Friday, June 29, 2012

Northumberland Plate 2012

A halt was called to proceedings after the fourth at Newcastle yesterday and today's card abandoned following severe storms in the area. At the time of writing an inspection has been scheduled for 8.00 am  Saturday morning for this prestigious card   - here's my view on the race they call the 'Pitmen's Derby'.

Regular readers will be aware I like to back a horse with jumps form in this race - that angle didn't lead me to last year's winner, Tominator, but the corresponding blog post did point out that horses with NH form boast a decent record over the past decade. In that same timeframe only one animal has carried more than 8-11 to victory - Bangalore (9-5) in 2002 - which doesn't bode well for market leaders Ile De Re and Gulf Of Naples, especially as conditions underfoot are likely to prove extremely testing.

The market hasn't proved very much help with recent winners priced at 33/1 (Mirjan 2004, Toldo 2006); 25/1 (Tominator 2011); 16/1 (Som Tala 2009) and 14/1 (Arc Bleu 2008, Overturn 2010). Just the one favourite has obliged in the past ten renewals - Juniper Girl (5/1) in 2007.

In recent years horses drawn high have tended to fare better but, on balance, I still prefer a horse with a low draw near the rail - I always think a decent pitch early on is vital in this event.

Those with NH form to their name in tomorrow's field are: Ile De Re, Blue Bajan, Crackentorp, The Betchworth Kid, Merchant Of Dubai, High Office, Halla San, French Hollow and Trovare. Both Ile De Re and Blue Bajan have their share of weight; Ile De Re won the Chester Cup last time out - the Weekender informs us the last horse to complete the double in the same year was Attivo in 1974. Although set to carry 9-0 after winning a fortnight ago at York, Crackentorp isn't readily dismissed - the gelding missed the cut last year and appears to have each-way claims this time; he has a reasonable draw and hails from a stable in form. You could never be certain The Betchworth Kid would put his best foot forward but he ran third last time with The Merchant Of Dubai finishing well beaten in ninth; however The Merchant led two out before fading in that race and makes more appeal to this observer. Richard Fahey's comments on his pair High Office and Halla San are worth noting. High Office may struggle to see out the trip while Halla San was retired at Beverley on Tuesday but is given this last chance as it's such a big race; Fahey clearly rates Lexington Boy his best chance. On his seasonal debut French Hollow ran a decent trial under a big weight to finish second in the Pontefract Cup and has to be of interest but Trovare was well beaten three days ago when suffering traffic problems on the all-weathger at Kempton.

My shortlist consists of Crackentorp, Merchant Of Dubai and French Hollow. Crackentrop has been raised five pounds for his York win, so Merchant Of Dubai is the each-way selection (28/1 Skybet at the time of writing). Skybet also stand out offering 33/1 about French Hollow while rivals Ladbrokes only go 16/1; I'm tempted. Most layers are paying a quarter the odds four places.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

Three horses on the shortlist, two make the frame but the highlighted selection trails in ninth. The Merchant Of Dubai (28/1) just ran out of petrol two from home and that was the end of that.

Crackentorp (16/1) finished a half length second while French Hollow (20/1) claimed fourth.

Despite the stats, it was Ile De Re (5/2f) who took the spoils...