What are the best bets at Newcastle on Saturday?
12:20 6f Betfred “Supports Jack Berry House” Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+ 0-100)
Ekhtiyaar has a touch of class about him and he might be able to bounce back from a poor run last time now switched to Tapeta. But he is still 5lb above his last winning mark and might struggle to give 4lb to GOLDEN APOLLO, who is temptingly priced at 12/1 with bet365. Bookmakers prefer his stablemate Staxton, who is half his price, but the selection is potentially better drawn in stall two and is now back on the same mark off which he was a decisive winner at Ascot on Shergar Cup day. He’s been running creditably over 7f the last twice but a fast run 6f is probably what he needs and he should get that today. At 12/1 with bet365, he rates solid each-way value.
12:55 f Betfred TV Chipchase Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
There is very little between the main protagonists on official ratings but one who seems sure to be in the firing line is last year’s desperately unlucky third KIMBERELLA. He travelled beautifully 12 months ago only to get trapped on the near rail and still nearly got there when finally gaining a clear passage. Now an eight-year-old, there have been no signs that he’s slowing with age and indeed he warmed up for this when showing a great to get beaten on the nod at Hamilton. He’s a genuine 6f horse who is proven on this Tapeta surface and that can’t be said about most of his rivals.
1:30 2m½f (2m56y) Betfred Northumberland Vase Handicap (Consolation Race For The Northumberland Plate) (Class 2) (3yo+)
This consolidation race looks as tough to solve as the feature and just when I thought I’d found one, Iain Jardine’s BEDROCK, who took apart his rivals in a competitive staying heat at Musselburgh last time and is 3lb well in under his penalty, his draw in stall 20 (widest of all) forced a rethink. He surely cannot win from that out wide – or can he?
I might still have a little on at bet365’s 9/1 but the same firm’s 20/1 on CHOCOLATE BOX is also worth an each-way interest. That price looks a shade too big for a horse who won well on his stable debut at Chelmsford (2m, all-weather) in March, after which his rider mentioned this race as a suitable target, and has run two solid races in defeat since off his revised mark. He certainly looks a stronger horse this season than last, when not beaten far over track and trip last September, and is potentially well drawn stall two to boot.
2:05 2m½f (2m56y) Stobart Rail & Civils Northumberland Plate Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+)
Bookmakers are taking no chances with Roger Charlton’s Withold, who is no bigger than 9/2 at the time of writing, and that’s no surprise as they took a hammering when the gelding landed a monumental gamble in last season’s Cesarewitch. However, he’s not been seen out since and while he could still be very well treated on a mark of 99, his long absence and the fact he was beaten off a mark of 79 on his sole all-weather start, makes me want to take him on.
Were not short on alternatives either and while others have much stronger claims on recent form – Lagostevegas and Amazing Red being the two last-time-out winners in the field – I’m happy to take a chance on Saeed bin Suroor’s NATURAL SCENERY at a double-digit price. Her 2018 form figures of 3549 don’t scream ‘winner’, admittedly, but she probably ran as well as could be expected in a Meydan Group 2 on her most recent outing at the end of March. She should have benefited from a break since as she goes well fresh and I suspect her connections have always had this race in mind for her following her close second in this race last year off a 2lb higher mark (she has a 3lb pull with the winner Higher Power). That was taking her form figures on Tapeta to 1112, with one of her successes coming over this track and trip, and that her stable has burst into life in the last week (four winners and three seconds) clinches the bet. If only she was better drawn (Paul Hanagan will come out of stall 14), but she ticks every other box.
Newcastle 12.20, Golden Apollo each-way @ 12/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
Newcastle 12.55, Kimbrella @ 5/1 bet365
Newcastle 1.30, Bedrock @ 9/1 bet365 / Chocolate Box each-way @ 22/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 18.104.22.168)
Newcastle 2.05, Natural Scenery @ 11/1 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.