Mike Cattermole gives his verdict on the most important race on the Newcastle National Hunt card, live on Sky Sports Racing on Thursday at 2.48pm.
The Follow @attheraces on Twitter Handicap Chase over two and a half miles is the most expensive race on the Newcastle card and sees a quick re-emergence for Hidden Runner after his game win over the course and distance a week ago. They have a 7lb penalty to defeat.
The heaviest rain during the afternoon on Tuesday totaled 14mm with similar forecast overnight and on the day of the race itself. The current quality, good to soft in places may change to good to soft or soft during the race as it is the last race of the day.
The experienced chaser has won three times from 24 starts over fences who won a match here last March but has been kept well since then, including six months later at Ayr. They tend to be more forward-looking and are definitely better for shorter trips.
The former French chaser who teamed up with Micky Hammond at the start of the last campaign started with a convincing win just before this trip at Wetherby.
He was sent over three miles later and won again on the course when he made a late effort to win The Ferry Master in March.
He did very respectably on his latest appearance at Wetherby, over three miles, tired in the run and looking like he just needed to run. I fell in love that day, too. Back on tour but it may have a lot to offer and is very respectable.
He deserves credit for digging deep on the course and the distance a week ago when he got the better of French veteran Heroique De Maulde, the pair trailing by 11 furlongs.
He has a penalty of 7lb to beat today which is 2lb more than his new mark. Also, the ground this time will be a little softer than last week and this will make it difficult for him because he seems to be doing better on the clear words.
Da Vinci Hand
His two UK wins have both been over two miles and at Catterick, although he looks set to stay the course. It’s been since March when he had a nosebleed and is probably looking his best today.
A famous athlete who has a lot of skills and is running on his best journey.
A good second at Wetherby last January was unplaced and therefore has been relegated to the present. He returned to Wetherby for another appearance – his first for eight months – and shaped up well before fading after a second jump last time out.
Stability has been a concern of late but there have been signs that things are turning around and, yesterday at Hexham, they were back among the winners for the first time in months. With both the tour and the soft spot now in his favor, this could be the time to catch him.
The chase for him today and he has his first race since the wind operation (second) but Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore are in terrific form with many recent wins.
Last seen with a win here at the same distance on a handicap in February. He loves to run and is worthy of respect – and a bettor’s watch!
Hidden Commander did well here last week but things will be tough this time. Geryville is respected but the suspicion is that he may be a bit more qualified.
Now that Sue Smith’s team is back among the winners, the handicap is appealing Paddy Pie so choose, even though 8/1 is already gone.