Goodwood Cup hero Trueshan returns in triumph
Trueshan could make a return to Newcastle on Saturday?

Northumberland Plate tips: Who will win feature handicap at Newcastle?

We pick out five horses worth having on your early shortlist for Saturday’s Northumberland Plate Handicap at Newcastle.

Northumberland Plate Handicap

When: 3.30 Saturday, June 25

Where: Newcastle Racecourse

Winner's prize: £81,000

Where to watch: ITV Racing and Sky Sports Racing

Maximum field size limit: 20

TRUESHAN (Alan King) - 8/1

Trueshan became the highest-rated horse to contest a British handicap for over 20 years when sixth in last year’s Northumberland Plate (replay below) and the gelding could well be back for another bite of the cherry 12 months on.

His revised BHA mark of 120 is 2lb higher than last year on account of the fact he’s a perfect 4-4 since being beaten just under four lengths by Nicholas T in what turned into a bit of a mad dash for the line last June.

A similar sort of scenario is not hard to envisage again, given the way staying races can often pan out on Newcastle’s Tapeta track, but Trueshan is unquestionably the class act in the potential field and it will be fascinating to see if he’s given the green light after being forced to skip Ascot due to the ground – just as he was last summer.

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SUMMER’S KNIGHT (Sir Mark Prescott) - 20/1

Unlike Trueshan, Summer’s Knight wasn’t declared for the Gold Cup but he did hold an initial entry for the Royal Ascot showpiece prior to his comeback run at Newmarket, which gives some sort of indication as to the regard in which he must be held.

It’s no great surprise either after the Camelot gelding flew through the ranks as a three-year-old last summer, winning four from five starts prior to a slightly disappointing effort when travelling sweetly before not finding much for pressure en route to finishing 12th behind Valley Forge in the Melrose at York.

He bounced straight back by signing off for 2021 with a ready win at Haydock and he ought to be sharper following last month’s effort at HQ, for which he has been eased a couple of pounds in the ratings. He remains 8lb higher than for his last success but still holds genuine Cup-race potential and is clearly in the right hands to progress further at four.

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ONESMOOTHOPERATOR (Brian Ellison) - 8/1

Brian Ellison must occasionally still wake in a cold sweat reliving Seamour’s heart-breaking second when not quite fully seeing out the trip here in 2016, but it’s hoped the Newcastle-born, North Yorkshire-based trainer will land on the prize he covets above all else before too long.

The race also falls handily close to Ellison’s birthday (June 28) and Onesmoothoperator claiming a second course success this Saturday would be a sensational way to kick off the celebrations.

A repeat of those Seamour scenes aren’t beyond the realms of possibility as Onesmoothoperator is not a guaranteed stayer, and he was agonisingly short-headed over course and distance in a March handicap (replay below), after which he stuck to the task admirably when a close third to Earlofthecotswolds here on Good Friday.

The four-year-old shaped a good deal better than the bare result in relatively hot company (Listed) at York a fortnight ago – for which the assessor deems him to be 3lb well-in here - and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the cheekpieces tried for the first time in public on the Knavesmire retained for his return to all-weather action.

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GRAPHITE (T J Kent) - 25/1

A strong stayer over a mile and a half, who could be really well suited to how this race unfolds, Graphite looks worth chancing over two miles.

He was a Group Three winner for Andre Fabre in his youth and, after failing to make the track during a short spell at the Simon and Ed Crisford yard, was snapped up by his current handler for just 7,000 guineas.

That’s already money well spent as the grey won over 20,000 when landing a middle-distance handicap at the Shergar Cup last August but his latest Kempton effort – when he pulled clear with a couple of far less exposed rivals – smacked of a horse with even more to offer.

The eight-year-old is consequently 1lb well-in for this and anyone vaguely put off by his age need only look at last year’s winner Nicholas T, who was nine.

The parade ring at Royal Ascot
READ: Timeform's Royal Ascot Paddock Notes

SOLENT GATEWAY (Hugo Palmer) - 20/1

A return to Epsom and drop back in trip did not work the oracle for Solent Gateway last time but there’s a suspicion he still have more to offer in staying handicaps.

The Awtaad gelding was an antepost gamble for the Chester Cup after a promising comeback third in April but he pulled his chances away on the Roodee and ultimately only managed to beat three rivals home.

The last run shouldn’t be held against the horse as he got nothing like a clear shot at it, repeatedly being denied a clear run on the inside in the home straight, and after being eased a pound in the weights he’s now just 5lb higher than for his cheekily narrow victory over two miles at Chester last August.

He’s only raced twice on the all-weather and was beaten under two lengths on both occasions – both at Wolverhampton towards the end of 2020 when competing over much shorter trips.

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