The Northumberland Plate is the Saturday centrepiece, a rich handicap that always attracts a high-class field. Roger Charlton saddled last season’s winner and Seymour Biz reckons he can do so again, with the very same horse! As usual, he provides you with 4 great tips for your weekend Lucky 15 wager. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
The television cameras move a little further up the country this week after the Ascot-fest to prove there is life north of Watford. Eyes will mainly be across the water at the Curragh for the Irish Derby to see if Anthony Van Dyck can do the double, he does not seem to have a lot of opposition and I would expect him to score if he shows the sort of form he did at Epsom. As to racing in the UK, three meetings are covered Newmarket, York and Newcastle with the latter being far the most prodigious as it has on the card the Pitman’s Derby, the Northumberland Plate. York’s big handicap features several of the contenders from the Wokingham at Ascot vying for this valuable prize. So I have concentrated on the handicaps in the televised races as they seem to offer the best value and I’ve looked at those below.
The Sun Racing Handicap is the feature race at York at 2.45 and Richard Fahey certainly has a strong hand here with five runners, George Bowen, Great Prospector, Growl, Ventura Ocean and Paddy Power. The best of these is probably George Bowen but he has top weight after running in Listed company and has not won on turf since last July. Growl is interesting, he was a fine horse as a 4-year-old and has shown recently some of that old sparkle. Several of these runners ran in the Wokingham and the one I like the look of is Intisaab trained by David O’ Meara. He was beaten only 5 lengths and was given an easy run after the winner had flown. Down at the bottom of the handicap is Michael Easterby’s Quick Look, a winner at Chester last time, however he is stepping up class and will hate the ground. That said he may well still run into a place at a nice price.
Moving north to the big meeting at Newcastle, the first race on the card is the Betfair Exchange Handicap at 1.50. This 6 furlong sprint on the all-weather has attracted a decent field especially the bookies choice Air Raid. Jedd O’Keeffe’s gelding has won twice already this month at Hamilton, winning easily. But he has never won on the all-weather and is stepping up in class here. Nick Vedder is a dual course and distance winner but Michael Wigham’s gelding is another stepping up in class. Dalton won last time out and Julie Camacho is sending him here to see how he goes on a different surface. Tim Easterby’s Staxton comes here as a Class 2 winner at Newmarket and should go well. But my choice here is Richard Fahey’s Cosmic Law, he was only beaten two lengths at York last time but he is a Group 2 winner on soft at Epsom. He has been highly tried in Listed races and fully deserves a contest such as this.
At 3.00 we have the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Vase Handicap, which is a consolation race for the Northumberland Plate, and this looks as competitive affair as the big race itself. Alan King has Coeur De Lion entered, a winner at at Chester on his penultimate outing he then went for the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting finishing a creditable fifth. The handicapper may have his measure now. Theglasgowwarrior is a course winner and his form earlier in the season was excellent but after being tried in a higher class of contest he has been unsuccessful. Canford Heights looks interesting, William Haggas sends him here after his seasonal debut on the all-weather at Kempton where he hung left handed, but his win at Haydock last September over 1m6f was a fine effort. But the one I particularly like in Carnwennan trained by Charlie Fellowes. He comes here looking for his hat trick after wins at York and on the all-weather at Chelmsford. He is one of the few in this race who is tried and tested over the distance and I just give him the nod over Canford Heights.
So we come to the big race itself at 3.35, the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Plate Handicap also known as the Pitmans Derby. There is a hot favourite for this trained by Roger Varian, Gibbs Hill, who seems to be being punted after Varian sent out Cape Byron to win the Wokingham so easily. But Gibbs Hill has not seen a racecourse for two years after winning at Kempton in July 2017. Add to that the grey has never run over a distance like this, he must have had his problems and it would be some training achievement to get him ready for this. His price makes him very restrictive in terms of value so I will look elsewhere. Willie Mullins sends Stratum over from Ireland, he won at Ballinrobe over this distance in a hurdle race but he will find a different class of contestant here. Ian Williams has Time To Study at the bottom of the handicap, his latest run was a fine third in the Ascot Stakes so he must have a good chance. But the one I particularly like is Roger Charlton’s Withhold, last year’s winner. He went down-under to run in the Melbourne Cup but broke a blood vessel in a prep race in Geelong so putting paid to his chance in the big one. If Charlton considers he is fit enough to take his chance here once again, I will take that as a big hint, he has a major chance once again.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.45 York. Intisaab
1.50 Newcastle. Cosmic Law
3.00 Newcastle. Carnwennan
3.35 Newcastle. Withhold