IT’S the first day of the Northumberland Plate meeting at Gosforth Park, Newcastle this afternoon.
There’s a cracking juvenile Novice event over 6f to start proceedings; Richard Fahey has saddled the winner three times in the last four years and his Vimy Ridge is respected, but Aktabantay (2.30) cost 370,000 Guineas as a yearling and can make it third time lucky for trainer Hugo Palmer.
The selection ran very well on debut when runner-up at Newmarket before being turned over at Nottingham although the winner on that event (Dr No) was only beaten three lengths in the Coventry on his next start.
Indian Keys (3.00) has finished fourth , third and second in her three starts, so is certainly due to go one better for Kevin Ryan and her apprentice Shane Gray who takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Money for the Fahey newcomer Third Time Lucky would be significant in such a modest contest and the stable landed this contest a couple of years ago with a newcomer.
Heavy Metal won the Group 2 Richmond Stakes as a juvenile and is still well handicapped on his two-year-old form, but a chance is taken on the enigmatic Dance And Dance (3.30).
It is nearly two years since he got his head in front and has been called a few names in the past, but remains in good form and tried to make all on his penultimate start when going down by a short head. There is no guaranteed pace in the race and they could try and nick it from the front.
Crackentorp finished runner-up in the Plate two years ago from a 26lb higher mark but remains out of love with the game and is hard to make a case for.
Rumble Of Thunder (4.00) finished a neck behind Rayadour at Ripon on heavy ground earlier in the month but is 1lb better off and can reverse the form back on fast ground. The 8-y-o has been in excellent form over hurdles and looks fairly handicapped on the level and must go close in a fascinating two-miler.
Robert Winston takes over on recent Redcar winner Gabrial’s Hope (4.30) and as long as there is sufficient pace in the race this former David Simcock inmate can follow up. He is still 3lbs lower than when winning at Lingfield for his former yard and he might have most to fear from the maiden Gabrial The Thug who keeps tumbling down the weights and should love the forecast fast ground.
Jacobs Son is a better horse on fibres and and the ten furlong handicap can go to Corton Lad (5.00), another who will appreciate the return to fast ground for Keith Dalgleish.
The selection won off the same mark in August and has hinted that a drop back in trip would suit when placed over 12f in his last two starts.
Twin Appeal (5.30) is blinkered for the first time for David Barron and I hope that can bring about the necessary improvement in a competitive finale over seven furlongs. A winner at Musselburgh last month he couldn’t justify market support when a beaten favourite over a mile back at the Scottish track earlier in the month and interesting that connections have reached for the headgear for the first time.
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