The John Smith’s Northumberland Plate is still known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby‘ even though it’s a long time since pithead wheels disappeared from the Tyneside skyline. I suppose the race used to define the mining traditions as it’s a gritty contest which requires bravery and stamina in equal measures and we again have the last two winners taking their chance.
Ile De Re can race off the same mark as 12 months ago but is unlikely to get his favoured soft ground this time. He’s not been in the same form on a faster surface this term and was a long way behind several of these in the Chester Cup last month, a race he also won last season. The 14/1 with Boylesports, Ladbrokes and Skybet makes little appeal but I’m very interested in the 8/1 available with Boylesports, Coral, Paddy Power and Stan James about 2011 victor TOMINATOR.
Jonjo O’Neill has already trained the winner of one of the Flat’s most valuable handicaps this month, the Ascot Stakes, and is eyeing up another big prize with his grey. Third in the Chester Cup, just behind Address Unknown and Ingleby Spirit (both a general 16/1 for this), you could certainly argue that Tominator would have gone very close to winning had he not had to weave his way through the field from an uncompromising position. The fourth that day, Simeon, went on to finish a close second in the Ascot Gold Cup so the form can’t be faulted and I expect the top weight to show his class in this under the cool-as-cucumber Graham Lee.
Of course, Tominator won’t have it easy and Mubaraza, fourth in the Ascot Stakes, will be popular back over 2m. He is a general 7/1 at present while Godolphin‘s Handsome Man beat penalised York winner Montaser over 1m6f at Yarmouth last season and has run well in two starts over 1m4f this year. He has to show he’ll stay the extra but can be backed at 9/1 with bet365 and William Hill for those who think stamina won’t be a problem. Montaser is also a best 9/1 with bet365 but, like the in-form Arch Villain (a general 10/1), he has a high draw to overcome while Sun Central (a general 12/1) was beaten over the trip at Haydock last time and is better on faster ground.
There could be more to come from April’s Ripon winner Ardlui (12/1 with Boylesports and Paddy Power) but he likes to race from the front and will be there to be shot at up the long Newcastle straight. Moidore‘s run behind Well Sharp at York has been franked and he could reward each-way support at Boylesports’ 14/1 while the general 40/1 against Party Line looks big but Tominator is the one for win money.