WITH Camelot looking for his fifth straight career victory this weekend in the Irish Derby I'm sure all eyes will be fixed on the brilliant colt as he bids for the English and Irish derby double.
From a betting perspective though I'm not keen to oppose him and would rather turn my attentions elsewhere. At Newcastle there is a cracking card for Northumberland Plate day, and the Northumberland Plate itself is an eagerly anticipated handicap and one which shouldn't disappoint this year as it looks a very strong renewal and my attentions will be solely focused on this cracking card.
2.15 Newcastle – Chipchase Stakes
I've always been a big fan of Our Jonathon and I think this could be a good year for him and I expect him to take this race on route to better things for the season. Last time out he didn't quite get the best of trips, the way the race was run made it favourable to race up on the pace and Our Jonathon had his work cut out coming from rear and when coming into contention into the final furlong he got a bad bump when becoming the meat a sandwich, he finished his race off strongly once he regained his balance and was only beaten a neck at the line still closing and could go down as unlucky all in all. He was mighty impressive in the Ayr Gold Cup last year and I think Kevin Ryan and finally got to the bottom of him now and looks to have a good idea of where they are going this year and with a lot in his favour today he's coming here with a massive chance.
Mass Rally may not be the most straight forward but he has lots of ability and this looks like a contest he could win. He absolutely cruised through the race last time out literally running on the bridle until the final one hundred yards and was only just edged out at the line in a head bob. It could be argued he has to be ridden that way, certainly he needs to come from off the pace but I think Paul Mulrennan over done the waiting tactics last time simply, for me Mass Rally responded well when he was finally asked a question but those around him were already in full flight and Mulrennan was too late asking for maximum effort. He has plenty going for him today and the likely softer conditions should play into his strengths at this trip and I definitely think there is a decent handicap in him yet.
3.20 Newcastle – Northumberland Plate
I thought Palazzo Bianco was an interesting entry in the Northumberland Plate. I think he'll relish this test in soft ground, at Haydock last time out having raced right up to the pace he got outpaced turning in for home and as he was just struggling to get on terms he got shuffled back as runners passed him. He came on really strongly again in the finish and stayed on to take third but was never going to get near the winner on that occasion. He has tackled softer ground in the past and done ok but he does have the action of a soft ground horse and he looks like he needs two miles at the absolute minimum and I think the test the race will provide will be just what he wants. After having had two runs he should be spot on now and he is still lightly raced and has the scope to improve and has got into this off a perfect weight at 8-02 and I'm expecting a big run from him.