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Newcastle preview: Shahbar weighted to deliver under Dettori

Shahbar looked a smart prospect when scoring last time out and can take advantage of what looks a lenient opening handicap mark to follow-up in the 1m nursery at Newcastle today (14.25).

The Marco Botti trained colt shaped with bags of promise on debut when runner-up to Gold Medallion over 6f at Leicester, travelling strongly off the pace before staying on nicely under tender handling to be beaten just 3/4 of a length.

Shahbar duly showed the benefit of that experience when going on better to land a 1m maiden at Sandown earlier in the month when only having to be shaken-up by jockey Frankie Dettori to score by 1/2 a length.

The well-bred son of Champs Elysees still showed distinct signs of greenness, but was only just doing enough and value for more than the winning margin.

That effort suggested there was plenty of improvement left in the locker, and Shahbar looks the type who will benefit from the fitting of the cheekpieces for the first time.

It also looks significant that Dettori makes a rare trip to Newcastle for just the one ride, and an opening mark of 82 could well underestimate Shahbar’s ability.

In the 1m claimer (13.50), Exclusive Waters is a fascinating contender now reunited with jockey Robert Winston at a track he runs well.

The Tracy Waggott trained gelding has won two of his five starts at the venue, and in the last of those stayed on strongly to score by 3 3/4 lengths in the hands of Winston off a mark of 58.

Exclusive Waters on to finish an excellent one length runner-up at this track two starts later in a class 5 handicap off 66, and now drops back into claiming company off 1lb lower.

Winston is also now back in saddle for the first time in six starts, and he has partnered Exclusive Waters to his last two successes which both come at this venue.

His booking suggests connections are expecting a big run as he has a strike rate of just over 23 per cent when teaming up with the yard in the past 12 months.

Selections:
12.45: Dark Devil
13.15: St Andrews
13.50: Exclusive Waters (NB)
14.25: Shahbar (NAP)
15.00: Pageant Belle
15.35: Bohemian Rhapsody
16.10: Stags Leap
16.40: Buccaneers Vault