The Snout takes a look at the big race from up North
The Northumberland Plate is the showpiece event of the whole year for Newcastle racegoers, and the 2m centrepiece is often the target of plenty of stayers’ campaigns. Last year, it was ran on the all weather for the first time as Newcastle decided to remove their flat turf course in favour of the synthetic surface, which of course impacts the way we look at this race. Many trends and key pointers to this race are as good as useless in this instance, but there is no doubting that there is going to be some serious value on show for Saturday’s race.
Won last year by the strong-staying Antiquarium, the one that followed him home that day was SEAMOUR. It was heartbreak on the day as this horse travelled so powerfully through the race, and looked to have settled this race half a furlong out. However, he was unaware of the classy Godolphin runner and 2nd it was to be. He will no doubt try his hand in the race again this weekend, and his form hasn’t dipped since. An excellent 6th in the Ebor off this very mark of 103, he made his comeback in his prep race at York over 1m6f, where he was a respectable 3rd to the classy Dal Harraild. This horse has a huge chance on all pieces of form, and I can’t imagine 9/1 being around on the day.
It wouldn’t be a top staying handicap without an unexposed Sir Mark Prescott horse, though, and his charge FLYMETOTHESTARS looks to be standing in Seamour’s way. Only four starts in his short career so far, he looked very smart when powering home over this course and distance, beating Ascot Stakes 2nd Endless Acres. The rest of the field included some very smart 2m+ horses and he swept those aside with no real issue, and the 9lb rise is absolutely fair. 6/1 is the current price, and he is probably the most likely winner but I would at this stage probably be looking elsewhere.
There are two that would interest me from an antepost point of view and the first to mention would be the Ian Williams trained LONDON PRIZE. This horse has been very progressive on the National Hunt scene and the flat, and after his excellent Imperial Cup victory, he last time out was extremely well backed at Goodwood when winning by a cool 8L, finding more and more when asked to improve. The issue is, with him, is that he might not get into the race standing at number 33 on the list. If he doesn’t make it here, he could be a good thing for the Consolation race ran before the big one.
The other, is the Roger Charlton trained BLAKENEY POINT. I am a big fan of this horse and I am convinced he can win a nice race. He goes very well on the all weather surface; he won at Kempton in April on his comeback this year without any trouble at all, and he was heavily backed for the Chester Cup where he finished 12th, beaten 11L, but he travelled like a very good horse that day and just got tight for room at a key stage. He was allowed to coast home following that, but clearly it wasn’t his true form. He ran well at Goodwood, which I would imagine would have been a prep for this, over an inadequate trip of 1m6f and he again travelled powerfully but didn’t have the tactical speed to win the race. He is nicely handicapped and with a run looking likely, 20/1 at the time of writing looks a bit big.
This is an intriguing race to look forward to and BLAKENEY POINT (20/1) certainly appeals at this stage with a run looking likely, and if LONDON PRIZE doesn’t quite make the cut then he will be very tough to beat in the Vase (no prices available currently).