Northumberland Plate Preview with The Snout

Let’s get right to the crux of this preview right away that many other have chose to ignore in the build up to this race. This will be the first year where this famous race takes place on the all weather. In 2013, it was announced that Newcastle would be changing their flat course into an all weather track, but leaving their jump course as it existed. To say that the change to an all weather surface wasn’t met with initial praise would be an understatement, but, racing moves forward, and the new tapeta surface has been given positive reviews from trainers, jockeys and racegoers alike and one of the richest long distance handicaps in the world is centre-stage of their whole racing calendar. So, let’s get stuck into this years renewal.

This race has recently gone to classier types, with the last four years showing winners that have been rated 95 or above. Quest For More won this off 104 last year, and was a horse bang in form, with form figures of 121 building up to the race. Generally in form horses have done well here, with many previous winners showing one of their best performances on their previous run. He was also well drawn that day, and with trainers often complaining that their horse is “drawn in the car park” there can be a tendency for low drawn horses to be overbet. I am of the opinion that draw is always taken into account with the price and a horses ability to make use of their early speed to get into a good position is more crucial than the draw itself. But, a new advantage for this race is that a horse has shown form on the all weather. This has been shown by results at Newcastle for their first few meetings with all weather specialists doing well. It isn’t the be all and end all, but certainly an advantage if a horse shows ability on the surface. So, on to the runners…

Steve Rogers (8/1) and Nakeeta (8/1) look like going off at the head of the market. Nakeeta ran a blinder in the Chester Cup, which historically hasn’t been a bad trial for this race, and I would much rather be in the Nakeeta camp than Steve Rogers. Roger Varian’s horse was given a nice ride in that race and had plenty of cover but just found little when asked to improve when turning in. It was a hugely disappointing performance from a horse that has offered significant promise in his earlier days. Nakeeta is a worthy favourite but is worth taking on, considering there have been 5 double figure priced winners of this race in the past 10 years.

Gang Warfare (14/1) is one that you can guarantee loves the all weather. He has ran 6 times on the AW, winning 4 times and quickly improved from a rating of 75 to 104 in his last 5 runs. He looked to be slightly caught out off his mark of 104 at Chester but to be fair to the horse he didn’t get the clearest of runs there and cannot be dismissed.

The Godolphin pair of the Charlie Appleby stable both look like potential winners, and after the Royal Ascot that connections have had they will come here in buoyant mood. Polarisation (14/1), who was briefly tried over hurdles with John Ferguson but hated the sight of hurdles, ran a very good race at Epsom off a big weight on his first run of the season and this looks like the logical next step. Antiquarium (16/1) has received positive reports from connections and ran well over an inadequate trip at Newmarket which was surely a prep race for this as he has been kept away since then. A strong stayer who boasts form including a 2nd to Dartmouth at Goodwood, he could easily be backed.

My Reward (14/1) is exactly the kind of stayer you want for this race when looking visually at his last couple of performances but just looks perhaps slightly too lightly raced to win a contest of this magnitude. No Heretic was a very good winner of the Chester Cup but was well beaten at Ascot and I’m not convinced he is the best stayer in this field.

Gabriel The Hero (16/1) is one that I really do think could have a big say here. He isn’t the best handicapped horse in the race for sure, but the progress he has made in the past 6-12 months is impressive, and Richard Fahey is one of the best in getting a horse ready for their big assignment. He is a twice winner from 6 starts on the all weather, with 3 2nds to add to that, and finished a very good 4th in the Chester Cup when perhaps given slightly too much to do that day. As mentioned above the Chester Cup can be seen as the best trial for this race and he cannot be dismissed.

Other outsiders that could play a big part include Saigon City (16/1), a shock winner of a big handicap at York on his 2nd start over 2m, and Nearly Caught (20/1), who finished 3rd in this race last year off the same mark he runs off today. Arch Villain (20/1) also looks overpriced. He is a lightly raced 7 year old who clearly has had his issues over the years but this horse is 9 wins from 23 starts including 7 from 12 on the all weather. He ran in 2014 a half length behind Litigant (gone on to much better things) and came back in 2016 following a long break there to win 2 staying races on the bounce. He is fully deserving of his mark off 100 and looks a big price to go well from stall 1.

There are many in form stayers here which make it a tough race to decipher. Nakeeta looks solid but a price of 8/1 probably is on the short side. Gabrial The Hero ticks a lot of boxes for me. An up and coming stayer, off a nice racing weight, and one who ran well in the Chester Cup.

Good Luck.

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