Friday, June 24, 2011

Northumberland Plate 2011

Prior to last year's running of the Northumberland Plate I wrote:

"Recently a number of long distance races on the Flat have gone the way of horses with form over the sticks - Mamlook took the Chester Cup in May, while Junior won the Ascot Stakes and Bergo the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot last week. The start of a trend? Probably not..."

Twelve months on, perhaps there is something of a trend.... Last year's Plate winner Overturn took this year's Chester Cup while Veiled won the Ascot Stakes and Swingkeel the Queen Alexandra Stakes, all horses with jumps form in the book. Digging a little deeper, I discovered that between the years 1994 and 2001, no winner of the Pitmen's Derby had previously run over the sticks; from 2002 onwards, five of the subsequent nine winners had National Hunt form (Bangalore 2002, Unleash 2003, Mirjan 2004, Arc Bleu 2008 and Overturn 2010).

Regular readers will know that this Flat term I'm trying to focus on horses with jumps form racing over more than one and a half miles; two Royal Ascot winners last week were supplemented by My Arch (8/1) taking the Pontefract Cup on Sunday while Kavaloti (11/10f) collected a class 6 handicap on the all-weather at Kempton on Wednesday evening.

The horses with jumps form declared for Newcastle's Northumberland Plate tomorrow are Overturn, Investissement, La Vecchia Scuola and first reserve Crackentorp who may yet line up as Her Majesty's horse, Tactitian, is rated doubtful this evening. Although this is a two mile race, a low draw is seen as important - in the past decade four winners have raced out of a stall numbered higher than nine, with Eddie Ahern performing miracles last year on Overturn who broke from stall 21. Donald McCain's charge missed last weeks' Queen Alexandra Stakes on account of the ground, has a plum draw in stall two but is rated thirteen pounds higher this year - Henry Brooke can claim five. It's worth noting that only one horse has carried more than 8-11 to victory in the last decade - Bangalore won with 9-5 in 2002. John Gosden's Investissement is another with a good draw (berth three) and looks interesting, having had this as his target for a while; previously with Evan Williams, the Singspiel gelding didn't take to hurdling, finishing tailed off in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Jim Goldie trains bay mare La Vecchia Scuola who is another with a good draw (stall 4) but has been out of sorts since her second in last season's Cesarewitch at Newmarket; on her last run over hurdles she finished over 30 lengths behind Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. My Arch took the Pontefract Cup on Sunday but is drawn widest of all in stall 22 while Tim Easterby's Crackentorp finished third behind the useful Storm Brig in a Newcastle novice hurdle last November.

Of the other runners, Activate's Haydock win last month catches the eye, with Swingkeel (sixth) and My Arch (seventh) both having won since - Deauville Flyer, another from Tim Easterby's yard, was fourth that day, suffering interference in running around two furlongs out, and probably represents that trainer's best chance.

Almost all layers offer a quarter the odds four places - in a very competitive affair I'll take an each-way interest in Investissement at around 9/1.

I haven't done any work on Sunday's cards but I'll look closely at my Epsom Derby selection Native Khan who goes in the Irish Derby. Writing in the Weekender Kieren Fallon rates him overpriced at 8/1 and 'the logical each-way pick', while Nick Mordin selects the same horse as he sees favourite Carlton House 'vulnerable off a quick return because he's still immature'.

On the same day but changing codes, 18 have been declared for the English Summer National run over three and half miles at Uttoxeter. I prefer a young horse for this one and will do some homework on Eoin Griffin's The Last Derby who was third in the Cork National last October and sixth in the Irish National at Fairyhouse in April.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

No joy for the jumpers this year with Overturn putting up the best display,finishing sixth behind clear 25/1 winner Tominator - Pricewise pulled off a coup tipping this one at 50/1.

Selection Investissement (8/1) looked to miss the break by half a stride. Jock Nicky Mackay bustled his mount along to hold a position coming to the first bend but then found himself sitting on a horse racing too keenly. Investissement found himself in fourth behind front-running Overturn for much of the trip but when push came to shove two out, John Gosden's charge went backwards very quickly indeed, eventually finishing eighteenth of the nineteen runners.

One to catch the eye at a big price was Bernie Ecclestone's Petara Bay; previously beaten by Investissement, Petara Bay(40/1) made plenty of ground in the closing stages, just failing to take third depsite carrying a burden of 9-6 on good to soft ground.