IT’S Derby Day. There’s the Irish Derby, the Greyhound Derby and the big one… the Pitmen’s Derby at Newcastle. The Northumberland Plate has been run on turf since 1833 but today is the last one on grass. The controversial move to dig up Gosforth Park and create a northern all-weather track has divided opinion with pessimists arguing that 200 years of tradition will be cast aside. We’ll have to wait next year to see if the race continues to be as competitive. As for today, I’ll be gutted if a certain horse fails to be a Plate smasher…
I’ve championed SEAMOUR on this blog before and was convinced he was a well handicapped horse on his York reappearance. On that day he was forced to race wide but still ran nicely over 1m 4f. But it was when he was upped to 2m at Haydock that we saw the first real glimpse of his potential. He won with a bit in hand but has been raised 8lb. Trainer Brian Ellison thinks he could be a Cup horse. I think he’s right but if he is then he’ll have to win today. The other issue is the draw as he is widest in 22. Overturn managed to win from the widest draw a few years ago and a lot will rest on how Silvestre De Sousa approaches this conundrum. If he can drop in and get a decent position (a big if) then Seamour should take all the beating.
Richard Fahey, as ever, has a strong hand while Clever Cookie is arguably the classiest horse in the race. The showers that fell on Friday will have helped him but he needs more rain and he ain’t going to get it. Still, he is well drawn and cannot be ignored.
RICHARD OF YORKE (4.35 Newmarket) ran a solid race in a very warm handicap at Sandown where he looked slightly unlucky. Luca Cumani’s scopey three-year-old has been raised 2lb for that effort but still has the look of a well handicapped horse.
Elsewhere Mattmu (2.00 Newcastle) fluffed his lines at Haydock but is worth another chance in the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle despite the presence of last year’s winner Danzeno. And Adham (5.45 Lingfield) showed enough on his juvenile debut to suggest he could go close in the opener at Lingfield this evening. Finally Avenue Des Champs (8.30 Lingfield) is in cracking form and could complete the hat-trick at Doncaster tonight. Be lucky!