Two against the field at big prices in the Pitmen’s Derby

Today’s Group 1 action comes from the Curragh, but we begin our preview at Newcastle who stage one of the premier staying handicaps of the season the Northumberland Plate.

1.15 Newcastle

Saeed bin Suroor has his string in excellent form – Shining Blue very impressive here on Thursday – and I like the booking of Hollie Doyle for ARABIAN WARRIOR in the opener with the lightly raced 5-year-old reverting to the all weather following a decent run on turf at Sandown last time over a mile-and-a-half.

The selection’s record when completing on the all-weather reads 5123 given he clipped heels and fell at Wolverhampton on another occasion. He has been dropped 3lbs for his last run and is fitted with a visor for the first time this afternoon.

Local boy Brian Ellison loves to have winners on Plate day and his Brancaster is considered the main danger having run a race full of promise when third at York on his first start for 529-days earlier in the month.

Recommendation: Arabian Warrior EW at 6/1 with William Hill


Classic winner Doyle is primarily at Gosforth Park to ride the leading stayer Trueshan in the Plate, but he will do very well to defy the steadier of 10st 8lbs having finished sixth in this corresponding race 12 months ago from a 2lbs lower mark when he carried “just” 9st 13lbs taking into account the 5lb claim of apprentice Rhys Clutterbuck.

He looks sure to run a big race but my two against the field are ALRIGHT SUNSHINE and ISLAND BRAVE.

Alright Sunshine and Island Brave both prepped for today’s two-mile contests by running in the Copper Horse Stakes over 1m 6f at Royal Ascot last week. The former finished well to take a never nearer fourth while the latter – who was returning from a near two-month layoff – was beaten just 5l having met trouble in running.

Alright Sunshine met trouble in running in the Plate 12 months ago but was not beaten far off today’s mark although he was behind Island Brave who finished third having had a wide passage. Benoit De La Sayette takes over on Heather Main’s 8-y-old this afternoon and I believe both warrant each way support.

I am loath to desert Valley Forge who did us a favour at Haydock last time, and also in the Melrose at York back in August, but he has never raced on an artificial surface although he is a half-brother to a couple of winners on a synthetic surface.

Recommendations: Alright Sunshine EW at 20/1 with Boylesports 5 places and Island Brave EW at 20/1 with 10Bet 5 places

2.40 Kempton

Rebel’s Romance is the highest rated horse in the listed Fred Archer Stakes and is the mount of William Buick who has chosen the gelding over Kemari who looked as though He would appreciate a drop back in trip when disappointing at York last time over 1m 6f. That was the second time he had run poorly on the Knavesmire, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounced back on the July course.

Rab Havlin takes over on STOWELL for the first time since he ended up in hot water after he was given a 21-day ban for failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure the colt obtained his best possible placing at Lingfield on his racecourse debut. The selection showed a good turn of foot to get to the front two out in the 1m 6f Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he failed to get home. The drop back to 12f is considered a plus.

Recommendation: Stowell 7/2 with Boylesports      

3.15 Newmarket

Pogo is penalised 3lbs for winning the group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock last time when he had LANEQASH and Sunray Major in behind and, on the revised terms, I just favour the Roger Varian-trained 4-y-old who only has an Ascot maiden win to his name but has run some terrific races in defeat.

He finished just a nose behind Pogo at Haydock with Sunray Major beaten half a length after a troubled passage back in fourth. Sunray Major is fitted with cheekpieces for the first-time by the Gosdens’ who give the ride to the excellent James Doyle. That was Sunray Major’s first defeat in three starts over seven furlongs and he looks a big threat to Laneqash in what looks a virtual match.

Recommendation: Laneqash at 9/4 with 10Bet

5.20 Chester

BAILEYS DERBYDAY was no match for Evaluation at Musselburgh last time on his first start over 2m, but he is taken to go one better in Chester’s finale under Franny Norton who has a decent draw in stall five and he may try and make every post a winning one.

The selection is a winner on polytrack over 1m 5f and put behind any potential stamina doubts when getting the trip well in Scotland last time. This track should suit the selection who should get a decent tow into the race from Emiyn if Norton does not want to lead himself.

Hydroplane is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time, and he looks the main danger for Ian Williams.

Recommendation: Baileys Derbyday at 15/8 with William Hill

2.35 Curragh

STRAIGHT ANSWER looked ready for a step up to a mile when staying on into second behind stablemate Dr Zempf – Pretreville back in third – at Leopardstown last time in the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes.

Colin Keane returns to the saddle on the 3-y-old who is out of a 7f winner but is half-brother to a winner at up to 1m 3f. He was held up out the back last time and may need luck in running if adopting similar tactics this afternoon, but he is a colt I have had on my radar since winning a 6f maiden here on debut back in August.

This represents a drop in grade for fellow 3-y-old and Irish 2000 Guineas fourth Wexford Nation and he receives 3lbs from the selection who carries a penalty for scoring in listed company as a juvenile.

Recommendation: Straight Answer EW at 9/2 with William Hill

3.45 Curragh

The, arguably, fortunate Oaks winner Tuesday takes on the, arguably, unlucky Derby runner up WESTOVER in a fascinating Irish Derby with the nod going to the Ralph Beckett-trained colt who would, at worse, have finished a good second to Desert Crown with a clear run at Epsom.

Tuesday is bred to be special, and she showed a terrific turn of foot to land the classic although Emily Upjohn may have been an unlucky loser having lost a couple of lengths at the start. The third horse home Nashwa franked the form when winning the French Oaks dropped in trip to 10f on Sunday. The filly did us a favour at Epsom and I am loath to desert her, but I just prefer the Juddmonte owned colt.

The son of Frankel will be ridden on this occasion by the Irish Champion jockey Colin Keane, with connections “jocking off” regular pilot Rob Hornby. A disappointing decision although I appreciate it is the owner’s prerogative.

Recommendation: Westover at 7/4 with 888sport  

7.00 Doncaster

ABU MALEK is having jut his third career start – all at Doncaster – on his handicap debut and is unlucky not to remain unbeaten. The gelded son of Acclamation won over six furlongs on soft ground last May before being carried across the track when beaten a neck by Cotai West here over the minimum trip earlier in the month carrying 10st 4lbs.

He left Richard Fahey’s yard prior to his reappearance and joined that of Kevin Phillipart De Foy who has his inmates in good order. In giving the 71 rated three-year-old Cotai West 19lbs one could argue the selection doesn’t look thrown in off an opening mark of 80, but I have rated him as a winner last time and I do expect the return to six furlongs will bring further improvement.

Recommendation: Abu Malek at 2/1 with William Hill     

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