One is £100,000 handicap on an artificial surface, first run in 1833, while the other is a classic event which can be traced back in its loosest form to 1817 with several breaks in its history.
Indeed there has already been a huge ante-post hit on Gibbs Hill in the “Pitman’s Derby” and this lightly raced six-year-old makes the market for the rest of the field. As a result there is a bundle of each-way value to be had and although I suspect the Roger Varian charge will drift on the day it may be worth grabbing some double figure, each-way value elsewhere.
Gibbs Hill obviously has a big engine inside which remains intact – why else would connections return him to the track after an absence of 724 days? – but it also means he is a fragile soul.
I am hugely keen on the claims of the Charlie Hills trained BARTHOLOMEU DIAS following his Tapeta success last time out. That was a Gosforth Park debut for the son of Mount Nelson and he bolted up under a really canny ride from Andrea Atzeni.
The Northumberland Plate will also be the first time that the selection will be handed a real test of stamina, but both his long stride and the depth of stamina on his dam’s side make him a natural for this lung-bursting trip. The fact that he has a beaut of a draw in box number six is merely the cream on the cake.
Last year’s winner Withold (8lbs higher) and Stratum, in the same colours of Brighton and Hove Albion supreme, Tony Bloom, could both have their say again, but the biggest danger could be the outsider, FEARSOME.
Nick Littmoden’s charge had no right running in the Group Two Henry II Stakes at Sandown when tailed off behind Dee Ex Bee and is best judged on his fifth to Watersmeet in the All-Weather Marathon Championship race at Lingfield. That day he looked badly in need of a much deeper test of stamina and he is worth a saver at a Nebuchadnezzar of a price!
The Irish feature looks a wee bit more diluted and is merely a case of team O’Brien trying to knock the finishing kick out of Epsom Derby third Madhmoon.
The last named led at the distance at the Surrey track only to be pounced upon by ANTHONY VAN DYCK in the last few yards. That was a brave run by Kevin Prendergast’s runner, especially when you consider that the eventual winner had the advantage of hugging the far side rail in the closing stages.
I still think that the form will be franked with O’Brien set to make this a relative test of stamina by asking the likes of Norway and Sovereign to make this a gallop from hell.
That would also play into the hooves of Derby fourth Broome, but I regard him more as a St Leger type and a possible Cup horse next year.
VON BLUCHER has run like an absolute drain this season, but as a consequence has fallen 8lbs in the handicap and the six furlongs of the Newcastle 13:50, off a hellish gallop, looks made to measure and 20/1 should be readily available.
The Group Three Chipchase Stakes at 14:25 looks at the mercy of INVINCIBLE ARMY, raced far too prominently in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, while I am massively keen on LISSITZKY in the Plate Consolation at 15:00.
Andrew Balding’s charge raced way too freely at Newmarket last time out in first time cheek pieces and if he settles better here this light weight could be thrown in off his current rating of 85.
As far as the shoulder races are concerned at the Curragh, KING’S FIELD (down the field in the Royal Hunt Cup) may gain compensation off top weight in the Irish Village Premier Handicap at 16:05.