It’s the biggest day of Flat racing in the North East on Saturday with the Northumberland Plate headlining an excellent card on the all-weather at Newcastle. The lack of racegoers at the track will be keenly felt but ITV Racing are broadcasting the best four races from the card as well as bringing live action from three races at Newmarket.
We have three Group 3s, a Listed race and three super competitive handicaps to enjoy. For now, it’s time to get our teeth stuck into the betting markets and pick out the best Saturday racing tips available from the televised action.
1.50 Betfair Backs Racing Welfare Chipchase Stakes
Newcastle, Group 3, 6f
Saturday’s ITV Racing begins with the Chipchase Stakes. This Group 3 contest always attracts some very good all-weather performers and the market may well have got it right by suggesting that Mubakker is the best of the lot in this year’s renewal.
The four-year-old got back to work this season with victory in a 6f handicap at Newcastle which increased his unbeaten record on the all-weather and he is being well backed to maintain his excellence on this surface at 11/4. With plenty of speed in his pedigree, Mubakker has the ability to sit just off the pace before striking for home. He’s the sort to keep improving at four for Sir Michael Stoute and will be too good for his opponents providing he doesn’t have an off day.
2.05 Betway Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 7f
As with the first race covered by ITV, the second race could be as simple to work out as backing the favourite. Boccaccio is available at a best price of 5/4 for his first performance as a three-year-old and his debut in handicaps. This expensively bought colt has made just two performances so far, winning them both in fine style to start paying back that hefty investment straight away.
A lot is thought of Boccaccio from all at Godolphin and he could well have an impact amongst Pattern company as a miler over the course of the season. Punters are not being off by the long break as there was a six month gap between his two runs last season but those who think his mark of 95 is a little too steep should consider Ayr Harbour at the much bigger odds of 9/1.
Michael Appleby’s three-year-old ran a very good race to earn second place last time out at Newcastle, staying on strongly without really threatening the winner, Canagat. This could turn out to be a little too hot for him to win but he’s likely to give each way backers a very good run for their money.
2.25 Betfair Free Bet Streak Gosforth Park Cup Handicap
Newcastle, Class 2, 5f
The Gosforth Park Cup is a key race on Northumberland Plate day at Newcastle. It’s a real cavalry charge of a 5f handicap and is set to feature 12 runners, all of whom will go all out from the start. The early pace has proven to be too much for many competitors over the years and the same is sure to be the case this time around but one horse you can be sure won’t get overawed by the race is Copper Knight.
Tim Easterby’s six-year-old has already run in the Gosforth Park Cup twice, winning the race in 2018 before finding just one too good for him last year in a valiant defence. Somewhat incredibly, those are Copper Knight’s only performances on the all-weather and connections are hopeful that the return to Newcastle will bring the best out of him.
12/1 is a good price about a horse who has such an excellent record in this race and who has two decent prep runs under his belt this month. The fact that he’s top weight is priced in but on his day, Copper Knight is better than his current mark so each way support is warranted.
2.40 Betway Criterion Stakes
Newmarket, Group 3, 7f
The Criterion Stakes is up there with the best races on Saturday. This Group 3 is traditionally a chance for older horses to keep the wins coming at a high level and we have some very good experienced horses in the field for the 2020 renewal.
Last year’s winner Limato, ranked the world’s top sprinter back in 2016, is the favourite with the bookies. The eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since October of last year but can usually be relied upon to run well when fresh and will take some beating. There’s just not much to get overly excited about a price of 11/4 and instead, the odds of 7/1 available about Vale Of Kent’s chances look much more tempting.
Mark Johnston’s five-year-old ran a blinder at Royal Ascot when Joe Fanning sent him out to the front early in the Royal Hunt Cup. Similar front running tactics could work a treat over 7f at Newmarket and he is the pick at the prices.
3.00 Betfair Exchange Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes
Newcastle, Group 3, 1m2f
Fillies and mares take centre stage in the Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes. This important middle distance race has been won by the favourite in three of its four renewals and Aloe Vera is fairly strong at the top of the betting to keep that trend going. As good as she may be, she will need something special to win this in her first run since May of last year and Look Around is the most likely to get this favourite beaten.
A Listed winner, Look Around was outclassed on her most recent attempt at the Group 3 level but that featured a stronger field than the six doing battle in this contest and she is a better filly now for the experience she’s amassed. This is a great opportunity for Andrew Balding’s charge to win at a Group level race for the first time and 3/1 looks a very good price about her chances of victory in the Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes.
Betway Fairway Stakes
Newmarket, Listed, 1m2f
Just five horses are confirmed for the Fairway Stakes which is a shame for a race which has been contested by some very smart sorts in recent years. Those heading to Newmarket for a crack at this Listed, middle distance race may not go on to be competitive at the top level but Thunderous and Volkan Star look to have a fair amount of improvement in them.
Of the two, it’s the narrow favourite, Thunderous, who gets the nod at solid odds of 6/4. Mark Johnston’s colt will be partnered with his fourth different jockey in just his fourth outing but he’s won on all three previous runs and the superb Ryan Moore is booked for the ride on Saturday. Thunderous can maintain his perfect record and raise expectations in the Fairway Stakes.
3.35 Betfair Northumberland Plate Handicap
Newcastle, Class 2 Handicap, 2m½f
The final ITV Racing race of the day is also the feature race of the day and Newcastle’s biggest of the entire season. The Northumberland Plate is the perfect encapsulation of how well the decision to remove the turf course at Gosforth Park and replace it with the Tapeta all-weather surface has proven to be. The race continues to be incredibly popular, regularly attracting some quality staying handicappers.
There are some very good horses in the field for the 2020 Northumberland Plate and the market may well have called this correctly by pricing Austalis and Caravan Of Hope as the two most likely winners. Those two did battle earlier this month in a 1m5f handicap at Wolverhampton and there is no reason why that strong looking piece of form should not prove telling on Saturday.
As close as the contest between the two was – Australis won by just half a length – it is tough to imagine that Caravan Of Hope will turn things around whilst he’s still 3lb worse off. Australis is the right favourite at 5/1 but an each way case can also be made for Rainbow Dreamer at 10/1 after a decent warm up run at Newcastle three weeks ago.