It is hard to imaging a more difficult to solve 2m staying handicap than the 2013 renewal of the historic John Smith’s Northumberland Plate, a race which dates back to 1833 and run at it’s present venue of Newcastle’s Gosforth Park since 1882. Known as the ” Pitmen’s Derby ” to the Geordie community it originally took place on a Wednesday and for many years the meeting was a holiday for locals although that ceased to be the case in 1949 three year’s before the race was switched to it’s current position on the last Saturday in June.
After the withdrawal of long-time ante-post favourite Tiger Cliff due to the likely fast conditions this year’s contest looks one of the most open in recent history with bookmakers going 7-1 the field headed by Mubaraza and Montaser. It is possible to make a case for most of the 20 horses left in the race on one form line or another and if first reserve Lieutenant Miller was fortunate enough to creep into the Heritage Handicap the Nicky Henderson-trained 7-year-old (a 10-1 chance with Bet365) would be a leading contender after his good run in the Ascot Stakes last week.
Handsome Man, Arch Villain, Ardlui and Sun Central, are all from leading southern stables and due a great deal of respect while Richard Fahey’s Chester Cup 1-2, Address Unknown and Ingleby Spirit, are more than capable of going close once again in a big staying handicap. At the huge price of 33-1 however it could be worth taking a chance with the Tom Dascombe-trained Brockwell, the mount of Richard Kingscote.
Since stepping-up in trip the 4-year-old son of Singspiel has shown improved form and dispite finishing only fourth behind De Rigueur and Sun Central on his first try at 2m this stiffer course is likely to suit better and on 4lb better terms can reverse the form with the runner-up. The horse struck a rich vein of form at this time last season winning three races in a row the final being a victory over the Godolphin horse Ustura who ran well when third in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot last week.
Off a mark of 90 Brockwell is open to plenty of improvement over this kind of trip and in a wide-open contest can outrun his price against a host of better fancied rivals.