Racing returns with a 0-65 mile handicap at Newcastle and while most of the field here are well exposed, the two interesting ones are the handicap debutants Stone Mason and Heavenly Tale. Heavenly Tale cost 140,000 guineas as a yearling and ran three times in maidens for Ralph Beckett. Second on debut at Lingfield, that race hasn’t worked out particularly well and he was disappointing on his two subsequent starts.
He has since switched yards, leaving Beckett for Tristan Davison for just 10,000 guineas but Davison is a very shrewd operator, particularly with horses acquired from other yards. He managed to have four individual winners from just twelve horses that ran on the flat for him last season. He has an overall strike rate of 20% and his record at Newcastle is 4-19 (21%) while another six hit the places – that is a strike-rate of nearly 53%. Another interesting stat is that Phil Dennis is 5-10 (50%) when riding for Davison.
Heavenly Tale starts off in handicaps here off a mark of 63 and he looks sure to give us a run for our money.
Mutassamy ran no better than ok in his three maidens, all over a mile. He was gelded prior to his handicap debut off a mark of 69 at Haydock and ran well when beaten a length in second behind Mayfair Spirit. That race has worked out relatively well, with the winner, third and sixth all winning races since.
Mutassamy went up a pound to a mark of 70 for his second handicap start at Kempton and was extremely impressive when winning by nearly three lengths and the time was fairly good for the grade also. The race has worked out very nicely, with the second, fourth, fifth and seventh all winning races since, and, while Mutasaamy has gone up eight pounds to a mark of 78, he looks well capable of defying the rise.
December Second was a very useful performer in bumpers in 2018, winning at Ayr and Huntingdon, either side of a creditable sixth in the Punchestown Champion Bumper where he was only beaten six lengths. The likes of Colreevy, Abacadabras, Beacon Edge, Embittered and Santa Rossa were ahead of him, so it was a very decent renewal of the race. December Second has since been campaigned on the flat, finishing second in three starts in useful maidens at Goodwood, Doncaster and Hamilton.
He made his handicap debut off a mark of 82 at Haydock over just short of a mile and a half and was impressive in winning easily by five lengths. He has gone up ten pounds to a mark of 92 but the form he showed in bumpers suggests he could well be able to be competitive off his revised mark.
Paddy is paying four places on this race and December Second looks a decent each-way bet here.