The historic Northumberland Plate takes place on Saturday in front of a capacity crowd at Gosforth Park, and the £150,000 event has once again attracted a full field of 20 runners, albeit last year’s winner Withhold has been taken out.
Runners with a variety of profiles are entered here and, on the numbers, this has proven to be just about the most competitive handicap we’ve reviewed on the flat so far this season. That said, we do have a top six for you to peruse beginning with an improving type with course form:
A fascinating contender from the Charlie Hills yard, one who is sure to improve given his overall profile. A win on today’s Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton was followed by a fine runner-up effort behind the very well-handicapped King’s Advice (he re-opposes here) before a win on this course followed in April.
He has been kept off the track since then with this day in mind, and while his previous form has been over a mile-and-a-half his entry in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup would be a pointer not only towards his potential ability, but also his staying power.
Off the track for over a year, local trainer Karen McLintock has laid her six-year-old gelding out for this race rather than take in a prep and that screams of a trainer who thinks her charge would have won and ruined his handicap mark.
Third at this course over 2 miles last spring and second in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting, Dubawi Fifty has the form in the bag and should be very dangerous under all-weather specialist Luke Morris.
The big gamble of the week, Gibbs Hill has been off the track for two years but has clearly retained his ability and he was a fast-improving sort before his injury.
He needs to prove his stamina of course and there’s plenty of that in his pedigree, but we can never be sure what to expect from a horse coming back after such a long lay-off and jockey Andrea Atzeni appears to know very little about his ride.
Thought of as a potential classic type when scooting clear at Haydock last spring, Tom Dascombe’s gelding went on to be a decent staying three-year-old and peaked when chasing home Ghostwatch over 1m6f in the Melrose Handicap at York.
He’s taken part in the right races this season and was third behind Red Galileo and Speedo Boy last time, a key piece of form in regards to this event, while he also seems to be steadily improving and so could be hard to keep out of the first four or five.
There has been some strong money for Ian Williams’ runner during the week, another horse representing the Newmarket form along with Red Galileo and Proschema.
He is no doubt expected to come on again and he seems weighted well enough, he handles this sort of surface and shouldn’t be too inconvenienced by his draw in stall 13 so all in all appears to have a fairly solid each-way chance.
Who Dares Wins
Alan King clearly knows the time of day with these staying types and this seven-year-old has been kept off the track since the Chester Cup in which he chased home Making Miracles in second place.
That was basically about his best form and so to go on and win this he would probably need to take a step forward, something that is not guaranteed given the mileage he has on the clock, though his profile is attractive for this event and he is drawn well.
Tom Dascombe’s Proschema has a very good profile and may have gone even closer to being the final selection had he been drawn a little closer to the rail, while Gibbs Hill will not have been gambled on so heavily for no reason and if he can pick up where he left off will have an obvious chance.
Much more solid though on all known evidence is Charlie Hills’ BARTHOLOMEU DIAS who seems sure to improve for time and for this trip, has a good stall, good course form and who will be nice and fresh ready to peak at the right time. He gets the nod under Kieran Shoemark at around 14/1.