It’s another busy Saturday of action with the cards of Newcastle and the Curragh taking centre stage. The feature races come in the terms of the Northumberland Plate and the Irish Derby.
After two winners on Wednesday, I turn my attention to the Newcastle card and the Irish Derby with a bonus selection from Newmarket.
An interesting Group 3 affair is the first race where I feel strongly about one of this nine strong field.
Tim Easterby’s Mattmu is the runner in question. He is a bit of a cliff horse for me having backed him on many previous occasions. He was second at York on his first start for the season, when carrying a group penalty for winning the Group 2 Criterium De Maisons-Laffitte. That was a big run from him and he only lost by a head. He followed that up when finishing fifth of ten in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. From that race the first, second, third and sixth all ran in the Commonwealth Cup with Limato finishing second and Salt Island, who was behind Mattmu at Haydock, in fourth. That Is The Spirit and he are the most likely pace setters in this field, so hopefully they don’t try to take each other on and end up slitting up each other’s throats setting it up for a closer. With the ground drying, he wouldn’t want it any quicker or he is likely to become a non-runner.
Danzeno won this race last year and has only had three runs since. He made his seasonal return in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock finishing fourth ahead of Goldream, who won the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot; Pearl Secret who won that race was fourth in the same race at Royal Ascot. The form of this race is working itself out and he is a big player in this race. However of his mark of 115 he is high enough for me to question whether he’ll progress further this season. Big things are expected as he holds an entry into the July Cup at Newmarket next month. Watchable has similar form in behind Goldream at Newmarket, while on his reappearance was behind Astaire, who ran a blinder finishing third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Phillip Makin and David O’Meara have a good strike rate when teaming up however I think one or two of his rivals here are better.
As mentioned That Is The Spirit can front run and made all when winning at Haydock two starts ago on soft ground and over a furlong further. That was in a Listed race where the second won next time out but looks relatively weak. Graham Lee could take him to the front and use that extra bit of stamina to trouble the field. It would be nice to see him back to his early career best. Eastern Impact disappointing last time out at Windsor but beat Huntsmans Close at Newmarket two starts ago. Huntsmans Close was well fancied at Royal Ascot but was withdrawn after getting loose. He does need to find more at this level but if the ground does quicken up he could be in the frame at a bigger price.
Advice: Mattmu (6/1 each-way)
A class 2 handicap over seven furlongs is the next race in question. Ed Dunlop’s Zarwaan sets a relatively good standard after runs in the Victoria Cup, when seventh, and in the Lincoln, when sixth. He’s the only horse in this race with a mark in the hundreds (102) but has won since his maiden back in July 2013. He has a high draw, in stall 13, which is a positive here but there is one at a bigger price that I prefer.
Almargo won this race last year. He was subsequently beaten at Leopardstown in the “Sovereign Path” Handicap by my pick. Baraweez, who drops back to 7f here, was the winner of that Leopardstown handicap and he can go well here at a double figure price. For me this is the trip best suited to Brian Ellison’s five-year-old and the booking of Silvestre De Sousa is an added positive. After that mentioned win he went to up in trip to a mile and was 17th of 27 in the Balmoral Handicap to end his season. He has run respectably in the Lincoln and Victoria Cup too. He raced in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and should be fully prepared for this run. The cheekpieces are on for the first time, which should help keep him settled.
Shared Equity’s mark is one that has kept rising for good efforts in handicaps but will need to find something a bit more in this contest. He has finished third on all of his starts this season and he has started as the favourite in all of them. He has a good record here at the track winning from both starts however he may want more cut in the ground. Red Pike gets one well with Paul Mulrennan but this stiff 7f may be too much of a test. He has done his winning a 6f with cut in the ground. He is one that could be vulnerable.
Russian Realm hasn’t been with David O’Meara for too long but we know what the trainer can do with this sort of horse. He put the hood on last time out and it seemed to work when second at Newmarket. He’ll need to run somewhere close to that form but can’t to discounted too easily.
Advice: Baraweez (10/1 each-way)
15:45 – Northumberland Plate
This will be the final Northumberland Plate held on the turf following Arena Racing Company (ARC) decision to apply to tear up the turf track and replace it with an all-weather surface.
On top of that it is trainer Brian Ellison’s birthday and he has a strong hand in this race with four runners in the race. Seamouris the obvious first choice as he has Silvestre De Sousa booked to take the ride. He won well at Haydock last time out over this distance and looked to have plenty in hand. That day he beat stablemate Totalize, who re-opposes here. Seamour had also shown promise over hurdles beating the likes of Pain Au Chocolat and Karezak. He races off a mark of 93, a 7lb rise following that Haydock win, and could still be well treated. He has definite claims if replicating that run despite having to overcome the widest of the draw.
However the Ellison runner I’m putting forward is Montefeltro. In October 2013 he won the Irish Cesarewitch where he stayed on well to beat Marchese Marconi. He faced a long absence and wasn’t seen until only beating one home at Chester in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes, a race won by Clever Cookie. The reason for that poor performance was put down to the soft ground. He followed that up at Haydock when ninth in the race mentioned above won by Seamour. He has a pull in the weights here and the preparation seems to have been preparing him for this run here. He did shape well staying on well suggesting he was improving for his two runs after that absence and at a price could be worth siding with here.
Aramist is at a bigger price in the market and steps into the unknown regarding the trip. However some of his more recent runs have suggested he’ll be fine, as he has stayed on strongly. Alan Swinbank’s grey gelding is fairly consistent too and has gone fairly close in this class but yet to win. Despite a wide draw if he can be kept prominent then he’ll have every chance to go close to scooping the prize. Ground isn’t too much of a concern after he was second on quick ground last time out at Newmarket, so the drying conditions aren’t too much a worry. He had Notarised behind him at Hamilton on his second start of the season and following that Mark Johnston’s horse went onto win the Jorvik Stakes at York and won last me out at Goodwood. For me it is unlikely he’ll be able to reverse those placing carrying a penalty.
There will be pace in this race with Buthelezi and Notorised likely to go forward from the off. Angel Gabrial won this last year and is effectively 4lb higher with the claim of Jack Garritty however he needs a career best here. He was a good third at York but was well beaten by Clever Cookie. He re-opposes here but wouldn’t want the ground any quicker. He is the class in the race but with a major concern about the ground and his participation he is one to swerve here and be with on another day. Oasis Fantasy is one that doesn’t win too often but keeps seeing his mark go up. He could be progressive enough and this is his first attempt at the trip. When second at Goodwood over 1m6f he kept on well and found one to good.
The one that was just too good was Quest For More. Roger Charlton’s five-year-old looks one of the threats in this race with good recent form over this trip. He won over this distance at Ascot by a head before being beaten by the same margin when second to Astronereus over 1m4f. This trip seemed to suit him and he is a player here.
Advice: Montefeltro (16/1 each-way)
Aramist (33/1 each-way)
18:30 – Irish Derby
Only eight runners are going to post here and my thoughts are quite brief in all honesty. Jack Hobbs is hard to oppose to what he has shown so far. Second in the Dante and then second in the Derby where he and Golden Horn pulled clear of Storm The Stars in third and Giovanni Canaletto in fourth. Today should really see the same outcome with things that should suit.
Highland Reel was second in the French Derby in May where he stayed on well but didn’t have the same pace as New Bay. He is one that could improve for this step up in trip and give Aidan O’Brien a 12th win in this race. Storm the Stars was third at Epsom and is 6lb higher for that effort. He is one that is continuing to improve and for me could be the main danger to Jack Hobbs, if not he has place claims. Giovanni Canaletto is off the same mark here and has to find more improvement to get near to his Derby rivals where he went fourth late on. Qualify proved a shock in the Oaks when staying on strongly to win at 50/1. She can hold her own in this company but would need to find more of this mark of 114 and is up against the colts.
All in all it is a race that Jack Hobbs should be winning. He sets a good standard on the back of his last two runs and the margins at Epsom prove those in behind need to find something extra. For me Storm The Stars is your most likely second, as he continues to come of age for William Haggas. Giovanni Canaletto is one that could take to the track and find improvement to run here but has something to find with the Haggas runner. Highland Reel could improve for the trip and could go close if bringing his two-year-old form to the race.
If you’re planning on having a bet and think that Jack Hobbs is the winner rather than backing something each-way to take him on with you could potentially bet in the market without the favourite.
Richard Of Yorke is the least exposed of this field only having ran twice. He won on his debut at Windsor before finishing fourth in a handicap at Sandown. He has shown promise on both starts and there looks more to come from this Luca Cumani colt. He looks the best in this race and a mark of 87 could be quite lenient. Master The World is fairly consistent but goes up the weights without winning while Donny Rover won at York last time out and could be the main danger. Mighty Yar coming back from a break is likely to need the run and one potentially for next time out depending on what he shows.
Log Out Island can bounce back after his second in the Norfolk here after he and stablemate King Of The Rooks arguably set it up for Waterloo Bridge to win. Sprinters can be turned out quickly with success and he can do that here. There has been support for Rockaway Valley who has ran here on both starts. His debut was finishing second behind Air Force Blue, who was second in the Coventry Stakes. He followed that up with a comfortable win when making all 20 days ago. He looks the threat to the Hannon colt.