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Wednesday 1 March 2017

7.30 Newcastle, Wednesday, March 1

The Betway Handicap (7.30) at Newcastle on Wednesday is a competitive, albeit fairly low grade, contest, in which it’s difficult to write off any of the 17 runners with any degree of confidence. As usual, we’ve highlighted a few we believe could belie generous starting prices.

The Hooded Claw returns from an absence of 107 days and hasn’t won since May 2014, during his first spell with Tim Easterby. However, the Dandy Man gelding has dropped down the weights and ran his best race for some time when dropped in 0-75 company for his Tapeta debut on this course in November. On that occasion he ran on to finish fourth, beaten two necks and a nose and, although no better off with the second, Dark Side Dream, may be capable of building on that effort.

Meshardal hasn’t been seen in public since September and is another who’s on a long losing run, but last won a 0-85 contest, off a mark of 85, in June 2015. Ruth Carr’s 7-year-old has troubled the judge just once in 17 starts since, but he’s ludicrously well handicapped on his best form, off a mark of 71, and the switch to Tapeta at this late stage might just rekindle his enthusiasm.

Nottinghamshire trainer Roy Bowring doesn’t have many horses, but his 6-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding Foolaad has run well on both starts over a mile on Tapeta, without really getting home, and may be ready for a return to the winners’ enclosure now that he drops back to 6 furlongs. John Egan, who’s 2-4 for the yard on the all-weather, takes over from 7lb claimer Kevin Lundie, which is another encouraging sign.

Selections: Newcastle 7.30 The Hooded Claw, Meshardal, Foolaad

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