It's a welcome return to UK racing with a bumper 10-race card at Newcastle on Monday, and our top tipster Tony Calvin is here with a quartet of bets for your consideration...
"If a subsequent gelding operation has allowed him to harness his potential then this £85,000 yearling purchase, who ran well on debut last year, could kick on now."
For now, at least.
Horse racing in the UK has finally returned - though, unbelievably, we had to wait until Saturday afternoon to get the official green light - and I hope it coincides with you and your loved ones in good health.
I am sure the past three months or so has presented many of you with far greater challenges than not having a bet - unlike others, I don't feel comfortable with tipping and punting on racing from the likes of Australia, America, Hong Kong, Germany and France, so I have literally done nothing for 10 weeks - but it is clearly welcome news that we finally have something familiar to go at, at last.
How long we are able to enjoy the sport is another matter - the nation's health will dictate that - but let's celebrate the small wins in a time of such loss.
Reduced number of fixtures makes more appeal
And the fact that racing returns in a low-key manner - as regards the number of fixtures, and certainly not the class factor - works in the punters' favour.
Far too often in the past the bloated fixture list has immediately proved off-putting, but a smaller number of fixtures each day has a far more appealing and manageable look to it, with just Newcastle - you can read Timeform's guide to the north east venue here - first up on Monday.
You can study the cards in depth.
Of course, don't let anybody tell you that you should be going in all guns blazing after an enforced lay-off - if you have resisted the delights of international racing since March, you are probably richer, and certainly refreshed, for the swerve - as the punting downsides are there for all to see, most obviously unknown form and fitness levels.
The obvious advice it to keep stakes low, but let us crack on regardless.
Stone looks solid but the price has gone
It makes sense to attack the 10-race Newcastle card in chronological order, but just a quick word before I start.
I have published my profit and loss on my selections since starting my ITV tipping article for this column on April 14 2017, and went into our enforced lockdown over 300 points up to level stakes (and settled to Betfair SP on exchange bets).
However, it seems sensible to start afresh now, if only to re-concentrate the mind.
Here comes the losing run!
As I mentioned in my Betting Masterclass, (published in April), a published and transparent P&L really is a must for any tipster.
Anyway, to Newcastle we go.
First up is a 1m 0-65 handicap at 13:00 and the horse that immediately hits you in the eyes like a sudden burst of sunlight while driving is Stone Mason. It was no surprise to see the 4/1 put up by one firm on Friday afternoon immediately clipped into 3/1 and then 5/2.
And even shorter since, with 7/4 around the current price.
The reason being is that he has joined the excellent Mick Appleby since his last run (from Roger Charlton, for a ridiculously cheap-looking £12,000) and has his first start for him so from what appears a very lenient mark of 63.
There was no shortage of promise in his last run over 1m2f for Charlton at Newbury last August - he travelled well, despite being poorly positioned on the track, until the tank ran empty - and the handicapper, rather generously, dropped him 5lb for it.
He has looked a weak finisher over 1m2f, so the step down in trip to a mile is an obvious move for this half-brother to a decent 7f Dubai dirt horse in Spirit Of Battle, and he has also been gelded, too, which new connections obviously felt was needed.
If you want to re-start your UK punting with a winner, then he is your likeliest candidate, but he clearly hasn't been missed in the market, and it's not a bad 0-65 at all, with Heavenly Tale (making her debut for the shrewd Tristan Davidson, having left Ralph Beckett for just 10,000gns in October) another very interesting switcher.
In fact, the well-bred Shamardal filly Heavenly Tale has a very similar profile to Stone Mason in that she is also stepping down in trip - she was a tempting 9/1 chance early doors on Friday - but I can let this race pass now that the fancy prices about that pair have gone, as there are two of three other solid enough sorts in here, too.
Viceroy looks a big price but trip a definite concern
There is a short-priced favourite in the 13:30 in the shape of Roger Varian's Mutasaamy and that is predictable enough, given that that this beautifully bred individual (by Oasis Dream out of Oaks winner Eswarah) finally got his act together last season after gelding and remains handsomely treated after going up 8lb for a Kempton win that worked out well.
I am not in too much of a rush to take him on but the 25/1+ chance Indian Viceroy is half-interesting on his debut for Grant Tuer.
In fact, I would have him have definitely put him up each-way against the favourite were it not for the fact that 7f could prove his optimum trip, as his Kempton win last August, in a fair time, reads well in this tight-knit handicap. But the 1m trip here worries me.
As regular readers will know, novice and maiden races, with very little form to go on and full of unraced horses, don't float my boat at all, so I won't bore you with my brief thoughts on the next two races on the card (the 14:10 and 14:45).
They will be the punting domain of the gossip and gallop merchants - expect them to be in their element in the opening weeks of the season - and that is not really my scene.
Don't expect Brian to be slow today
There is pace all across the track in the 6f handicap at 15:20 so hopefully it will be a no-excuses race.
Once again, there are some interesting stable-switchers in here, three in fact, but the two that interest me most are Brian The Snail and Tathmeen.
Anthony Brittain's horses were in unbelievable form from December to March - it was as if someone had just flicked a switch - and Tathmeen was illustrative of the well-being of his yard.
There could be more improvement in him but I am going to take a chance with the inconsistent Brian The Snail at twice the price.
His patchy record would have connections pulling their hair out and his recent record when fresh isn't too clever either, but a reproduction of his sole run here last June would make him the pick of these weights.
He was beaten less than 3 lengths that day, despite being isolated on the far side from stall one, and that came in a strong handicap off a 6lb higher mark than this.
His draw in two is perhaps not ideal once again, but he has a pacesetter in Northgate Lad on his inside in one, and my plan (being a premier jockey) would be to sit behind him in a near centre-field position and strike late.
The early fixed-odds 12s went on Saturday morning, but he still rates a small nibble at 10.09/1 or bigger, win-only due to his hit-and-miss profile.
A pair of well-treated runners to back in the sprint
The 3yo 6f handicap at 15:55 is one tricky affair, with just a 2lb weight range splitting top and bottom and a couple of dangerous-looking twice-raced sorts, who unsurprisingly head the market.
However, I am backing two against the field in the shape of Shoot To Kill and Written Broadcast, at 15.014/1 or bigger, and 10.09/1 and above, respectively.
The latter was as big as 14/1 in the marketplace on Saturday morning, and all the 12s has gone too, but 10/1 is still acceptable.
Shoot To Kill is drawn next to a couple of potential front-runners on his inner, so hopefully he will get a good tow into the race.
He has gone forward in the past himself too, and he is well handicapped off 74 on his Chelmsford second last September.
If a subsequent gelding operation has allowed him to harness his potential then this £85,000 yearling purchase, who ran well on debut last year, could kick on now.
Written Broadcast joined the excellent Jedd O'Keeffe from Richard Hannon for just 13,000gns at the October Sales, and that could prove an excellent purchase. Indeed, his new owners Quantum (a very shrewd outfit who did well last season) normally pay six figures for their horses in the yard, and they could have a bargain here.
If he comes back to the form of his Newbury runner-up placing last July, in a good time, then he is certainly one well treated horse off a mark of 74. That second has worked out very well, and he must go well if the race doesn't develop away from him from his draw on the inside in 12.
The step down to 6f off a falling mark (he has been dropped 6lb since that Newbury run) looks the right call, too.
Bo the selecta at a big price
I am happy to ignore the two maidens at the end of the card - the well-touted Frankly Darling is the warm order in the first division - and I am going to give the 5f handicap at 16:30 a miss as well.
I was actually tempted by Requinto Dawn at a double-figure price as I don't buy into the in-running comment that he was making "no impression" when he clipped heels and came down here in February - he looked to be going well enough in behind a wall of horses to me - and he is handicapped to win races off 65.
However, it is clearly an unknown how that unfortunate incident has affected him, and he is up against a few in here with more progressive and lightly-raced profiles, as well.
That just leaves the extended 1m4f handicap on the card at 17:05 to contend with.
Alignak, Good Tidings and Ice Pyramid dominate the market and you can see why - particularly the former - but you clearly aren't getting a bargain with any of the trio at their current prices.
I was going to take a chance on Bo Samraan at 18/1 each-way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook on the basis that there isn't much pace on here and I can see Joe Fanning bouncing him out from two and making a bold bid to make all. The extra place was a nice bonus, too.
However, the price was annoyingly cut into 14/1 on Saturday morning, so I am going to suggest a very minor win-only exchange bet at 19.018/1 or bigger, instead.
He is currently 23.022/1 on the exchange, so that leaves some wriggle room.
He probably doesn't have the upside handicap potential of the market leaders, having shown his hand at the back-end of last year, but his record tells you that he goes well when fresh and this well-related colt will hopefully have his own share of progress in him, too.
The French 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas also take place on Monday but I am happy to leave those brace of Classics to the Gallic maestros out there.
Good luck, all. Keep those stakes low.
Our first racecourse guide is now live, so can you add to any Newcastle content pls. Will have similar for Newmarket, Ascot and other key courses in coming week, will share as they go live.
Check out Betfair's video guide to Newcastle, in association with Timeform...
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Back Brian The Snail at 10.09/1 or bigger in 15:20
Back Shoot To Kill at 15.014/1 or bigger in 15:55
Back Written Broadcast at 10.09/1 or bigger in 15:55
Back Bo Samraan at 19.018/1 or bigger in 17:05