Good Friday Antepost Tips: 8/1 Blanchland a big player on Newcastle Finals Day

Newcastle Racecourse
Newcastle stages the All-Weather Finals on Good Friday

Alan Dudman stands in for Tony Calvin for this week's antepost column and previews the Good Friday action on the ITV cameras...

  • ITV covering Newcastle and Lingfield

  • Blanchland at 8/19.00 looks the one for the Easter Classic

  • Sommelier's turn of foot potent for sprint

  • Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund at £205K - Read more here


  • Newcastle - 13:53 All-Weather Championships Marathon: Back Citizen General

    Ten races for the Good Friday ITV cameras and penning this on Tuesday we start with a marathon race for essentially a marathon couple of days with Finals Day in the north east.

    The opening 13:53 Newcastle 2m contest has been the domain for the older horse of late with 10yo Rainbow Dreamer winning last year for Alan King, and a couple of 8yos have been successful too in recent years.

    Spartan Army was the market header on Tuesday at 4/15.00 for Alan King, and he's been in great nick with the 5yo unbeaten so far in three starts on the AW and beat Palace Boy at Southwell in a muddling sort of race. King is double-handed with Rainbow Dreamer defending his crown with the latter at a massive 25/126.00.

    I do like Palace Boy as a horse and his win at Wolverhampton coming from last-to-first in January was a taking performance.

    That loss to Spartan Army however didn't really suit him in trying to pull of his waiting tactics as the race was slowly run and the closing sectionals were run at 117% and 118 finishing speeds.

    The Gosdens have Vaguely Royal, and he's another with form tied in with Prydwen and Spartan Army from one of the trial races, that again was run at a dawdle and turned into a sprint.

    One at an each-way price is Ed Dunlop's Citizen General, who impressed me with the way he travelled to win at Kempton last time.

    He landed a 0-105 in nice fashion with a near-5L success, and while that was a personal best and another win demands more from his new mark, he ran well in a valuable Kempton race over the winter and he'll travel with some style I am sure.

    Back Citizen General @ 12/113.00

    Bet here

    Newcastle - 14:25 All-Weather 3yo Championship: Back Sommelier

    The 3yo 6f Handicap looks a puzzle to solve with horses still to get near their zenith and a field of winter improvers.

    Sommelier heads the weights for Marco Botti off 96 and is a fair price at 5/16.00, although he was keen enough last time at Kempton

    He has a fine turn of foot, but it comes with its warnings as he is a keen-goer and takes a bit of a grip. His demolition job at Kempton at odds of 1/61.17 highlighted that potent speed, although he was outstayed on his handicap debut on New Years' Day - once again over-racing.

    That didn't quite pan out for him ideally as he raced too close to the pace and with that turn of foot, I am keeping him onside as he's very progressive over 6f.

    Back Sommelier @ 5/16.00

    Bet here

    Newcastle - 15:00 Fillies' And Mares' Championships Handicap: No bet

    The Fillies And Mares' Final is one to sit out even though my old reliable chum Ado McGuinness has a runner in Hodd's Girl.

    This is likely to be one of the smaller fields and Ninth Tenths is a short enough price at 5/23.50 as the market leader for William Haggas.

    She won the Lady Wulfruna at Wolverhampton last time - a Listed contest, so back in a handicap will be tough to beat off 100 and I would be surprised if she has reached her ceiling.

    I backed Doctor Khan Junior in the Wolves race last time he was put in his place, as was Misty Grey. She also holds Cloud Cover on a run at Wolverhampton in the winter, and I am not in a mad rush to take her on, nor back her.


    Newcastle - 16:10: Easter Classic: Back Blanchland

    The Easter Classic is an excellent handicap and well worthy of the grand title with nine of the declarations holding three-figure ratings. Some proper racing.

    Twenty-two were in at the declaration stages with a max field of 14, so it's tough just getting in, let alone win.

    Adrian Murray's Elegant Man is the Amo horse and he impressed with the way he finished at Dundalk last time over the trip and he ran well behind a Godolphin horse previously in Rebel's Romance.

    However, these Amo horse with the start of the season are going off perhaps shorter than they should in terms of price, and the 4/15.00 is prohibitive enough for a red-hot handicap.

    There's a bit of gallic flair for the race with the 10/111.00 Hooking - and he has two Listed wins at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on his dance-card and also holds some Group 2 form across the channel. He would be worth considering at the price for an each-way bet, but Blanchland is one to make the list at 8/19.00.

    He's towards the head of the weights from 105 and he's been off since December. Whether that is by design I don't know, but he does have a bit of class about him for a good trainer in Jane Chapple-Hyam.

    Blanchland does have a couple of lengths to find with Elegant Man on the Kempton run in the Wild Flower Stakes but I like the return to Newcastle as he seemed to thrive on the surface winning a handicap during the winter and he won with a bit in hand there.

    He was a very promising juvenile and also won his Maiden at Newcastle, and with his liking for the track and stamina over further, I am fond of his chances.

    Back Blanchland @ 8/19.00

    Bet here

    Newcastle - 16:40 All-Weather Championships Mile Handicap: No bet

    Another strong handicap to round off Finals Day at Newcastle although very sad not to see a Godolphin horse here considering the ratings.

    Fast Raaj 4/15.00 was one that has chased the riches in Dubai previously and this time last year was out in Meydan. Not now, he has opted for Newcastle and the more nuts and bolts racing.

    He's a similar sort of price to Dear My Friend, who is the 11/43.75 favourite, but I very rarely back horses from the Charlie Johnston yard, so while he's in form, it's a swerve from me.

    In fact, I struggled to find a bet here, and with so many races on Friday, it's another one from me to sit out.


    Lingfield - 14:40 All Weather Vase Mile Handicap: Back McLean House

    Four of the Lingfield races for the Vase, and for those not quite considered good enough for the finals, are also on ITV and a couple of the races are tricky, especially at the bingo track.

    McLean House looks one of the most interesting as he was close to Dear My Friend last time and paid trying to give him a race. He was undone by a stronger stayer on that occasion and a return to Lingfield is a major plus as he's two from two here.

    With William Carver booked to claim some weight, he's been progressive this winter.

    Back McLean House @ 5/16.00

    Bet here

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