FANSHAWE STAYER ON THE FAST TRACK
James Fanshawe’s smart stayer STAR STORM can clinch his place in the Marathon Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday by winning the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle on Wednesday (2.00) – a Fast Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Championship.
Top rated on a mark of 107, the son of Sea The Stars will be hard to beat if able to re-produce his close second to Pattern performer Western Hymn in the Listed Wildflower Stakes at Kempton last month.
On the face of it, he was disappointing when a beaten favourite in another Listed contest at the Sunbury track last time, but that race was run at a muddling pace (over 3 secs slower than the Wildflower) and Star Storm didn’t enjoy a smooth passage.
Steve Rogers is another who brings solid Kempton form to the party, though it’s worth noting that he was beaten by another Fanshawe horse, Higher Power, and is 9lb wrong with my selection on Wednesday’s terms.
Godolphin’s Winning Story - just behind Steve Rogers in that handicap - stays well and wouldn’t have been suited by another slowly run race at Wolverhampton earlier this month. Lightly raced, he looks capable of better but is another who needs a clear career best to win this.
Mark Johnston would have had a strong claim with Wolverhampton winner Watersmeet but chooses to go with Oriental Fox instead. The eight-year-old won’t be found wanting for a lack of stamina but was well adrift of Steve Rogers and Winning Story at Kempton.
MIDGLEY SPRINTER LOOKS THE VALUE
Paul Midgley’s smart sprinter LINE OF REASON is a fascinating contender for the Betway Sprint Handicap (4.30) at Newcastle on Wednesday. A Listed winner on turf, the six-year-old was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Prix l’Abbaye in October and made the frame in both of his most recent handicap starts in valuable races at York and Ascot.
What’s more, Line Of Reason enjoys a significant turn-around at the weights with the classy Caspian Prince, who beat him in a conditions race at Beverley in September. Despite giving Caspian Prince 3lb that day, Midgley’s charge finished strongly after being short of room at a vital stage and renews rivalry on 11lb better terms at Newcastle.
Line Of Reason also has some smart All-Weather form on his CV, having finished little more than a length behind Lightscameraction in the Listed Hever Stakes at Lingfield last winter.
This stiff 5f holds no perils for the son of Kheleyf, who won over 6f at Pontefract in 2013, and he can prove too good for the in-form Caspian Prince on these terms. Roger Fell’s star broke the track record in a Listed event at Dundalk last time but will have to pull out all the stops to follow up.
Another key player is the speedy Gracious John, who looked back to his best under John Egan at Lingfield last time. He does have a tendency to hang, however, and might not be the easiest of rides for inexperienced 7lb claimer Katherine Glenister.
NOSEDA MILER CAN STRENGTHEN REPUTATION
KEYSTROKE, a leading long-range contender for the £150,000 Mile Final on Good Friday, can strengthen his position with victory in the mile sunbets.co.uk Handicap (1.30) at Newcastle on Wednesday.
Winner of last season’s valuable Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton, Jeremy Noseda’s four-year-old followed up at the West Midlands track last month in a race that has worked out well.
The runner-up Mythical Madness went on to win a valuable prize next time and is considered by his trainer David O’Meara to be good enough to contest the Winter Derby and Coral Easter Classic.
Noseda’s son of Pivotal, who is two from three on synthetics, looks capable of giving weight and a beating to all his rivals off a workable mark of 95 on a track that should suit, en route to another crack at the Lincoln Trial and the Good Friday showpiece.
Fuwairt, one of four runners in the race for Roger Fell, rates a danger. He was doing all his best work in the closing stages when chasing home the much-improved Steel Train in a hot 7f handicap at Gosforth Park earlier this month but does have a 3lb rise to overcome against a progressive rival.
NEWCASTLE WEDNESDAY SELECTIONS
1.30 KEYSTROKE (Nap)
2.00 STAR STORM
4.30 LINE OF REASON (ew)