It’s a big day of racing on Saturday, as Newcastle hosts the Northumberland Plate with the ante-post gamble Gibbs Hill carrying the hopes of many. There are two stakes races to enjoy at Newmarket where Limato looks like the class act.
Elsewhere the Irish Derby takes centre stage at the newly renovated Curragh racecourse and Anthony Van Dyck bids to compete the British and English Derby double.
Empress Fillies’ Stakes
Seven fillies’ go to post for this listed event with most having only graced the racecourse once or twice. The well-bred Summer Romance justified market support to win on debut at Yarmouth and could have a big future ahead of her.
Star Alexander stepped up from her debut to easily win at Bath and she looks the biggest threat to the favourite. The Tom Dascombe trained Ursulina only had two rivals to beat on debut but she couldn’t have done it any easier and is open to any amount of improvement.
Selection: Star Alexander
The class act in here is Limato who’s a Group 1 winner, has won on the course and should be suited by the ground. Henry Candy’s stable star showed his well-being on seasonal bow at York and should be up to winning this.
The regally-bred Glorious Journey is already a dual Group 3 winner and as run well on both starts this season. The form of those runs was boosted at Royal Ascot but I think he is booked for another runner-up finish here.
Breton Rock took this contest back in 2016 but the now nine-year-old seems to have lost his sparkle of late and looks set to struggle. Another horse that’s previously run well in the race is Larchmount Lad who finished third in this last year before going on to win a Group 2 at the Curragh. He ran well on his first start for Joe Tuite but then put in a stinker at Haydock and he needs to recapture last season’s form if he’s to feature.
Invincible Army makes a quick reappearance having slightly disappointed in the Diamond Jubilee behind Blue Point. Prior to that he’d won both starts this season including a Group 2 and if showing no ill effects for his recent run, he’ll take all the beating.
Laugh A Minute is a decent yardstick but I think he’ll be outclassed here unless the switch to the all-weather brings about improvement. If the favourite disappoints, I think Mr Lupton will pick up the pieces. He rarely runs a bad race but that being said one of his poorer races came in this race back in 2016 on his only AW start. However, if he reproduces his turf form he should run a big race.
Selection: Mr Lupton
This is the consolation race for the Plate and could go the way of the in-form Carnwennan. Charlie Fellows four-year-old has won well oh his last two starts and although he hasn’t run on Tapeta yet, he has acted on the all-weather in the past.
Another tackling the surface for the first time is Coeur De Lion who ran a solid race at Ascot but I don’t think he’s got much wriggle room of his current mark and he could be vulnerable.
The booking of Kerrin McEvoy on Michael’s Mount is quite eye-catching after he stayed on well to win at Pontefract under SDS most recently. I know he’ll be may peoples idea of the winner but he’s run poorly on both attempts on the AW which has to be a worry.
Gibbs Hill has been the talking horse all week and the subject of a major ante-post gamble. Roger Varian’s charge hasn’t run for over two years but when last seen in action he was highly progressive. A mark of 105 could be lenient and the reports coming from the gallop have been very positive.
Withhold bids for back to back victories in the race having made all to win comfortably last year. He then went to Australia where he broke a blood vessel in the Geelong Cup and we haven’t seen him since. He’s 8 pounds higher this time but following wind surgery, this may not be enough to stop him, if he gets an easy lead.
Tony Bloom looks to have another live candidate in Stratum who’s run well in some big handicaps in recent times. I think a mark of 102 isn’t beyond him but there may be one or two other better-handicapped horses in the field.
King’s Advice has won all six starts since joining Mark Johnston’s yard from Eoghan O’Neill. He looks like the type to appreciate the step up in trip and although he’s got a wide draw, he should run a solid race.
I really like the chances of Bartholomeu Dias who had some very good form over shorter as a juvenile behind the likes of Masar and September. He won a valuable 1m 4f handicap back in April at Newcastle and given that he’s got a Group 1 entry over 2 miles at Goodwood and I think he can take this contest for Charlie Hills.
The other interesting runner in the field is Dubawi Fifty who reappears here after over a year off the track. Prior to that break, he’d shown top-level form in the Chester Cup and Ascot Stakes. If fully wound-up then he should sneak into the places.
Selection: Bartholomeu Dias
Anthony Van Dyck bids to give Aidan O’Brien a 13th victory in the Irish Derby, and land the Brittish and Irish Derby double. He went into the Derby somewhat unconsidered even though he’d won the Racebets Lingfield Trial. The form of the Derby has worked out very well even though there were question marks raised about how close the runners finished together.
The horse to finish closest to the winner was Madhmoon who showed admirable battling qualities to cling onto second. the reports from Kevin Prendergast’s have been glowing and perhaps he can overturn the form with the favourite.
Another Derby runner was Broome who finished just behind Madhmoon in a bunch finish. I think the speed test of the Curragh may suit him more than Epsom did and he could turn the form around with his rivals.
In all reality, it looks like a three horse race but the very lightly-raced Rakan may just improve enough to make his way into the places. Dermot Weld’s charge finished behind Broome on seasonal debut and then won a three-runner listed race over 1m 4f at Leopardstown most recently. This form alone would give him an outside chance.