Our racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com has recently been signed up by geegeez.co.uk, the world’s largest independent horse racing website, to share his daily, each-way Double-Dutch selections.
Free Press readers were told two weeks ago in my Royal Ascot preview: “Ones to watch out for are the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia (11/4) and Order Of St George in the Gold Cup (7/4).”
Indeed they were worth watching as Lady Aurelia demolished the 17-runner field at 2/1 in the Queen Mary to win by seven lengths and Order Of St George won the Gold Cup at 10/11, beating 16 rivals by three lengths.
This week, I am looking at the first running on Tapeta for the historic ‘Pitmen’s Derby’ at Newcastle.
The Northumberland Plate is one of the highlights of the flat racing year in the north of England.
Crowds of around 24,000 are expected to attend the Northumberland Plate day which takes place on Saturday.
The equally popular Gosforth Park Cup, run over five furlongs, remains the big race on Friday and Seaton Delaval Trophy opens the festival today.
Historian Mike Kirkup said the original meaning of “plate” in Northumberland Plate was not a silver dish, but a kitty into which owners with horses running put around £20 each with the winner taking all. It was first run in 1833 and it was only later that Northern Goldsmith produced the more universally recognised Plate for today’s winning owner.
While it doesn’t leave the city, the £200,000 prize fund is compensation enough, making it the richest horse race of its kind in Europe.
The inaugural Northumberland Plate was won by Tomboy at its original location of Newcastle Town Moor.
It was known as The Pitmen’s Derby as a nod to the region’s mining heritage.
Originally run on a Wednesday, workers were given a day off to watch and it became one of the most important dates on the region’s sporting calendar, a standing it holds to this day.
One of the most astonishing feats was performed by the horse Cyprian in 1836.
Its owner walked it from its stable in Malton, North Yorkshire, to the Epson Downs, where it won the Oaks.
It was then walked from Epsom to Newcastle, where it won the Northumberland Plate, stark contrast to this weekend’s participants who will arrive thanks to the horse power in their swish horse-boxes.
To Saturday’s race and, at the time of writing, Steve Rogers, Dannyday, Nakeeta, Gang Warfare and Seamour stand at the top of the market of 111 entries.
Richard Fahey saddled Angel Gabriel to win this race in 2014 from a mark of 96, but on Saturday he shoulders 7lb higher which just may stop the seven-year-old, but he could still grab a place.
Gabriel The Hero (20/1), on the other hand, finished a creditable fourth of 17 in the Chester Cup in May on seasonal debut, a race that has produced three of the last four winners.
Chester winner No Heretic (20/1) and second-placed Nakeeta (12/1) should be checked on Saturday morning, as well as Moscato (25/1) and My Reward (25/1) if making the cut, for the big race.