Saturday 16 December 2017

Summer is on a Plate for punters

Overturn, one of the most honest and versatile horses in the business, faces a very different challenge in today's Northumberland Plate than he did when coasting to a remarkable victory in the race 12 months ago.

Off just 8st 7lb in the Newcastle showpiece then, Don McCain's charge overcame a wide draw to make all and win practically unchallenged on fast ground. This afternoon, he has been allocated a monster 9st 10lb and the going will be soft at best.

Against that, Overturn has a far more favourable draw this time in stall two, while the claimer Henry Brooke takes 5lbs off his welter burden. It is also worth pointing out that on his only start on the Flat this year, he ran out an impressive winner of the Chester Cup in May.

Having shown Grade One form over jumps on slow ground in the winter, the 2010 Galway Hurdle hero cannot be totally discounted. Nonetheless, off a 13lb higher rating this time round, there are others with more going for them now.

Activate, High Office and English Summer all appeal as likely types for the gruelling two-mile handicap. When scoring at Haydock on its reappearance, Activate accounted for Elyaadi's Queen Anne conqueror Swinkeel, so his form reads well.

High Office was beaten last time, but only by the well-handicapped Bondage, while he is a huge price at 14/1 for a lightly weighted horse that will go in the ground. At 16/1, English Summer is also greatly overpriced, and is just preferred to prevail.

Mark Johnston bought the Montjeu gelding from France in the spring. Having competed only in testing conditions over there, he held his own in three starts on firm for Johnston, before winning cosily on good ground at Chester over 13 furlongs.

English Summer is now just 3lbs higher and, with 8st 10lb today, the suspicion is that he remains favourably handicapped. Significantly, based on his pedigree and his French form, this is the sort of stamina test that he needs. From a nice draw in stall eight, then, he ought to go close for an in-form Silvestre de Souza.

In the opening six-furlong Group Three, Genki and Waffle are out to build on respectable Royal Ascot performances. The Roger Charlton-trained Genki ran a game race when eighth in the Group One Golden Jubilee, so this is a drop in class for him.

Waffle found just Deacon Blues too strong under Fran Berry in the Wokingham and he should be competitive over the same trip with an ease underfoot again. However, Regal Parade could have the measure of each of his seven rivals.

Dandy Nicholls' representative goes especially well on this ground, posting his two Group One triumphs in similar conditions. Although Regal Parade hasn't won yet this term, he has run well to be second on dry ground on his last two starts, so the rain has come at the right time for him now.

Further south at Newmarket, Ryan Moore has two interesting rides for Michael Stoute. He rides Verdant in the older horses' Listed race, a 12-furlong contest that pits the four-year-old against a number of higher rated rivals.

Having already been a beaten favourite twice this season, Verdant still has it to prove, but the fact that he hasn't run since the first week in May would suggest something may have come to light. If he returns to his best, he has scope to progress.

Moore's other ride for Stoute is Heavenly Dawn in the one-mile fillies' handicap. Watneya, Wallis and Dark Promise are three promising individuals here, but Heavenly Dawn could be well treated, having not seen out the 10-furlong trip when fourth on her only previous handicap outing a year ago.

Best Bet: Regal Parade

Irish Independent

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