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Newcastle best bet (1620): Ballyquin Bay lined up for maiden success over longer trip

With all eyes on next week’s Cheltenham Festival, top-quality jumps races are few and far between, but this handicap hurdle could provide some thrills and spills for Newcastle’s race-goers to enjoy.

16:20 Newcastle: Vickers.Bet and LHS Champion Racing Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (2½ miles)

A recent switch to handicapping appears to have brought the best out of Glory Hights, who finished a close-up second over this course and distance in January, before confirming his progress with a decent third of 11 last time out five weeks ago (10 lengths clear of the reopposing Scalloway Bay in fourth).

Chris Grant’s eight-year-old should go well again off an unchanged mark under Danny McMenamin, but his short price opens up the market for better potential value elsewhere.

Top weight Ballyvaughan Bay gave a good account of himself when third of nine in heavy ground at Lingfield 12 days ago, but it might be asking too much to lug 12 stone around in heavy conditions on his handicap debut.

Much better treated at a similar price is his almost-namesake Ballyquin Bay, who showed some early promise as a maiden hurdler for Gordon Elliott before coming under the wing of Alison Hamilton last summer.

Although yet to pay a visit to the winner’s enclosure, this capable six year-old has made the frame on each of his last three starts, including over a shorter trip at this venue just before Christmas.

The jury is still out regarding just what is his optimum trip, and after a couple of recent two-mile efforts, he steps back up to 20 furlongs here under three pounds of relief from the handicapper, and he is definitely a player for at least another frame finish in this company.

Suggested best bet: Ballyquin Bay in the 16:20 at Newcastle



READ MORE: Newcastle racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday March 5

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