Saturday is a big day in the North for handicap punters....

Last Updated: 25.06.2020

Thursday, 26th June 2020

Saturday is a big day in the North for handicap punters….

Newcastle takes centre-stage on Saturday afternoon – with the Northumberland Plate standing as feature race on the card....

The class 2 event contested over the extended 2-mile trip will not boast the same prize money this year as in recent years. Thanks to lockdown and a general tightening of the purse strings, prize funds have been hit across the board….

Nevertheless, the race continues to offer staying horses suited to the tapeta racing surface an excellent opportunity to bag a decent pot for connections....

Saturday is a big day on the Northern circuit. The Plate is well-supported with a consolation race, the Gosforth Park Cup, a nice 6f handicap – and the G3 Chipchase Stakes….

And the race itself is always well supported. At least 16 horses have gone to post in each of the last 18 years. There is another good turnout on Saturday with a maximum field of 20 scheduled to go when the gates open….

  • Apologies for yesterday….

Greetings from South Derbyshire….

Please accept my apologies for yesterday. I’d intended to write about some of the horses that had caught my eye and advertised their readiness to win at Royal Ascot last week….

But then my laptop took its final breath on Tuesday night and I had to spend yesterday running about in search of a new one – and then do all the necessary grind loading up backed-up files and getting it in order to do a day’s work….

I’m there with it now. And I’ll return to the Royal Ascot horses on Monday. For now, the weekend action must take priority – because that won’t wait….

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who wrote in with kind comments during and after last week’s big meeting. That really is appreciated….

KB asks about my 7-day form tables – and whether they’ll become a regular feature of ATC going forward. The short answer is yes. Ahead of every race day, I’ll let you know who is going into it in form and who is not. I’ll be doing that tomorrow, for example….

But that’s not all. I’ll be adding plenty more regular intelligence features to the service over the coming weeks. Things you’ll find useful. More on that as and when we get there….

For now, back to the weekend racing….

  • Starting with the stats....

The line-up for Saturday was confirmed at lunchtime today. Now is a good time for punters to get to work sorting the contenders from the likely also-rans....

My first port of call in these instances is always the historic record – the stats related to previous renewals of the race....

Of course, stats don’t win big handicap races. Well-treated horses do. But the stats are a useful aide nonetheless....

They offer a useful and informative starting point for your analysis – an initial route into a race. That’s how I use the stats – as a starting point. No more. No less....

The statistical record can tell you a great deal about the type of horse that tends to win a specific contest – and why....

The statistical record can point you to horses of interest that are worthy of further and more detailed investigation....

The statistical record can help you reduce a big field to a shortlist of qualified types....

  • Splitting the field....

When you come to look at the Northumberland Plate and before you submit this season’s runners to scrutiny, be sure to take note of some notable features this race has produced over the last 18-years....

  • Horses older than 6 do not have an appealing record. 15 of the last 18 editions of the race were won by a horse aged between 4 and 6. Who Dares Wins bucked the trend last year – winning at 7. But, prior to that, no older horse had managed to win since 2008....
  • 17 of the last 18 winners had winning form at 12f and beyond – and 14 of those had registered a win at 14f and further....
  • Withhold won the 2018 edition of the race off a break of 259 days. But that performance was a significant trend-buster. The other 17 winners across the review period had all raced at some point within the previous 8-weeks....
  • Good form is a significant plus coming into the race. Of course, this is a different kind of year, with the delayed start to the season. But quite a few of those going to post on Saturday have already had a race this term and it is worth noting that 17 of the last 18 winners had finished in the first 5 on their last performance – and that 14 of those had finished in the first 3....

The record doesn’t offer a tremendous volume of cast-iron pointers. But there’s a little to work with that might prove of assistance. I certainly wouldn’t be backing an older horse without a reason to be confident....

And, Withhold’s win in 2018 notwithstanding, I wouldn’t be rushing to support a horse making its seasonal return….

  • Trainer & jockey race records….

Here’s a bit of intelligence you might want to factor into your deliberations.

The tables below show the race records of trainers and jockeys with horses and rides in the race this weekend. You can see who has gone well before….

N.B. In handicap fields of 20+ runners, this column takes the view that 5th is a placed finish….

First, the trainers – those who have been represented in the race before….

Trainer Record

Straight away you can see that Tom Dascombe has only sent two for this race in the past – but he hasn’t been far off the mark with those….

Now, for the jockeys – take note that Dan Skelton hasn’t booked anybody yet for Denmead….

Jockey Record

Ben Curtis has done well enough from not too many opportunities. But it is Joe Fanning with the specific race experience most of the others lack. He rides again for Mark Johnston on Saturday – the trainer who found Fanning two of the four places he’s logged in previous renewals of the race….

  • The last word….

Much more work to do yet....

I’ll be back tomorrow with my contrarian take on Saturday’s racing....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd