Racing's back: runners, cards, key stats and tips for Newcastle on Monday
Horseracing returns in Britain at Newcastle on Monday, following a 75-day shutdown of the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Newcastle plays host to the start of the new Flat season as the week gears up towards the Qipco 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas on ITV at the weekend. The Racing Post has you covered for racing's first day back with a guide to every race and the best bets.
The day begins with a wide-open mile handicap featuring many seasoned performers but the market is headed by those less exposed. The favourite Stone Mason is making his first start for Mick Appleby, who has a great record with runners making their first start for the stable.
One to watch: Heavenly Tale cost 140,000gns as a yearling but never lived up to her potential in three starts. Interesting on first start for Tristan Davidson.
This mile handicap for four-year-olds and over is centred around the odds-on favourite Mutasaamy. Plenty of his rivals have good recent runs so it looks an interesting contest, with a few appealing as well handicapped.
One to watch: Mutasaamy. He looked seriously impressive when striking at Kempton in August and can defy an 8lb handicap hike. Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's retained jockey Jim Crowley rides, which is a further boost.
The six-furlong novice event is one of the day's most intriguing races with three winners facing off. Newcomers Blazing Hot and Freedom Flyer have good pedigrees and have made the trip from Newmarket.
One to watch: Freedom Flyer is of interest. His dam was useful over sprint distances and Simon and Ed Crisford's runner could begin his career with a win.
This is the second division of the six-furlong novice stakes and, on quality, looks the superior race. The bookmakers expect it to be between Magical Journey and Art Power, and both looked smart when winning as juveniles. The newcomers are have smart pedigrees but the top two have quality form already.
One to watch: He may be a big price but James Given's debutant Manumission is related to some quality sprinters and could prove a useful sort. Art Power would be the main selection.
A competitive sprint where you can make a case for plenty. This handicap pits the consistent Tricky Dicky, Tathmeen and Heath Charnock against each other. Finding the winner will not be easy.
One to watch: Heath Charnock has been sent off favourite on his last two starts. He placed on both occasions but perhaps improvement is expected from the Michael Dods-trained runner.
This is a contest for three-year-old handicappers over six furlongs and plenty of the top northern yards are represented. The top two in the betting – Oakenshield and Rock Of Diamonds – have similar profiles, with two decent runs in defeat last season. They will need to step up as a few of these are last-time-out winners.
One to watch: Written Broadcast had a busy campaign when trained by Richard Hannon last season. He never built on his early promise but perhaps the switch to Jedd O'Keeffe's yard can spark a revival.
If you're looking for just one race to bet on, go for this one. Five of the 12 runners are single-figure odds and even the rank outsider is a 16-1 chance. This five-furlong handicap is going to be tricky to solve but will give you some thrill if you back the winner.
One to watch: Danny Tudhope is an interesting booking for Be Proud. He was victorious the last time he rode him and Jim Goldie's runner was in fine form throughout the winter.
The big race of the day is this quality handicap over a mile and four and a half furlongs. The race sees runners from the John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute yards clash against some of the top northern stables. This could be a springboard for progressive handicappers.
One to watch: Alignak. Sir Michael Stoute has an eyecatching 37 per cent strike-rate with his runners at Newcastle and this progressive youngster looks the type to thrive in his four-year-old season.
There is a fair chance that this field contains a few top middle-distance prospects with plenty of well-bred types seeking a first career victory. Frankly Darling from the John Gosden stable is the one to beat after a very promising second at York in October.
One to watch: Mark Johnston could have a decent prospect on his hands with Dream With Me. He is a son of Frankel and a half-sister to Rain Goddess, who was second to Enable in the 2017 Irish Oaks.
The second division of the mile-and-a-quarter maiden looks every bit as good with plenty of similarly well-bred types out to break their ducks. Once again, John Gosden's runner Byzantine Empire brings the best form to the table, although he will need to prove his latest run was just a hiccup.
One to watch: Costing $2,000,000 and being a full sister to three-time Group 1 winner Alice Springs, there will be plenty expecting big things from Luck On Sunday on debut. She is definitely worth a watch.
How can I bet?
Betting shops remain closed under the current lockdown restrictions – it is hoped they will open on June 15, the day before Royal Ascot – but it is still easy to bet online with your chosen bookmaker.
You can also place a bet directly when studying the form on our website or app. You can securely log in to your account with any of the major bookmakers and place your bet from the racecard.
If you aren't registered it is easy to create an account, and take advantage of sign-up offers, just click here.
The trainers and jockeys to watch
Prior to racing's shutdown, jockey Ben Curtis was in flying form at Newcastle with 16 winners and a 29 per cent strike-rate. Danny Tudhope is another rider to note as he had a 24 per cent strike-rate at the track last season.
Trainers David Barron, Richard Fahey and Antony Brittain all kicked off 2020 in fine style but it is the John Gosden-trained runners who are always worth watching. He has an impressive 36 per cent strike-rate at Newcastle.
The Racing Post newspaper will be back in shops to mark the return of British racing on Monday, June 1! With extensive coverage of all the racing, interviews with the biggest names, tipping from our renowned experts, writing from the likes of Alastair Down and all the cards and form, it's your unmissable guide to all the action. Pick up your copy on Monday.