The Northumberland Plate, run over 2 miles and 19 yards at Newcastle, has thrown up three winning favourites in the last ten years, but also winners at 33/1, 25/1, 16/1 and 14/1 (three times) in the same period. Goodness knows what effect switching the race, still affectionately known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, to a synthetic, Tapeta surface will have next year, but we’re aiming for one ‘last hurrah’.
The Northumberland Plate features 22 runners this year yet, despite betting 10/1 bar one, only one of the leading bookmakers (Ladbrokes) is prepared to offer odds longer than 33/1 about any horse in the race and, even then, only about one horse. Regular readers will be aware that we like to play devil’s advocate under such circumstances but, try as we might, we found it difficult to make a case for the 40/1 ‘rag’ Min Alemarat, so we’ll have to make do with a couple of 25/1 shots.
Resiliency (25/1) has yet to win beyond 1 mile 2½ furlongs, but ran well over 1 mile 6 furlongs when fourth, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Elidor at Newmarket six weeks ago. Michael Appleby’s 4-year-old is 1lb better off for the half a length he finished behind Aramist on that occasion and the way he stayed on in the closing stages suggested an extra half-a-mile is within his compass. He’s not badly drawn either, in stall 10, so a decent run wouldn’t be a total surprise.
Cardinal Walter (22/1) was a fairly useful sort on the Flat prior to joining Nicky Henderson last August and, while it’s anybody’s guess how much ability he retains in this sphere, he was in decent form over hurdles during the winter. He’s by Cape Cross, sire of Sea The Stars, but stamina clearly isn’t an issue, although he’ll probably need a career-best effort to win this from stall 22.
Buthelezi (25/1) has been a winner on the Flat, at up to 1 mile 6 furlongs, over hurdles and over fences despite being a bit of a ‘monkey’. He’s another who doesn’t appear impossibly handicapped if putting his best foot forward and, although he, too, is drawn ‘out in the sticks’ in stall 17, he might just benefit from being ridden less prominently than of late. That said, he’s only 1lb lower in the weights than when well beaten in this race last year and probably isn’t one to trust implicitly.
So, in potentially the last ever Northumberland Plate to be run on turf, we’re rowing in with Resiliency (25/1 with Bet365, Bet Victor and Stan James), Cardinal Walter (22/1 with Bet365) and Buthelezi (25/1 generally available). Good luck!