The Northumberland Plate meeting at Newcastle takes centre stage in the UK this weekend and both the main event and the consolation race for it promise to be fierce betting heats.
Dalgleish stayer can maintain 100% season record
The Jenningsbet Northumberland Vase Handicap (14:55) will see 19 runners go to battle over this extended two miles and it is the top weight, the Keith Dalgleish-trained Evaluation, that may well be able to give weight and a beating to all his rivals.
Dalgleish has done an exceptional job with the four-year-old this season. By Dubawi out of the mighty stayer Estimate, he was initially trained by Sir Michael Stoute for the Queen, winning once in nine starts prior to being sent to the Tattersalls Horses-In-Training Sale last October.
Rated just 68, he was bought by Ted Durcan for 30,000gns and sent to Dalgleish.
While Dalgleish hasn't been doing anything different to what Stoute was doing in terms of the trip he has run him over, Evaluation has looked a different animal this year, winning all four of his starts and improving 22lb already.
The style of his most recent win at Musselburgh where he overcame trouble in running to run out the comfortable winner suggests that he might not be finished improving yet.
This course and distance promises to suit him well and with many of his rivals looking relatively exposed, he makes plenty of appeal at his current price.
Unexposed stayer can finally come good
The Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate Handicap (15:30) is the big one of the day and as usual it has attracted a fiercely-competitive field.
The presence of the top-class stayer Trueshan changes the composition of the race and certainly adds a layer of intrigue, but his connections are likely to be treating this as a stepping stone to Group 1 targets and it may be asking a bit much of him to produce one of the great handicap performances of recent decades to win this off a mark of 120.
The one I like is the Hugo Palmer-trained Solent Gateway who has sneaked into the field off the minimum weight of 8-6.
The four-year-old was considered something of a plot job for the Chester Cup earlier this season following an eye-catching comeback run at Epsom. Unfortunately, the race went terribly for him, as he pulled much too hard and had no more to offer in the closing stages.
He looked set to get back on track at Epsom last time when making very promising headway early in the straight, but was absolutely wiped out from three furlongs out and was consequently well beaten.
The main case for him going into the Chester Cup was that he was unexposed over staying trips having won his one and only start over two miles. That case remains largely intact and with him having pulled a favourable low draw, he can be given another chance at a much bigger price than he was at Chester.