Newcastle has become an important course for UK racing hosting key meetings such as the Betfair-sponsored Northumberland Plate Festival. Timeform's Sam Randall has the lowdown...
"Hold-up horses have a considerably better record at Newcastle than any other all-weather track..."
Steeped in history
Also known as Gosforth Park, Newcastle racecourse is steeped in history. Indeed, the track's iconic Flat race the Betfair sponsored Northumberland Plate is the best part of 200 years old and is now one of the most valuable staying handicaps in the world.
A dual-purpose racecourse, Newcastle also hosts notable races over jumps, including the Eider Chase, a stamina-sapping four-mile handicap, and the Betfair sponsored Fighting Fifth Hurdle, which has been elevated to Grade 1 status in recent times.
It is only over the last few years, however, that Newcastle has undergone its most significant change with the introduction of a tapeta track in place of its turf Flat course. This all-weather surface means Newcastle is now able to host upwards of 50 Flat meetings a year and has enhanced the importance of the racecourse to the fixture list.
A lot of the new meetings cater for lower-grade racing, but the track still retains its showpiece events - the Northumberland Plate is still as popular as ever - while the track received plenty of kudos when chosen to host the rearranged Vertem Futurity Trophy at the end of last year, which was the first Group 1 contest run on all-weather in Britain.
A training ground to the stars
Along with Kameko, the winner of the Vertem Futurity, several other horses have recorded smart performances since tapeta was first used in 2016. Unsurprisingly most of those top displays have come in the course's regular Group 3, the Chipchase Stakes, with Markaz in 2016 and Invincible Army in 2019 particularly impressive winners.
The track has also been used by some of the top Newmarket trainers to aid the development of some of their better horses. Enable (pictured) and Lord North won at the track for John Gosden, while Gronkowski particularly caught the eye with a couple of victories on his way to making up into a high-class all-weather performer.
Trainers to follow
When it comes to sheer weight of winners, Richard Fahey leads the way by a considerable margin, but he has also had the most runners.
When factoring in strike rate and profitability it is clearly significant when top Newmarket yards make trips to Gosforth Park, with the excellent John Gosden and William Haggas (pictured) possessing fantastic strike rates and also showing a level-stake profit.
While those top yards are especially adept at mopping up the maidens/minor events on offer, the northern stables get more of a look in when it comes to the handicaps and Ben Haslam and Mick Easterby have both been profitable to follow.
Top trainers (since switch to tapeta, 2016) - Profit/loss to Betfair Starting Price
Jockeys to follow
Prior to the resumption of racing, seven jockeys had racked up 40 or more winners since Newcastle switched to tapeta. Ben Curtis leads the way on 77 with an impressive profit of more than £200 to a £1 stake at Betfair Starting Price. Callum Rodriguez is also one to note when it comes to profitability and he teams up to good effect with trainers Michael Dods and Keith Dalgleish.
Top Newcastle jockeys since the switch to tapeta in 2016
Emphasis on stamina
Perhaps more significant than any available stat is the understanding of what type of horse is required to succeed at Newcastle. Indeed, in contrast to most of the other British all-weather tracks, Newcastle has a much greater emphasis on stamina.
The track is left handed and galloping in nature with the final four furlongs uphill. There is a wide-open straight which can see fields spread right across the track in a finish, and races up to a mile are uniquely run without a bend, this has made for some gruelling tests and slow-motion finishes with stamina at an absolute premium.
Hold-up horses have a considerably better record at Newcastle than any other all-weather track, to such an extent that missing the break can almost be an advantage in some situations.
Check out Betfair's video guide to Newcastle, in association with Timeform...
New on Betting.Betfair – Betslip
You can now bet without leaving Betting.Betfair with our brand new on-site betslip for Exchange markets. You'll see the Exchange back and lay prices at the end of articles - simply login and place your bets as you would do on the main Exchange site.