14:05 Newcastle – Northumberland Plate
Newcastle takes centre stage today with the Northumberland Plate being the feature of the day. Raced over a trip of two miles and on the all weather tapeta surface, this is one of the most prestigious staying handicaps of the year. With the prospect of twenty runners participating and glorious weather forecast one would have to conclude that today’s edition will be a gruelling test, recent track reports also suggest that the surface is riding on the slow side.
Higher Power landed last year’s renewal for James Fanshawe and arrives here today one pound below that winning mark, his latest run at Chelmsford was a step back in the right direction and he could make a bold bid to hold onto his crown.
Withold was very heavily backed before bolting up in last seasons Cesarewitch, interestingly he has attracted strong market support for this during the last few days and now heads the market. The winner of three of his ten starts to date and proven over further than this trip, he appears to tick quite a few of the correct boxes although the handicapper posed a serious question by raising him 12lbs for that aforementioned victory.
Lagostovegas is an intriguing challenger for Willie Mullins and she arrives here in great form, having scored at Royal Ascot last eleven days ago. Penalised for that success today and making all weather debut it is anyone’s guess if she will handle the going, she does warrant respect however and market strength would inspire confidence of a big run.
Godolphin challenger, Natural Scenery has form figures of 1112 on the tapeta surface though she was comprehensively put in her place a few times in Dubai earlier in the season. Connections decision to book Paul Hanagan for the ride looks an interesting decision however, she often trades shorter than she ought to and is taken on for win purposes.
Amazing Red was impressive at Newmarket the last day, perhaps improving with age, he looks a solid place player and is four pounds well in. Mark Johnston has supplied winners left, right and centre in recent times, three handed with Time To Study, Soldier In Action and Watersmeet, it would be unwise to dismss any out of hand despite all three being outsiders. Cases could be made for quite a few of the others, none of them have the potential of Withold though and it is the Roger Charlton inmate who is handed the NAP vote on the day.
WITHOLD (WIN) – NAP
Normandy Barriere (E/W)
The Grand Visir (E/W)
Dutch Connection (WIN)
written by Chris Connolly