herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Star of the north'

Owner Marwan Koukash throws four at last Northumberland Plate on grass

Away from the Curragh momentarily and the older generation will be familiar with the Northumberland Plate as what was once the Pitmen's Derby, but no matter how you recall one of Newcastle's most prestigious races, tomorrow will be the last time it is run on grass with the track set to put in a new All-Weather surface.

Willie Mullins, fresh from his Royal Ascot success, is the only Irish trainer tackling the lucrative two-mile Flat handicap as he sends over the Rich Ricci-owned Max Dynamite and he has booked Martin Harley for the ride on the five-year-old who hasn't run on the Flat in 650 days when finishing down the field in the Group Two Prix Niel under Frankie Dettori as a 100/1 shot.

Max Dynamite's official rating of 104 may prove to be kind as he was campaigned at a very high level in France, but with only a maiden hurdle win to his credit since joining Mullins, he may well be one best observed at this stage.

The owner to follow at Newcastle tomorrow appears to be Dr Marwan Koukash, who will run four in an attempt to win this race for a second year in a row.

Last year's winner, Angel Gabrial, is one of the four, but it is Gabrial's Star that is picked to oblige on this occasion for Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton.

Koukash aimed all these stayers at winning the Chester Cup and although he failed in that attempt this year, he can get some nice compensation here with a six-year-old who hasn't raced since finishing fifth behind subsequent Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris. At the right end of the weights, he is the one to take a chance on at 12/1.

Looking at the Curragh, and Highland Reel has to be an each-way bet to nothing in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Jack Hobbs has the form in the book from Epsom and opened up good daylight between him and the rest of the field when it was clear he couldn't catch Golden Horn so if you are looking for an alternative it has to come from a horse that didn't turn up at Epsom and the pick of those looks to be Highland Reel with Ryan Moore booked.

The Pretty Polly Stakes sees the unbeaten Brooch take on the Classic winners Legatissimo and Pleascach and there's no doubt that the Ribblesdale run wasn't Pleascach's true running so this will be a real good tussle but dropping back to 10 furlongs here should see David Wachman's filly enjoy more Group One honours.

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