Tony Calvin: Gabrial to be crowned King in Saturday's Northumberland Plate

Tony is hoping Gabrial's King will bring a smile to Richard Fahey's face on Saturday
Tony is hoping Gabrial's King will bring a smile to Richard Fahey's face on Saturday

Still relatively new to betting.betfair, Tony Calvin's ante-post column has already produced a 109/1 winner when Qualify won the Epsom Oaks earlier this month, and while our man isn't tipping up anything near that price this weekend, he's still quite sweet on a horse who ties in nicely with a Group 1 Royal Ascot winner...


"He is only 2lb higher than at Ripon and Chester and, to my mind, he is the best handicapped horse in the field on those runs. If his rider can get him settled in a midfield slot from whatever draw he is handed, then I rate his chances at around the 14-1 mark."

Back Gabrial's King at 15.014/1 for the Northumberland Plate on Saturday

Newcastle's Northumberland Plate is the big ante-post betting heat for Saturday but you are taking a punt with two things if you get involved at this stage.

The most obvious is the draw - common sense, and history, tells you that you want to be drawn low - and the other is the weather forecast. It is currently good to firm at the track, but there is a fair bit of rain expected in the area during the next few days.

So it will probably be dry and they will have to water on Friday night...

There is also a third headache for me in the sense that I fancy a Richard Fahey horse and he has the small matter of eight entries in the race,and obviously there is the possibility of the dreaded non-runner. I contacted the trainer earlier this morning to ask about running plans, but no news as of yet, though I will add to this column if there is anything significant to report.

But there are only three of his octet sure to get in the race at this stage, and of the Marwan Koukash battalions likely to be sent into battle - watch your bets, as there are plenty of Gabrials in here - I like Gabrial's King at 15.014/1 or bigger.

I was all over this horse for the Chester Cup after his Ripon reappearance, where I thought that he looked a little unlucky when trying to give Trip To Paris 3lb, even if beaten over three lengths.

In hindsight, he clearly wasn't, considering the winner subsequently won at Chester, and the Gold Cup last week.

But, again, I thought that he wasn't seen to best effect at Chester, even though he was only beaten three lengths into fourth. I thought Franny Norton could have been more decisive from 2f out, but it could well have been the horse simply didn't fully see out the extended 2m2f there, especially as he raced more prominently than usual. And he can race very keenly, too.

In fact, he has been a something of a "nearly horse" this season as he was sent off at 13-2 and ran below par behind Seamour at Haydock last time, though again there may have been extenuating circumstances.

He never really got into the race after being dropped in from his wide draw in 15 - the first three home were stalled in 2, 1 and 6 respectively - and at least the handicapper has dropped him 1lb behind it.

He is only 2lb higher than at Ripon and Chester and, to my mind, he is the best handicapped horse in the field on those runs. If his rider can get him settled in a midfield slot from whatever draw he is handed, then I rate his chances at around the 14-1 mark.

There could be plenty of interest in Willie Mullins' Max Dynamite at 14-1 simply because of the trainer. But the horse has proved very disappointing over hurdles and, while he mixed it in Group 1 company on the Flat in France two years ago, I don't think a mark of 104 is overly-generous at all.


*****


Saturday's Irish Derby at the weekend is probably best swerved until Aidan O'Brien declares his hand later on in the week.

Snow Sky probably didn't get the credit he deserved in the immediate aftermath of his 3 ¾ length defeat of Eagle Top in the Hardwicke last week, many focusing on either Pat Smullen's excellent tactical ride, the below-par run of favourite Telescope or the trouble in running that runner-up Eagle Top experienced.

But the Betfair Sportsbook are affording him the utmost respect by installing him as the 3-1 favourite with a run for the King George at Ascot on July 25th.

While those odds certainly wouldn't have me charging in to have a bet, I like the idea of the Sportsbook offering the "with a run" concession for that horse as running plans for that race look up in the air. And for plenty of other possibles for the Group 1 prize, too.

In the Times yesterday, John Gosden said that Golden Horn could yet take in both the Eclipse at Sandown on July 4 and that Ascot race. And if he rocked up after winning the Eclipse, then his current quote of 11-2 in one place would be a very distant memory. It would probably be nearer 11-8, than 11-4.

But what price is he to run? Probably odds against, I'd have thought, so even that top industry odds of 11-2 doesn't make much appeal.

The stable's Eagle Top entices most at 7.06/1 in the market as I am convinced that this horse has a Group 1 in him over 1m4f in a strongly-run race.

He has had excuses for all three defeats since laughing at Adelaide in the King Edward VII last season - he was clearly not to seen to best effect last week - and he looks a certain runner.

With the race over a month away and too many unknowns, I am not going to recommend a bet at this stage but it seems to me that Eagle Top at 6-1 represents the most solid option for those itching for an interest.

As for the Eclipse, I couldn't put anyone off Golden Horn at 10-11 with the Betfair Sportsbook. The race could really cut up.

Time Test would be a very serious rival but he is not turning up at Sandown, and nor is Free Eagle by the sounds of it. And Gleneagles looks set to stay at a mile and go for the Sussex.

And it wouldn't be the biggest surprise in the world were Khalid Abdullah's New Bay, currently second favourite for the race on the exchange at 6.611/2 stay at home for something like the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14.

No, I couldn't put you off the 10-11 Golden Horn. But, that's not my bag.

Best of luck punting this week. I'll be back on Friday afternoon.


Recommended Bet

Back Gabrial's King at 15.014/1 for the Northumberland Plate on Saturday


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