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2019 Northumberland Plate tips: Two against the field for Newcastle

Brian Healy 26 Jun 2019
Newcastle's all-weather surface is the stage for Saturday's feature, the Northumberland Plate. (credit:Richard Sellers/PA Archive/PA Images)

Brian Healy looks ahead to Saturday's famous handicap at Newcastle on Saturday and picks out two against the field for the Pitmen's Derby.

The feature race of Newcastle’s Saturday fixture on the all-weather is the valuable and competitive Northumberland Plate, otherwise known as the Pitmen’s Derby, and the famous handicap contest goes to post at 3.35pm.

Boasting a first prize in excess of £90,000, the extended two-mile contest is one of the most valuable staying handicaps to be contested anywhere in the world, and some well-known names have collected this big prize including the likes of Quest For More, Ile De Re, Overturn and Sergeant Cecil in recent years.

Spearheading Saturday’s ITV Racing coverage, the long-distance feature will be shown live as part of the day’s TV horse racing action, and Brian Healy takes an early look at the field of entries where he picks out two against the field who can post big performances in the two-mile feature.

Roger Charlton has won two of the last five renewals of the race, and his Withhold (10/1, Paddy Power) took the spoils twelve months ago. The Champs Elysees gelding will bid to defend his crown on the back of as 248-day absence, and he won this race following a similar spell on the sidelines last year.

He can run well again from an 8lbs higher mark this time around, and he is still low-mileage for a six-year old so could well have more to offer.

A notable gamble meanwhile has already begun to gather pace with Roger Varian's Gibbs Hill (5/1, Coral) the subject of solid support over the past few days.

The Mastercraftsman gelding would be making his first outing since winning at Kempton back in July 2017 where he beat the useful hurdler Zubayr, and in seven career starts he has yet to finish worse than third which includes no less than three successes. 

He had looked a potentially classy performer when last seen, building on a win at Wolverhampton on his return from 300 days off to finish third in the Jorvik Handicap at York prior to that last success where he ran out an easy seven lengths' winner. He's been absent since, but there is every likelihood that he has plenty more to come given his lightly-raced profile, and although the handicapper didn't miss him with an 11lbs rise in the weights following that success, there is every possibility that he remains well-treated with the potential for better still to come.

He has proved that he can go well fresh, and if he returns to action in the same sort of form following a near-two years' layoff then he ought to go well.

However, the first selection of our two against the field in Saturday’s feature handicap is Karen McLintock’s DUBAWI FIFTY (16/1, Coral) who has only once finished outside the top four since joining this yard from James Tate, and the Dubawi gelding would be making his seasonal reappearance if lining up.

A past course and distance winner, he has thrived for a test of stamina, and he has proven winning form when fresh as he displayed when beating Tor at Ayr on his return from seven months off during the 2017 Flat season. That success was followed up by a win at Nottingham, and he was subsequently far from disgraced behind Withhold when finishing fourth to that rival in that season’s Cesarewitch.

Following a further break of almost three months, he struck wins at this venue and Wolverhampton during the winter months prior to returning to this venue in the spring where he posted a solid third of six runners behind American Gigolo, keeping on well having helped to force the pace.

Subsequently fourth in last season’s Chester Cup, where he was beaten around seven lengths behind Magic Circle, he delivered arguably his career best to date when finding only Lagostovegas too strong at Ascot in last season’s Ascot Stakes where he was trying to give the winner 4lbs. 

He almost took advantage of an enterprising ride under Sylvestre De Sousa, making most and being kicked for home between the last two furlongs, finding plenty but just enable to hold off the challenge of the eventual winner. He had the likes of Whiskey Sour, Coeur De Lion and Cleonte behind him that day, and although he hasn’t been seen since if he turns up at Newcastle on Saturday in similar mood then he could post a big performance.

He may well have been trained with this in mind, and he would enjoy a 10lbs pull with last season’s winner Withhold from their Cesarewitch run a couple of seasons ago which entitles Karen McLintock’s charge to close the gap between them considerably. With winning course and distance form to his name, as well as a good record on the surface in general then it isn’t hard to make a decent case for him to run well.

CARNWENNAN (25/1, William Hill) has also improved for the step up in trip, finishing runner-up twice over two miles before posting back-to-back wins over the trip with successes at York and Chelmsford in May.

Charlie Fellowes’ Cacique gelding showed progressive form last term, winning at Nottingham with a defeat of Paddy A before going down by less than one length on his first attempt at this distance behind Seinesational at Kempton.

He finished off that race really strongly having been caught for pace earlier, and he proved the run to be no fluke when denied by a similar margin on his next outing at Doncaster in April follosing six months off behind Handiwork.

Only run down late in the day there, he showed the benefit of the run to get back to winning ways next time when taking a competitive York contest with a defeat of Mancini, scoring by almost two lengths, and he gave the impression that his improvement hadn’t yet reached its’ ceiling.

Having followed up again with a similar defeat of Vampish at Chelmsford latest, the four-year old now switches to tapeta which he will be experiencing for the first time on Saturday if lining up, and if the change in surface proves to be no issue then he could post a big run from just 4lbs higher in the weights despite this being a much tougher assignment.

He remains unexposed as a stayer over two miles, having had just four starts at this marathon distance; he is open to further progress, and it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to see him find another jolt of improvement and going close in this competitive handicap contest where a strong pace and the stiff track will suit.


DUBAWI FIFTY (16/1, Coral), CARNWENNAN (25/1, William Hill

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2019 Northumberland Plate tips: Two against the field for Newcastle

Brian Healy looks ahead to Saturday's famous handicap at Newcastle on Saturday and picks out two against the field for the Pitmen's Derby.

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