopefully staying that way for E/W punters), Class 2 A/W handicap for 4yo+ over 2m0.5f on the Tapeta. The top prize of £12,938 will end with one of these...
Who Dares Wins carries top weight off a mark of 104, was a class, course and distance winner here way back in June 2019 off just three pounds lower. Had struggled in five contests after a 2m5.5f win at Ascot last June but showed signs of a return to form when only beaten by a neck in another Class 2, 2m0.5f Tapeta handicap at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, staying on well.
Island Brave has two wins and a place from his last six runs, he has 7 wins and 3 places from 19 on the A/W and won over class, course and distance here last time out. He has been afforded the luxury of an 80-day break and is only up 3lbs for that last run, but is now on a career-high mark and he did only win by half a length, though, in another tight contest (first six separated by 3.5L). Yard is 11 from 49 (22.5% SR, A/E 1.46) on the A/W here and jockey Martin Dwyer is 5 from 18 (27.8% SR, A/E 2.54) for the yard in handicaps over the last year.
Rare Groove makes a rare appearance having not been seen in over 18 months since being beaten by a neck in a 17-runner Class 2 handicap over this trip at York. He's had no favours from the assessor, as his mark remains unaltered from that last run. He has a win and two runner-up finished from three previous visits to this track and under normal circumstances he'd be in the mix off a mark of 96, but the lay-off probably means he needs the run.
Stargazer produced his best run in six last time out, when beaten by just over half a length at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, finishing behind Who Dares Wins. He's up a pound for that run and is now some 6lbs higher than his last win, but he does have a good record here (22212138) despite going down by 6.5 and 7.5 lengths on his last two visits.
Carnwennan is a pound higher than when a half-length runner-up in this race last year, but hasn't acquitted himself too well in just four starts since. His lack of form and the scarcity of runs suggests something might not quite be right with him, but he is a former course and distance winner. Last time out, he was beaten by 21 lengths off this mark at Wolverhampton, so a dramatic improvement is needed here, but his trainer is 6/23 here over the last year, his jockey is 3/15 over the same period and they are 3 from 12 as a partnership.
Notation is miles clear on the Geegeez ratings and comes here off the back of three wins and two runner-up finishes from six runs on the A/W and now steps up in class and trip for a first visit to Newcastle. Easily the most progressive in the pack here and if adapting to the new race conditions, might be difficult to peg back, especially if allowed to dominate like so many Mark Johnston horses do.
Cosmelli won here over C&D seven starts ago back in July and was a runner-up over C&D three starts ago, albeit both runs were at Class 3. He was then beaten by 16 lengths over this trip stepped up to Class 2 at Wolverhampton finishing last of 11, beaten by 50 lengths over 2m at Class 3 last time out. His C&D form is encouraging, but those two most recent runs are a little off-putting. He doesn't come across as the reliable type and basically didn't run last time out. Yard and jockey are both struggling for winners (0/16 and 0/11 respectively over the last fortnight), so this one is probably best left alone.
Jedhi returns to level ground after failing to make the frame on four efforts over hurdles and now tackles the A/W for the first time since June 2019. She's never gone further than 1m6f on the A/W and her sole win away from the turf came as far back as August 2018, when she landed a Class 5 handicap over a mile and a half. her career best effort came off this mark when winning by a nose back in July 2019 and after three months break, she's better off just watched.
Instant Expert suggests...
...Who Dares Wins, Island Brave and possibly Notation are best suited here, but only Cosmelli and Jedhi look out of it. Rare Groove's mark of 96 looks a concern at 15lbs higher than his last comparable win and the same can be said against Jedhi.
The draw stats here tell us that other than what looks an anomalous figure from stall 3, that it's best to be drawn out in 6, 7 or 8, although I'm admittedly a little sceptical about the draw over two miles from the finish...
And for those not lucky enough to get a high draw, it seems best to drop back from a low draw or to get on with it from the middle: grabbing the rail I assume?
We already know the draw and we already know how best to run the race from a given draw, so let's see how our runners fit into that heat map...
The win percentages for the four running styles are all pretty similar if truth be told and based on that closeness and my reluctance to add too much weight to a draw in a 2m+ contest, I'm not over-convinced the traffic light system is as relevant as usual (don't forget, a single stat in isolation isn't always one to be relied upon!). What is apparent is that Notation is going to try and dominate from the off, the next two prominent racers are both outside her, so she should get a soft unchallenged lead. The question is how far clear can she get before the pack start to close on her.
I've think that I've already made it clear that Cosmelli & Jedhi aren't for me and that Rare Groove is going to need a run after so long off the track. Stargazer has run poorly as though something was amiss in his last two starts and I have concerns about Carnwennan's lack of form and recent activity, so almost by default without even saying I like any of the runners, I'm down to my "three against the field".
And they are Island Brave, Notation and Who Dares Wins. Island Brave is in form, showed well on IE, has a good pace/draw make-up, yard goes well at this track and the TJ combo numbers are good. Notation is young and progressive and looks like grabbing a soft lead which might be difficult to peg back, she's way clear on our ratings and she's used to winning, whilst Who Dares Wins just seems to have a solid all-round profile in the areas I've discussed.
Had WDW been in better form prior to last time out, I'd probably have sided with him, but my tentative preference here is for Notation. If she gets out and stays out, that could well be enough. As for the minors, not much in it to be fair, but Who Dares Wins edges it over Island Brave, who might just have too weight to carry.
To be honest, any of these three could win, but I'd be surprised if none did.