ONE OF the great staying races of the calendar, the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle (3.50pm), is the feature tomorrow. I’m keen on the chances of ORIENTAL FOX to go one better than his short-head second last year and scoop the £86,226 prize for Mark Johnston and Joe Fanning.
He has to carry top-weight but, in dismantling a decent field in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket last season, he proved that he can carry big burdens and fast ground will suit him better than a number of others in the field.
Johnston’s horses have hit form and this gelding was sixth in the Ascot Gold Cup recently, giving weight to the first three home that day. This is a big drop in class from that Group One and, from a good draw in three, he can give us a decent run for our money at 10/1 with Star Sports.
The big danger is the unexposed four-year-old Nearly Caught, who ran a cracker at Haydock last time. George Baker is an underrated jockey and the pair shouldn’t be underestimated for Hughie Morrison.
The Dr Marwan Koukash pair at the head of the market don’t convince for a number of reasons. Favourite Angel Gabriel will have the claimer George Chaloner on board, suggesting his handler Richard Fahey isn’t convinced he’s well-handicapped off 97.
Suegioo won well at Chester last time but that was his target for some time and he’s a tricky ride. He had Ryan Moore on that day and will require all of Martin Harley’s urgings tomorrow to get his head in front.
SHEIKHZAYEDROAD looks the best bet down at Newmarket in the Listed Fred Archer Stakes (2.55pm). This one finished like a train but just failed to catch Sharestan in a Group Three at Sandown last time out.
But he needs a faster gallop, and stepping back up to 12 furlongs and on a faster surface, he should go well for the in-form David Simcock yard.
Gatewood re-found his form under Frankie Dettori of late but the Italian is on board Cameron Highland and the hat-trick seeker has to give 3lb to his rivals.
In all truth, the Irish Derby (5.30pm) is a poor-looking affair with four of the seven lining up trained by Aidan O’Brien. Australia should follow up his Epsom win by adding another Classic and Kingston Hill will probably have to settle for second again.
Australia is 4/11, though, and if you enjoy backing shorties, buying the son of Galileo on Sporting Index’s 50 Index would yield a greater profit should he oblige.
SHEIKHZAYEDROAD 2.55pm Newmarket
ORIENTAL FOX e/w 3.50pm Newcastle