5:05 Newcastle (20th April) - Result

An EBF Novice Stakes over 5f.

It's a shame to see a couple of non runners, which would have added a little more depth to this fascinating race. Three winners Hamza, Lily's Angel & Marford Missile all strive to remain unbeaten.

Hamza was well backed on debut when winning at Musselburgh. This bonny colt ran to the line and looks an exuberant character. It is promising that Ryan's juvenile won on debut because that is often a good sign there is more to come. It is never easy to assess what a winner can achieve - some fall by the way while others reach for the stars. There was much to like about that initial performance, which didn't lack in any way.

Richard Fahey has a strong hand with his juveniles and Lily's Angel upset favourites backers when she beat stablemate One Kool Dude at Beverley. Middleham Park Racing were quoted on Twitter as saying there was little between the pair and Hanagan had gone with the favourite simply because it had experience under his belt. Lily's Angel was very well backed that day, which clearly adds to those thoughts. She ran a nice race, pulling clear of the field. One Kool Dude has run creditably since, finishing third. This daughter of Dark Angel certainly has room for improvement. Although difficult to assess what level she may attain, she equally has claims.

Marford Missile is the weakest of the four runners in the betting. Dascombe has started this season in a much more promising manner than last and that bodes well. This son of Majestic Missile was relatively weak in the betting early morning on the day of his win but was well supported just before the off. That was a small field, which on the face of it didn't look the strongest of races and many considered the fast-finishing Shevington an unlucky loser, after a slow start, he ran on will zeal. Richard Fahey must have a fair idea of where he stands with this youngster. The betting is generally a very good guide to chances of Dascombe's runners and the weakness in the market is a concern.

One of the most interesting runners in the field is Stonefield Flyer who finished second to Hamza on debut. Being beaten by a number of lengths, he would seem to have his work cut out to reverse those placings but more can be expected from Keith Dalgleish's colt. This juvenile was a handful in the paddock and unshipped his replacement jockey a couple of times that day. It was also interesting that Fallon was originally booked to ride but didn't get to the track in time because of traffic problems. In the race, this son of Kheleyf was slowly away and then made up ground when asked a question but was short of room before chasing Hamza in the final furlong. With experience, Dalgleish's two year old could find improvement. However, whether he is able to catch his nemesis is a matter for debate.

An intriguing race but a difficult one to call. It is never easy to assess the potential of a winner or appreciate the form lines of early-season races. At the prices, there is nothing tempting as a betting proposition and for that reason a watching brief.

HCE: ''Hamza was withdrawn after getting unsettled in the stalls. Thankfully he was none the worse for what could have been a nasty incident. A three-horse race that was soon a match between Lily's Angel and Stonefield Flyer after Marford Missile couldn't live with the pace. This was a battle to the line and Lily's Angel prevailed to make it two wins from two.''

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