The Northumberland Plate Preview
It's a big day on the calendar for Newcastle on Saturday as they stage the Northumberland Plate.
Run over an extended two miles on the Gosforth Park Tapeta surface, the race known as the Pitmen's Derby is routinely a devilishly tough handicap.
There are 20 runners this time around, with top-weight Trueshan bidding to make some history for trainer Alan King and big-race rider Hollie Doyle. The Northumberland Plate Handicap is due off at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.
##Doyle bids for more history Hollie Doyle made history last weekend, becoming the first female rider to win a Classic race in France, Britain or Ireland as she steered Nashwa home for the John & Thady Gosden team.
She could have another momentous win here on board Trueshan for Alan King.
Widely regarded as Europe's best stayer after wins at Glorious Goodwood, Longchamp and on Champions Day at Ascot last season, Trueshan easily dismissed three rivals on this seasonal bow at Nottingham in April – form that has worked out nicely.
He was forced to miss Royal Ascot last week on account of the ground, leaving Alan King instead focused on a second crack at this race.
Trueshan was sixth a year ago and returns rated 2lb higher now. He's conceding upwards of 19lb to the field here and, if he wins, he'd become the highest-rated Flat horse to win a handicap in Britain. It's a major ask.
Rajinsky and Island Brave back for more
Island Brave went by the post in third last year, but was demoted to fourth having interfered with Rajinsky late on, the latter inheriting the place. They are back for more now representing Heather Main and Hugo Palmer respectively with exciting apprentices Benoit De La Sayette and Harry Davies each taking off 5lb.
After a win at Ripon and a fine third in the Chester Cup to start the new term, Rajinsky looks best placed now to match or potentially better last year's run.
Alright Sunshine for Keith Dalgleish finished ahead of a good few of these in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot – including Island Brave – and could be a contender if this race doesn't come too soon.
Bandinelli was behind him 11 days ago, but Charlie Appleby's runner remains one to be interested in. Summer's Knight should be better off after his comeback at Newmarket and could do well for Sir Mark Prescott having shown lots of 3YO promise last season.
Balding's double-act in the Mix
Trainer Andrew Balding has two fine contenders courtesy of Valley Forge and SPIRIT MIXER.
David Probert rides the former, a 4YO proven to excel in this sort of big-field handicap and a winner last month at Haydock (1m, good) from 4lb lower in the ratings. He tackles a new trip now and must show his effectiveness on the Tapeta.
Frankel gelding Spirit Mixer was recording a hat-trick when he charged home over 1m5½f at Chester last month and his subsequent 2m fourth on the Roodee is forgiven as he had to race wide throughout.
He had previously made short work of six rivals at Chelmsford over 1m5½f in May and that all-weather experience could be key now. Callum Hutchinson stays on board and his mount has a good shot at becoming the third four-year-old Northumberland Plate winner since 2016.
Selection: Spirit Mixer Next Best: Rajinsky