David Ord's horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Stobart Rail & Civils Northumberland Plate and he takes an Ed Dunlop Newmarket raider to snatch the prize.
HIGHER POWER: Beat Natural Scenery by half-a-length to scoop this prize 12 months ago and step back in the right direction at Chelmsford last time. Only a pound higher than in 2017 so a case can be made from a handicapping perspective and not ruled out despite top weight.
TIME TO STUDY: Counted the Mallard at Doncaster among three successes last term and running well in defeat this time around. Connections reached for blinkers at York last time but his defeat there was more down to a rise in class and a drop in trip rather than not facing the headgear. Seems to be in the handicapper’s grip though.
NAKEETA: Last year’s Ebor winner and ran much better than finishing position suggests when tenth in the Chester Cup last time (had too much to do after travelling strongly). Only four pounds higher than when winning at the Knavesmire and excellent fifth in the Melbourne Cup shows he has the stamina for this test.
PRINCE OF ARRAN: Good sixth in the Chester Cup before running well when finishing third in Belmont Gold Cup over the Atlantic last time but he’s another with nothing in hand of the assessor as he looks to defy a career-high mark.
WATERSMEET: Ninth in the Chester Cup where he went with plenty of zest before seemingly failing to get home for the second year running. Drop back to two miles a positive and dangerous to let him loose up front.
ON TO VICTORY: Fourth in the Melrose last season and this is his first run in a handicap since but needs to bounce back from a rare off-day back at York last time and bit to prove.
TOP TUG: Ran well when fifth to Dash Of Spice in the Duke Of Edinburgh last week but this a quick turnaround and yet to prove he stays this far on the level.
LORD GEORGE: Touched off by Funny Kid on All-Weather Championships Finals day and all roads have led here since. Good fourth from a bad draw last year but nine pounds higher now and needs a career best.
ARCH VILLAIN: Fourth behind Nakeeta in the Ebor on reappearance last season so can go well fresh but only 18th in this race back in 2016 and percentage call is to look elsewhere.
CLEVER COOKIE: Ten now and without a win since the 2016 Yorkshire Cup. Been keeping good company in the main since but little impact from a mark of 108 on reappearance at Musselburgh. Five pounds lower here but doesn’t seem the force of old and may need more help.
CURBYOURENTHUSIASM: Chased Cayilari home in the Queen’s Vase and faced tough task on only subsequent start at Goodwood. Talented but this hold-up performer will need them to go hard up front and then get all the breaks as he moves forward down the straight.
NATURAL SCENERY: Two from three at this track – the only defeat coming when touched off by Higher Power in this race last year. Three pounds better off with that rival and two pounds lower than in 2017 so chance is there for all to see. Needs to bounce back from a below-par Dubai Carnival but that’s entirely possible and has gone well fresh in the past.
SOLDIER IN ACTION: Three-time winner last season but cut little ice this time around and hard to fancy on recent evidence.
ISLAND BRAVE: Tough and admirable, he showed tremendous resolution to win here two starts ago but handicapped to the hilt for all he’ll be carried out on his shield.
WITHOLD: Landed a monster gamble in the Cesarewitch on his final start last term and open to improvement this time around. 12 pounds higher here but that might not be enough to stop him with the only negative being his price.
BYRON FLYER: Ran well at Haydock two starts ago and best forgiven last display at Newmarket where he was badly hampered. Stays well but looks exposed and finds winning difficult.
LAGOSTOVEGAS: First time hood worked the oracle in the Ascot Stakes and that represented a career best effort. Clearly a threat to all under a five-pound penalty if at the same level following the quick turnaround.
AMAZING RED: Big player. Put a competitive field to bed at Newmarket last time in the style of a horse at the top of his game, stays this far and handles an all-weather surface. What's not to like?
SIR CHAUVELIN: Ran a cracker to finish second to Dash To Spice in Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot, overcoming trouble in running. Has won here before and clearly in fine fettle if turning up so quickly after last week’s exertions.
CAYIRLI: Sprang a big surprise in the Queen’s Prize at Kempton on reappearance but well below that level in the Chester Cup next time and overall profile is very hit and miss.
It’s no surprise to see Withold head the market and deservedly so. He landed a monster plunge in the Cesarewitch and is capable of a bold show despite a hefty rise in his handicap mark. However, at more than double his price AMAZING RED makes plenty of appeal having looked an improved horse at Newmarket last time. Last year’s principals Higher Power and Natural Scenery are both capable of going well again while Nakeeta, Watersmeet and Addicted To You appeal most among those at bigger prices.
- AMAZING RED
- Natural Scenery