Saturday Racing Tips: All about Team Gabrial in the Northumberland Plate

All eyes on the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday
All eyes on the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday

Tony Calvin is back to talk us through the meetings at Newmarket, The Curragh and Newcastle this weekend and it's in the north-east where his money is going...

"Everyone knows how much owner Marwan Koukash values these big handicap pots and it could be significant that Fahey has not raced him again since, hopefully in order to protect what is a very workable handicap mark."

Back Gabrial's Star at 17.016/1 in the 15:45 at Newcastle

It was all change at the top of the Northumberland Plate market after ante-post favourites Seamour and Oasis Fantasy were handed outside draws on Thursday - not an insurmountable problem but hardly ideal - but thankfully our 14/1 fancy Gabrial's King has landed in stall eight.

Hopefully, Paul Hanagan can get him settled early and tucked away nicely in midfield. If he does, then I think he has a major chance. I still think he is a fair price at 12.5 if you haven't played yet.

There are no shortage of credible rivals though - the 1m4f Epsom handicap won in a good time by Blue Surf could easily supply the winner of this - and I can't resist another play in the 15:45 race in the shape of Richard Fahey's Gabrial's Star as odds of 17.016/1 look a tad on the generous side.

He may have finished second, instead of fifth, in the Chester Cup last time with a smoother passage and a more forceful ride.

So while he is 1lb higher here and the current fast ground is probably not ideal - though he does have some good to firm form in the dim and distant past - I am more than happy to have him on side too, especially as I don't think stall 13 is an issue, either way, for this come-from-behind performer.

That Chester Cup fifth last month, where he stayed on best of all from a very unpromising position, was his first start since February. Everyone knows how much owner Marwan Koukash values these big handicap pots and it could be significant that Fahey has not raced him again since, hopefully in order to protect what is a very workable handicap mark.

***


The Chipchase Stakes at 14:00 is a really trappy 6f Group 3 and I don't have a strong opinion in the race, although Danzeno would be my nominal pick, even if a touch on the short side for my liking.

I was tempted by Kimberella and Shore Step against the field in the 14:35, but for my other play at Newcastle I am going to take leave of my senses and put up Foxtrot Romeo at odds of 15.014/1 in the 15:10. Again.

It will be annoying if Zarwaan obliges here as I put him up for the Wokingham last week, only for connections to pull him out, somewhat strangely in my opinion given his past form, because of the fast ground.

But, with the handicapper dropping him 4lb after York last time, and his claimer taking a further 3lb off, I have to give him Foxtrot Romeo one last hurrah.

This is one seriously well handicapped horse now off a mark of 92 - he was rated 10lb higher only four starts ago after a series of good all-weather and turf efforts - and there are other reasons why he may bounce back to form.

Firstly, he finished a good third in this race on fast ground last season. Secondly, the Marco Botti team have hit a little bit of form, and thirdly it is interesting that the blinkers, that he has run some of his better races in, in the past are back on.


***


Small-field conditions races rarely make for tempting betting mediums for this column, as the layers don't tend to make mistakes in single-figure fields where the horses are pretty much exposed.

So no surprise that the five-runner at Newmarket at 14:15 does not inspire and the 6f fillies two-year-old race at 14:50 is full of lightly-raced sorts and isn't floating my boat either.

And, neither is the 15:25 to be perfectly honest, though it will be fascinating to see how Wannabe Yours shapes in the market on the back of two disappointing runs.

I think we can forgive him his below-par reappearance effort as he pulled far too hard for his own good but there was no disguising what connections thought of him when he reeled in Hors De Combat in a Group 3 at Goodwood last season. William Buick got off and said he could be a "serious horse".

I suspect that he will be strong in the market again though, even in such a competitive race - perhaps too strong - so no plays for me at Newmarket.


***


Over at The Curragh, the Irish Derby at 18:30 does look Jack Hobbs' to lose but I can quite happily give him a swerve at 1.8910/11.

You only have to look at the fact that Aidan O'Brien has won eight of the last nine runnings of this race to deter you! And this could be a Ballydoyle team-tactics special - am I allowed to say that? - as he is responsible for half of the field.

If I was going to bet in the race then I would consider Giovanni Canaletto at 9.617/2, or possibly each way on the Betfair Sportsbook at 8/1, as I think the market has over-reacted slightly to the fact that Ryan Moore has got off him to ride Highland Reel.

But just the two plays for me this week - well, three if you include the ante-post selection - but be lucky if you are casting your net further and wider on the punting front.

Recommended Bets
Back Foxtrot Romeo at 15.014/1 in the 15:10 at Newcastle
Back Gabrial's Star at 17.016/1 in the 15:45 at Newcastle

Already recommended
Back Gabrial's King at 15.014/1 in the 15:45 at Newcastle (Betfair ante-post market)

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