Ante-Post Value – The Northumberland Plate
No less than £140k is up for grabs in Saturday’s Northumberland Plate over 2-miles at Newcastle and it should be a fascinating staying contest as ever. The general shape of these races would lead to me taking a punt on something at a fancy price and, indeed, seven of the last ten winners have been 14/1+, with one 25/1 victor along with two at 33’s. Form can fly out the window and hopefully we’ll be able to find the one who has a decent chance of winning at an attractive price.
Pique Sous currently heads the market after his Royal Ascot success and, of course, won’t be the one that I’ll side with! He gets a 5lb penalty for Saturday’s win but that looks to be about all the bare form would merit and although he’s still unexposed on the flat with potentially more to come, the market is suggesting that there’s definitely more than meets the eye with Willie Mullins’ 7-year-old. I’m not so sure to be honest and, win or lose, can’t have him at 5’s.
Even taking into account the fact that I don’t think he’s overly well-treated, this will also be his second outing in a week should he turn up and the trip is over 5-furlongs shorter on a completely different track. Maybe he’ll bolt up and look like bet of the year at these prices, but he’s anti-value as far as I’m concerned and certainly not ante-post value. Readily swerved.
There’s a gap to the rest, with plenty of them being around the 14/1 mark. Chester Cup runner-up Angel Gabrial is generally the shortest of that lot with most firms and Richard Fahey’s 96-rated 5-year-old has more to offer as a stayer, of that I’m sure. By right, he should have won the Chester Cup but didn’t because he idled and ran about when leading in the home straight, possibly indicative of a tired horse. It looks like a really solid effort and connections have given him plenty of time to get over it, so there should be no reason why he won’t replicate something like it on this occasion. However, the handicapper has put him up by 5lbs and that makes life more difficult, maybe enough so to stop him winning this.
Marco Botti’s Suegioo, who defeated Angel Gabrial at Chester, is of obvious interest on that effort and couldn’t be ruled out by any means. Again, though, he’s up 6lbs to a mark of 99 and had the benefit of Ryan Moore last time out, so whether he’ll find enough to add this race to his slate is questionable. He’s a generally reliable sort who’ll run his race all going well, but the trip and being fairly treated helped to bring out the best of him last month and I’m not sure that things will be as favourable this time. The percentage call is to oppose.
Of the many Marwan Koukash owned entrants, I think that Duke Of Clarence could be the best of them, for all that he’s well above his last winning mark and has shot up the ratings to 101 for being defeated. However, his York form with Arab Spring over 1m 4f looks exceptional given what that one managed to do at Royal Ascot and the son of Verglas has clearly improved since joining up with Richard Fahey from the Hannon yard. The main off-putting aspect is that his stamina for this sort of test is debatable, something that’s backed up by breeding, and I’m not sure whether he’ll get home if this is a properly run race. That alone would be enough to scare me off on this occasion, for all that I think he’ll go well.
Tropical Beat, although quirky, is the one that I’m going to side with at the prices. 25/1 about David O’Meara’s charge looks more than fair as an each-way bet and he shaped well when 4-lengths behind Van Percy in third at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance. He ran there, over 1m 6f on quick ground, as if the track wasn’t to his liking at all and there may be reason to expect much better here, not least with the run likely to bring him on. It’s rather difficult to know what to expect from him as he’s a difficult sort with an ungainly head-carriage, but he’s rated 97 and that’s definitely on the workable side in events like this if my judgement is right for a change.
Newcastle’s track might be suitable too, especially as his sole turf win came in a maiden here, and he’s still unexposed beyond 1m 4f. Being by Beat Hollow out of a Shirley Heights mare, his staying prowess shouldn’t be an issue and this is likely to be his main target for the season. Whether he’s quite good enough to win, I don’t really know and it’s even more guesswork with one as difficult as he is, but there’s no doubt that the talent in his locker and a small each-way poke about it being on show come Saturday is worthwhile.
Selection for the Northumberland Plate (3:50 Newcastle; Saturday, 28th June):
Tropical Beat – 25/1 each-way (4 places), available with Bet365, BetVictor & Ladbrokes.
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