Well the New Year started with some leadened hooved jumping displays for our chasing picks.
It is with some relief therefore that a weather-truncated programme pushes us back on to the all-weather and a decent meeting up at Newcastle.
Tempting as it is to pick blog favourite Gracious John (1710), this stiff straight 5f may not be totally ideal and he’s a short price to be harbouring even slight doubts.
The card’s opening race (1535) is a fascinating heat. Favourite Dubawi Fifty steps back to 12f for the first time in a year and has a tactical conundrum being best held up but also needing this to be a stamina test.
Crowned Eagle was considered good enough to run in the Derby in June. It has been a slow deterioration since and a sales price of 25k in the October sales looked like a fire-sale. His third at Wolverhampton was decent, but he was hanging up the straight and he doesn’t look an easy ride.
It will be a surprise if Sir Chauvelin makes the journey down from Musselburgh where he won over hurdles yesterday and he surely needs a rest.
The one that catches our eye is Lawless Secret. She was an unconsidered 80/1 shot when winning on debut in August and was consistent through a busy Autumn until flopping in the mud in France.
It would have been easy after that display to put her away until next season, so it looks significant that trainer Simon Crisford feels a winter campaign is worth pursuing and that a trek from Newmarket to Newcastle is an appropriate starting point.
Her breeding suggests a switch to the faster synthetic surface could produce improvement on her good-to-soft turf record, and jockey Rob Havlin has been riding with a hunger for winners after serving a controversial and disputed drugs ban.
Recommendation: Lawless Secret, (1535 Newcastle), 1pt win, 5/1 Paddy Power
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