Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Northumberland Plate

Weather permitting, 'The Pitmen's Derby' will be run at Newcastle this Saturday with a guaranteed maximum field of twenty runners. The ground is already riding soft, and there's more rain forecast, so the selection will need to stay every yard of the two mile trip to be in with any chance whatsoever.

Going through the runners earlier in the week I came up with a shorlist of three for what is traditionally a very competitive handicap; luck in running can play a big part in this race. The three are Sentry Duty, Irish raider Al Eile and the filly Juniper Girl who finished second to Full House at Ascot last week.

Jumping yards have a good record in this race. Nicky Henderson's Sentry Duty is respected but has a tough task carrying top weight. Al Eile finished fourth in the 2006 Champion Hurdle behind Brave Inca before going right out of form. However he bounced back this April winning The Aintree Hurdle, with his trainer declaring after the race that a big handicap on the Flat was a possible target over the summer. This looks the race he's been laid out for and in my opinion he's not badly handicapped. Backed at 12/1 on Tuesday and now trading at around 8/1, he goes on the ground and also has the benefit of an inside draw which has been important in this race in the past, barring last year that is.
I looked long and hard at Juniper Girl who has been allocated 9-2 and claimer Luke Morris takes off a handy looking 5lbs but the draw in berth 13 is potentially troublesome and the same comment applies to Nosferatu, the likely favourite, drawn in berth 16. Al Eile is the selection.

A car load of colleagues travel up to Newcastle tomorrow to go to this meeting - two each way longshots I've whispered quietly to the more reckless characters are Rising Shadow in the first and Protector (2.45) who was mentioned by Angus Loughran when running a decent race at 50/1 in the Wokingham last Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Thanks GeeDee for the 12-1 shot Protecter. What a winners . he won by miles.


GeeDee said...

Al Eile (11/2) ran a creditable race to finish fourth but really had no answer to the finishing kick shown by the leading three with Juniper Girl (5/1) winning by the shortest of short heads in a thrilling finish.
When I tipped Rising Shadow each way (writing on the Thursday evening), the Sporting Life tissue quoted the horse at 10/1 so I really didn't expect to see him start the 5/2 favourite. He ran his race but wasn't good enough, finishing fourth behind 12/1 winner Confuchias. I saw something in this race I've never seen before - the stalls open and a horse (Fayr Jag) start racing with the blindfold still on. No doubt Tim Easterby will have something to say to booked jockey D. Allan this evening.
As Shahid has commented below, 12/1 shot Protector won the six furlong sprint very easily indeed. The official distance was five lengths, and it looked an eased down five lengths. To be honest, I still can't quite believe it; neither could trainer Gay Kelleway, I suspect, as she came on TV straight after the race saying they had nearly pulled him out on account of the ground. I give much of the credit for this one to Angus 'Statto' Loughran who mentioned him last Saturday as one who would run well at a big price in the Wokingham. Obviously he's one to monitor, but the cat's out of the bag now...