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Speed Ticket looks ideal for the Plate

THE NORTHUMBERLAND Plate is traditionally one of the most open and competitive handicaps of the season and tomorrow&rsquo;s renewal certainly doesn&rsquo;t disappoint on that front. There are six runners currently vying for favouritism and at least 12 runners priced between 8/1 and 14/1. It will therefore be no surprise that only two favourites have obliged in the &lsquo;Pitmen&rsquo;s Derby&rsquo; over the last 10 years and in that time we have also had two 33/1 winners.<br /><br />Walter Swinburn&rsquo;s Hendersyde has been the major mover in the market over the last 48 hours and currently heads the majority of lists. The four-year-old is seeking a hat-trick having won decent races at Kempton and Newmarket, but I&rsquo;d like to see his stable in better form before wading in. Judgethemoment scored for us at Royal Ascot last week when backed from 11/1 to 13/2 to land the Ascot Stakes. However, I&rsquo;m not quite sure whether this fellow will be able to go in again with a 5lb penalty over half a mile less having had such a hard race so recently.<br /><br />Henry Cecil&rsquo;s Ajaan is certainly respected after a good run at Chester, but he went off the boil quickly last year and I&rsquo;d be worried about him doing the same again. At a bigger price, Mick Channon&rsquo;s Som Tala is creeping down the weights and didn&rsquo;t run badly at Ascot last week. He should go well at around 25/1, but I&rsquo;d like him to fall a few more pounds in the handicap before carrying my cash and he is still above his last winning mark.<br /><br />The two that appeal most to me are Irish raider <strong>SPEED TICKET</strong> at a best priced 10/1 and the Mark Johnston trained <strong>KEENES DAY</strong> at 9/1. The former used to be trained by Luca Cumani and landed a decent looking fast ground maiden at Windsor this time last year (Hendersyde was a well beaten fifth). Since then he has moved to Jessica Harrington&rsquo;s yard in Ireland where he went close in a maiden hurdle at Cork and ran well in two competitive handicaps last month over an inadequate 12 furlongs.<br /><br />I&rsquo;m convinced this race has been the plan for this five-year-old for some time and the step up in trip and better ground look ideal. Our selection was beaten a head by Sesenta on bottomless ground at the Curragh at the Boylesports Guineas meeting last time and Willie Mullins&rsquo; runner has since gone on to run a cracker at Royal Ascot.<br /><br />As for Keenes Day, he was backed as if defeat was out of the question last week in the Ascot Stakes and cruised into contention rounding the home turn before his stamina gave way. I&rsquo;m prepared to give him another chance over this two-mile trip with his stable in good form.<br /><br />Elsewhere, look out for a smart Aidan O&rsquo;Brien newcomer called <strong>VISCOUNT NELSON</strong> in the 6.00pm contest at the Curragh tonight. He is supposed to be pretty special and you could do a lot worse than back him for next year&rsquo;s 2000 Guineas at around 33/1 and Derby at 40/1 if you can get it. On the subject of smart two-year-olds, Brian Meehan saddles <strong>MR DAVID</strong> for the first time in Windsor&rsquo;s second race tomorrow. He is reportedly pretty useful and should go close on his debut.<br /><br /><strong>POINTERS...</strong><br /><strong>VISCOUNT NELSON</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (6.00pm, Curragh, tonight)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><strong>MR DAVID</strong> &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; (2.30pm, Windsor, Saturday)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><strong>SPEED TICKET</strong> &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; (3.10pm, Newcastle, Saturday)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><strong>KEENES DAY</strong>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; (3.10pm, Newcastle, Saturday)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;