ITV Races

Tony Calvin: 14/1 Oxford can pass Saturday's Northumberland Plate test

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
Tony takes an antepost look at the Northumberland Plate

With Royal Ascot behind us we look ahead to Saturday's big handicap at Newcastle, the Northumberland Plate, and here with his antepost preview and tip for the race is Tony Calvin...

  • Fifty entries remain for Saturday's Northumberland Plate

  • Strong hand for Sir Mark Prescott

  • Couldn't put you off Onesmoothoperator

  • Lightly-raced Duke Of Oxford appeals with a run guaranteed

There were 75 entries in the Northumberland Plate before Monday's noon confirmation stage, for a race with a maximum field of 20 on the day, and we are now down to 50.

Among the surprise no-shows on Monday were Adjuvant and Sea Legend, general 12s chances, as well as the likes of Zanndabad at a similar price, though it has to be said the race was very defensively priced up given the amount of entries, so those odds were not really representative of the reality.

Royal Ascot winner a likely no show

Saturday's Newcastle 2m handicap was obviously an early-closer then, so we have had betting on the race for a while - on Monday morning, it was 7s the field if you shopped around (now it is 8s), with last week's Ascot Stakes winner Pledgeofallegiance heading the way - and we also have an exchange market, though that has yet to catch fire.

Pledgeofallegiance will carry a 5lb penalty if turning out again quickly here - and that is an ante-post concern for punters considering a bet on any recent runners - and that doesn't sound likely at the moment, with Sir Mark Prescott saying on Sunday that they are not intending to run him, though falling short of totally ruling it out.

Given he will probably go up around 5lb or so for beating a well-handicapped, and well-supported, horse by ½ length last week, with 2 ½ lengths back to the third, they may well be tempted. He is 8s with the Sportsbook.

Strong hand for Sir Mark

Prescott also has another two in here, including Trooper Bisdee, who will probably be well-in here under a 5lb penalty, once he is re-assessed, after a very easy 4-length win (value for a bit more) at Pontefract on Sunday. He is 9s with the Sportsbook (cut from a very early 14s on Monday afternoon, and then again clipped from the revised 11s), but as short as 6s in places.

I wouldn't read anything into the fact that his two all-weather runs (at Kempton and Wolverhampton) were poor, as they were as a juvenile when he was getting handicapped for a 3yo career.

Yes, I know. Prescott's other entry True Legend - and I wouldn't be laying him at the Sportsbook's current 20s, either, with the 25s just taken before this column went live - gives the Baronet a very strong hand at the five-day stage.

Difficult to put you off Ellison's operator

Top weight Tashkhan, taken out of Saturday's Queen Alexandra because of the fast ground, has been confirmed.

He goes well when fresh, looks fairly handicapped off 111, and he hails from a stable in very good form.

Ellison also has two others in there - all owned by the same man, Patrick Boyle, which could be problematic for punters - including Onesmoothoperator, a good second to Prydwen (also in here) from off the pace last time and who has oodles of experience of this track (course form figures of 13222302513648).

And he is undeniably interesting.

He may not be a stand-out off his current mark of 93 (he has been beaten in all of his six handicap starts off higher than that level, and been beaten around 6 lengths in his sole start off it) and he was soundly stuffed when a 10s chance for this race in 2022.

However, that Southwell second to Prydwen last time out in April probably wasn't far off a career-best and he was only raised 1lb for it.

And that performance can be marked up given the way the race panned out for him, as those who raced prominently were favoured there and he certainly didn't get the run of the race.

That was a very hot race for the track (it was nearly 40k to the winner), as Pledgeofallegiance was back in third, and subsequent scorer Tenerife Sunshine was back in fifth.

He was due to run at Newmarket last month (taken out with a vet's certificate) but that may be no bad thing.

You don't need to me run through you the field, as you probably want to get out there and enjoy the sun, and it all comes down to price anyway.

And basically that means the Sportsbook odds-compilers not fancying them, when I do.

They are top-priced about Onesmoothoperator at 14s, and I am clearly not going to put you off that play.

Davideo was interesting at 33s but his stamina is unknown and he is also in at Windsor over an extended 1m3f on Saturday.

Northumberland Plate (Saturday): Back Duke Of Oxford

My short-list is in danger of heading into double figures, but I think the bet at this stage could be Duke Of Oxford at 14/115.00 win-only with the Sportsbook, who are paying four places. He also trades at 15.014/1 in that very lightly-traded exchange market.

Forget his Chester Cup run last time, as it was a complete non-event from stall 16. He was near-last the whole way round and when David Egan tried to get a run entering the straight, the door was closed on him.

I am surprised the handicapper dropped him 1lb for it, but he did, and that means he is back on the same mark as when a 3 ½ length second of 13 to Prydwen on all-weather finals day here in March.

Prydwen was ridden prominently and sluiced up on the near rail, while Duke Of Oxford came from off the pace, right over on the far side. That run can be marked up as a result, and he is 9lb better off with the winner here.

Michael Bell took the aforementioned Adjuvant (not in the same ownership, though) out of the race on Monday and presumably he is relying on the selection, who is a lightly-raced 4yo, guaranteed a run, and who has been placed on both starts here.

I am not sure if he is a planned runner, so only a small-stakes win-only bet is required.

Good luck.

Now read more Horse Racing tips and previews here.

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