A rather strange contest with sixteen horses but not one of them a known front runner. I'm not sure where the early pace will come from and it automatically puts my betting into the small stakes category. Third top rated is the top weight Verus Delicius who normally tracks the leaders. Its best time was recorded at Brighton so this course should be okay and I think a place is the best it can hope. Second top is Lewisham, who is another that likes to track the leaders. The slight doubt is that its best time came at Epsom which is an easy, downhill course, while here its undulating and stiff climb to the finish. Top rated is MANDALAY KING 14/1 who recorded its best figure at Hamilton, which means it should suit. It usually sits just off the pace and then stays on strongly at the line. If the ground is ideal, it has a few spots in hand. It ran well three races ago to show its form wasn't in question but its last two performances have been on going which has been on the soft side (which doesn't suit), so hopefully with the right sort of going it could at least be placed.
5:00 Newcastle - Fifteen runners now but this is definitely the weaker of the two divisions. Only two horses have achieved my minimum qualifying mark. Four horses have led before: Pennine Warrior, Sandras Diamond, Banovallum & Heroique. However, none are in my top rated. Second top is Teetotal, who did its best time at Carlisle, so this course should be okay. Top ranked is LOTHAIR 8/1 who can sit just off the pace and come home strongly. Its best time came at Hamilton so this course should hold no fears.
SUMMARY: Two quite poor sprints, especially the second division. 4:30 Newcastle - MANDALAY KING 14/1 has to be an each-way bet. I've said before: keep stakes low. 5:00 Newcastle - Once again, I think an each-way bet is best on LOTHAIR 8/1. It's not the greatest price but it is a quarter the odds for a place so equivalent to a 2/1 winner. I'd keep to small stakes. Please remember Eric Winner only bets on good ground or faster. However, some of his follower do take the plunge on any ground. An example: Kinglami won yesterday advised at 14/1.
Mandalay King N/A soft ground
Lothair N/A soft ground