Fewest questions to answer
Newcastle 14:00: Rann Of Kutch 1pt win 11/2
There won’t be many weaker races this year than the 2m handicap chase at Newcastle, following the initial front pair in the market becoming non-runners this morning. That has left Tortuga Bay, a horse whose last two runs have resulted in a 49-length defeat and being pulled up, as the favourite.
It’s possible that the quicker ground will suit him but he’s now stopped very quickly twice in a row, while Acdc has to show that he can handle this shorter trip. Istimraar drops back to a trip that he was a regular over until the summer of last year. I think he’s looked a horse who struggles as soon as he comes out of his comfort zone and the slower tempo of races over further has suited him as he’s been able to comfortably go that pace.
While there are no obvious front runners in here, I expect Acdc will be sent forward coming down in trip while Tortuga Bay and Indian Voyage can both be ridden handily. Those getting into a battle up front would suit Istimraar but there’s another horse who it will suit who is coming into this race on the back of the best run of her career.
Rann Of Kutch was racing from 12lb out of the handicap at Wetherby on her chasing debut. Held up at the back of the field early on, she was hesitant at the first two fences but her jumping warmed up after that. She continued to race at the back of the fairly tightly-packed field and was in a share of last turning out of the back straight.
She started to make some headway on the final bend and was still travelling well when jumping 4 out just over a couple of lengths behind the leader. She came under pressure after and kept responding well, without ever quite challenging the leaders, before fading about halfway up the run in to be beaten 7¾ lengths in fourth.
That was the first time that she’s shown any ability and it was a promising run in the context of today’s race. Her jumping should be slicker from the off today and the runner up from that race, Silken Moonlight, was favourite for this race before being taken out this morning. Despite being 4lb out of the handicap today, she will effectively race off a 4lb lower mark than at Wetherby too.
As that was the first time she’s shown anything, Rann Of Kutch does have to prove that she can back it up and I thought she was racing a shade awkwardly under pressure, appearing to look to want to lug left.
Despite those concerns, she has an appealing profile in the context of being up against this bunch and anything 4/1 or bigger appeals.