Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Sabotage heads up Plate field

Thomas Kelly

Sabotage heads a field of 49 horses left in Saturday's John Smith's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.

Godolphin's four-year-old is now the top weight with 9st 10lb after Tastahil was among yesterday's withdrawals. Sabotage's stablemate Sopranist is also a possible for the two-mile handicap, commonly known as the Pitmen's Derby.

The stamina test is restricted to the top 20 in the handicap and those certain to get a run, should they turn up at Gosforth Park, include the Michael Jarvis-trained Opinion Poll, which has a preference for cut in the ground.

Luca Cumani's Drunken Sailor (formerly trained in Longford by Paul Flynn), Andrew Balding's Chiberta King, Alan Swinbank's Merchant Of Dubai and the Richard Fahey-trained Halla San would all have chances.

David Pipe has left in Chester Cup hero Mamlook and has another possible in Junior -- though that Pond House inmate is not yet in the elite 20 despite incurring a 5lb penalty for his win in the Ascot Stakes.

The runner-up in that marathon was Elyaadi and John Queally's charge is guaranteed a place. Other Irish entries are the Charlie Swan-trained duo of Rajik and Zaralabad, which are on the fringe of making the cut.

Meanwhile, Freddie Head is keen not to look too far ahead after Goldikova recorded a remarkable ninth Group One victory at Royal Ascot last week.

"The plan now would be the Prix Rothschild at Deauville on August 1," said Head. "And then hopefully she will go back for the Prix Jacques le Marois on the 15th. We will see after that and we just want to take it race by race.

"Of course we would love to go back to America, but it is too early to say at the moment. If you go and make plans you never know how they'll turn out."

Another Ascot winner, Strawberrydaiquiri, is set to test the water at the highest level following her win in the Windsor Forest Stakes for the Michael Stoute yard.

The Renata Jacobs-owned grey recorded her sixth victory from just eight career appearances when making all the running at Royal Ascot, claiming her first triumph in Group Two company in the process.

The owner's racing manager Gary Coffey said: "It was a great experience and we were all thrilled with her.

"She's a very honest filly who always gives her best and she really put her best foot forward. Hopefully she can continue to do so and I think we have to be looking at a Group One for her now.

"We haven't decided where we're going to go with her yet. We've left her in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh this weekend but that will most likely come too soon."

Irish Independent

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