They’re under starters orders, and finally the Turf campaign of 2020 is off! It feels a lot longer than 18 March since we had any horse racing here in the UK, just over 10 weeks, but we are back racing and this week there is a bucket load to get your teeth into should you wish. We can’t go but the main channels of Sky Racing and Racing UK will naturally be busy, and ITV Racing will be showing 21 live races over next Friday, Saturday and Sunday's Group 1 cards.
Newcastle has the honour of hosting the first meeting with TEN-race card at High Gosforth Park on Monday afternoon. A big card on the all-weather Tapeta track might not be to everyone's taste, and it won’t float the boat of many, but it is a mere aperitif to some of the action this week and a busy start to the 2020 Pattern schedule as the black type races come thick and fast as the week goes on.
Connections have greeted the return of British racing at Newcastle on Monday with enthusiasm as 369 horses were entered for the fixture. That of course has been whittled down to 120 declarations made on Friday morning with the limit on field sizes at this time. They get underway Monday at 1.00 with the 1m Brenkley Handicap. The action will be live on Sky Sports Racing.
Punting is likely to be a bit if a minefield with no real form to go on for the last couple of months so don’t expect half a dozen tips a day from me just yet; I will though be getting involved naturally if I spot one that stands out.
As for the first day back Mutasaamy caught my eye in the plethora of entries for the 1m Burradon Handicap at 1.30 but the bookies aint taking any chances as he is best priced 4-5. Jim Crowley rides the Hamdan Al Maktoum owned Roger Varian trained four-year-old who has slowly improved getting off the mark when last seen all the way back in August; winning a similar event off an 8lb lower mark that he has for this. He has had wind surgery and been gelded in his lightly raced career so clearly connections have always thought some talent was there to persevere. If he has improved for a nice long break he will take all the beating in this.
They continue to race on some tracks in France, Longchamp perhaps the biggest name that was opened only to be shut again, and it is the French Guineas on Monday at Deauville.
The Group One 1m Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains is up first a 2.50. I tipped Victor Ludorum in his trial and he was clearly in need of the run after the enforced break as many of those trained by Fabre have done. I t will have blown away the cobwebs and I remain convinced he is a lot better than the fading third he was that day. I have the 2-1 that he can get back to winning ways.
At 3.25 the fillies line-up for the Group One Emirates Poule d'Essai des Pouliches. I tipped Tropbeau for her trial and, unlike stablemate Victor Ludorum, she looked decent winning the G.3 Prix de la Grotte going between horses and not exactly hard ridden. If she has come on for the run she looks a solid bet at 9-4 to my eyes.