2.30 Newcastle: the one race you cannot afford to miss on Wednesday
Betway Conditions Stakes (All-Weather Championships Fast-Track Qualifier) (Class 2) | 5f | 4yo+ | Sky
A fascinating qualifier for All-Weather Finals Day at Lingfield in April pits established sprinters in the shape of Royal Birth and Corinthia Knight - who won on Finals Day in 2018 – against less-exposed improvers such as Good Effort, Lomu and Hareem Queen.
Official ratings give the edge to Corinthia Knight and Royal Birth, although not by much and the obvious question is: do they retain enough ability to repel the challenge of fresher rivals?
Recent evidence suggests probably not. They come into the race after a string of defeats and were both found wanting behind Summerghand in a similar race to this at Wolverhampton over Christmas.
Good Effort looks particularly interesting, with the recent fitting of cheekpieces having clearly made a difference. At these weights he’s entitled to reverse form with admirable veteran Watchable, who held him off by half a length at this track in November, and Good Effort has since bolted up on the Polytrack at Deauville.
Watchable's prospects may also be compromised this time by likely competition for the lead from the intriguing Hareem Queen, who was denied a hat-trick on her latest start by Tawny Port, who has since followed up.
What do the stats say?
Watchable may be the oldest in the field at ten but he has a fine record at Newcastle, finishing outside the first three only once on four previous visits to the track, including a third in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes in 2016.
Corinthia Knight may be a veteran of 43 races but has only been to Newcastle once before when victorious over course and distance in 2018.
What do connections say?
Hollie Doyle, rider of Corinthia Knight
He's been having a tough task recently running off top weights but he's still been running his race. Hopefully in a conditions race and on a straight track, this is going to suit him. He's getting older but I do think he'll appreciate this track.
Ben Curtis, rider of Good Effort
I rode him two starts ago at Newcastle and thought he'd come on a ton for it. He loves the course and the distance and I think he's an improving horse and better than his rating. I wouldn't swap him for anything else and have always thought he'd be a lovely horse over five furlongs.
Iain Jardine, trainer of Lomu
I think he relies on a strong pace to aim at, which you are generally guaranteed in a five-furlong race. This is obviously tougher and he will be wrong at the weights with a few of them, but he is going the right way which can be important in races like this. I think he is capable of running a big race and it would be great if we could get him to Lingfield on Good Friday.
David O'Meara, trainer of Watchable
He got behind at Chelmsford in the kickback last time but he loves it at Newcastle and I think he'll be competitive again. He had a great 2019, winning five times and is just a great old horse.
Karl Burke, trainer of Hareem Queen
She's very useful on the Fibresand surface at Southwell but I don't see any reason why she won't reproduce her Southwell runs at Newcastle. She's very quick and, while it's not always easy for a filly to take on the males, she gets a nice sex allowance and I think she'll run a big race.
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