MUDLARKS will be the order of the day at Newcastle’s popular Pitmen’s Derby meeting and favourite ILE DE RE (3.20) fits the bill in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate. Twice a winner over hurdles in the winter (Sandown and Huntingdon), Donald McCain’s latest dual-purpose recruit beat stable stalwart Overturn in the Chester Cup when the mud was flying. Further down the handicap, William Haggas’ Figaro has a lovely berth on the fence, especially for a horse which likes to force the pace.
DUBAI HILLS (3.55) returned to winning form at Redcar (soft) last weekend and will be among the fancied runners in the Betfred-sponsored seven-furlong handicap. Fulbright also arrives here on the back of a recent success, this time in a 13-runner handicap at Newmarket, and looks a threat.
Local handler Brian Ellison usually has his runners cherry-ripe for Plate day and RED INCA (4.55) can go one better than last Saturday when chasing home Cool Macavity.
Ubiquitous owner Dr Marwan Koukash adopts a scattergun approach to finding winners at his beloved Chester, which never makes life any easier for punters. GABRIAL THE HERO (2.40) ran out a seven-length winner of his maiden on fast ground at Haydock before running into vastly improved handicapper Gassin Golf on a slower surface last time. Gabrial The Hero carries top weight here and, provided the track doesn’t ride too soft, should be able to concede 12lb to hat-trick seeking Courtesy Call, a typical middle-distance improver for Mark Johnston.
JUST LILLE (4.50) scored quite emphatically earlier this week at Beverley and she has an obvious chance in the claimer while in this sort of mood.
MEDIA HYPE (4.40) missed his Royal Ascot engagement but Elaine Burke’s handicapper can gain compensation at Newmarket. Form figures of 121 from three starts this season reflect his consistency and improvement, despite a worrying tendancy to edge left in the closing stages.
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