Excitement builds as racing counts down to first race at Newcastle
The wait is finally over. British racing makes its eagerly anticipated return with a ten-race card on the all-weather at Newcastle today.
Excitement is already building for the first race (1.00) and a number of racing figures have gone on the airwaves this morning, including champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who is raring to get started.
"It's time to return and I really feel we can come back in a safe way in a way the public can be proud of," Murphy told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Physically most of us are very close to 100 per cent but the mental sharpness will only come after a few weeks with some practice. I'm hoping to be at my best for the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday.
"I've never ridden behind closed doors but when you're under pressure at a big meeting you tend to block the noise out anyway. It might be different for Frankie Dettori but I'll survive no problem."
Early market movers
Freedom Flyer (2.10) 9-4 (from 4-1)
Brian The Snail (3.20) 6-1 (from 8-1)
Be Proud (4.30) 10-3 (from 11-2)
Thibaan (5.40) 5-2 (from 9-2)
Bookmakers are expecting a lively day of trade on a momentous day for the sport in Britain after an extended spell on the sidelines.
"We're busy and tipping away but it's not crazy," said Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield. "We expect it to get much busier, especially as Newcastle have produced a competitive ten-race card.
"As a racing enthusiast, who’s extremely mindful of the current situation, it’s absolutely superb to get some domestic action after a more than two-month break under the strictest safety guidelines.
“It looks a marvellous card for punters to get their teeth stuck into and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Frankly Darling gets on in the 5.40 – she did have an entry in the 1,000 Guineas and the dogs in Newmarket have been barking recently."
That excitement was shared by Betfair's Barry Orr, who said: "The markets have been really lively this morning with volume and turnover ahead of what you'd expect for a Monday at Newcastle.
"Add a quality French card at Deauville and today has the making of a truly explosive day to get racing back up and running."
David Carr live from Newcastle
What is the worry about a little bit of queuing when you are entering the promised land after 75 days in the wilderness? None were complaining when they had to be checked in on arrival at Newcastle for the first day's racing in Britain since March 17.
Nor was it just the sun beaming as you arrived at the testing centre, got out to show your passport, answer a few medical questions and have your temperature taken.
This is a happy Monday for racing, its legions of supporters and the thousands up thousand who depend upon it for their livelihood.
The champion jockey Oisin Murphy is in action this afternoon and champion trainer John Gosden has runners on a track where his superstars Enable and Stradivarius gained their first wins.
Sadly there will be no owners, punters or bookies at a meeting run under strict public health guidelines, with social distancing enforced and face masks very much in evidence.
But this is the start of a hugely important time for racing, with the 2,000 Guineas coming up in just five days and Royal Ascot round the corner. We're back!
The new-look 72-hour declarations mean prices have been available since Friday and there has been major support in the opener for Stone Mason, who is trained by all-weather specialist Mick Appleby.
There are ten races to look forward to at the behind-closed-doors meeting and after a dry spell, the going is described as standard to slow. The weather is set to be overcast with sunny spells.
There is another warm order in the second race (1.35) with the Roger Varian-trained favourite Mutasaamy, winner of a Kempton handicap last August, as short as 5-6 with some firms.
The 1m4½f Betway Handicap (5.05) appears to be the most competitive race on the card and there is little to split Alignak and course-and-distance winner Ice Pyramid at the top of the market.
Latest forecast @NewcastleRaces suggests a pleasant day with temps around 18c on Mon 1st June. Given prolonged dry & relatively warm temperatures the course will ride on the slow side. A moderate wind to assist runners. #racingsback @SkySportsRacing @AtTheRaces @TPDZone @betway pic.twitter.com/BRxgY2bnfe— James Armstrong (@JRFArmstrong) May 31, 2020
There is also top-class action to look forward to at Deauville with the first French Classic of the season, the Group 1 Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains (2.50). The market is headed by the Godolphin-owned Victor Ludorum, beaten on his comeback last month.
That race is followed by the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (3.25), the equivalent of the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, and the market bills it as a duel between Group 2 winner Tropbeau and Simeen.
The Racing Post newspaper is 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 today.