A busy day at Newcastle for their first jumps meeting of the new season. We’ll be racing on good ground, which usually isn’t the case at this time of year and I reckon most of ours would prefer it a bit softer. However, as long as it’s safe then we’ll take our chances.
First up will be FINAL FLING in the opener at 11.45. We were delighted with his comeback at Kelso a few weeks ago, this is a slight ease in grade and he’s certainly good enough to be competitive. But, a bit like ESPOIR MORIVIERE, who runs in the second division at 12.18, I think softer ground would suit them better.
Both are in good order, they’re fit and ready to go but the underfoot conditions are the concern, especially if the races are run at a good-ground pace which you’d expect them to be. Despite my reservations, both will hopefully still give good accounts of themselves.
GEORDIELANDGANGSTA (12.48) is in good order ahead of his seasonal reappearance. He didn’t go a yard the last time he was seen at Catterick back in January but as you know, our horses were not right at that moment in time so just put a line through it. He’s far better that we saw that day and I expect much better from him this season.
Our horses have pretty much all run well first time up, we’re happy with where we’ve been able to get them to fitness-wise so hopefully he can continue that trend.
SHANBALLY ROSE (1.23) will make her debut in the mares’ novice hurdle. Third in a 2018 point-to-point which has worked out quite well - the winner has won since and ran at the Cheltenham festival - she has been a longer term project. We’ve had to be patient with her and it’s taken time to get her to this stage, but she looks ready now and we’re hoping for a nice, encouraging run for her new owners Caroline Hunter and the Edwardsons.
DOKTOR GLAZ (1.58) returns to the track after 950 days off - so long he’s now qualified for this veterans’ chase! He’s a fragile horse but he’s actually one of ours who will like the good ground. He won his last two starts in 2018 before picking up an injury so we’d love him to pick up where he left off. He’s in great order - as you can see from the picture above of Dobbs riding him the other day - and we’re thrilled to have him back.
We run two in the bumper at 3.40, LAST ONE TO SHOW and OKAVANGO DELTA. As always, these races are mainly about education and that will be the case for our pair. Ovavango is a horse we’ve liked at home but we’re on a bit of a fact-finding mission to discover where he is mentally. My suspicion is he’s still a bit weak and has a fair bit of growing still to do, but he’s ready to run and take this next step. We’ll know more about him after the race.
Last One To Show disappointed us at Catterick last season because we know he’s better than he ran that day. He will benefit from having had the summer and a bit of time to develop further. Again, we’ll have a better picture of where we are with him afterwards.