Higher Power can rule over them all

The Racing Paper - - Tv Races And Trends - by John An­thony

HIGHER POWER can de­fend his Northum­ber­land Plate ti­tle at New­cas­tle to­day (2.05).

There are some solid trends to help us pin­point the win­ner of the big race at Gos­forth Park.

The best age group to con­cen­trate on is horses from four to six, al­though the younger end of that gen­er­a­tion lag be­hind their elders a lit­tle in terms of strike-rate.

It’s im­por­tant to have had a rel­a­tively re­cent run – within the past 60 days is ideal. A win over the 2m trip of this race or fur­ther is an­other ma­jor box that needs tick­ing.

Stick with horses that have placed in a big field. Al­though you get Flat races with more than the 20 run­ners of the Plate, it’s not the widest track and there can be plenty of traf­fic prob­lems that put off some horses.

Look for a horse that has won at least at Class Two level. There’s a wis­dom that you need a Group-class horse to win th­ese big hand­i­caps. While that may be stretch­ing it a bit, this isn’t a con­test for un­proven types.

Finishing in the first four last time out has also been a good poin­ter to the Plate. The draw is a bit more of a moot point. Look­ing at the past win­ners table, it seems that a sin­gle-fig­ure is prefer­able. That is broadly the case but three of the past ten vic­tors have come from out wide so it’s not im­pos­si­ble.

In the early part of our sam­ple, there was a strong trend for train­ers nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with Na­tional Hunt rac­ing. But the Flat boys have as­serted in the past four years as the pool of stay­ing horses who stick to the level seems to have grown.

As for weight, the trend used to be for horses car­ry­ing no more than 9st 3lb to win the race. Again, ty­ing in with the the­ory that the qual­ity of Flat stay­ers has im­proved, that no longer seems to be the case and higher weights have won four of the past five.

Look­ing at this year’s hope­fuls, you have to give a ma­jor chance to last year’s win­ner HIGHER POWER.

He was tipped for the very top of the stay­ing tree af­ter an im­pres­sive ef­fort 12 months ago. He fought off a de­ter­mined chal­lenge from Natural Scenery (who runs again to­day) and looked set to make a name for him­self at Cup level.

That didn’t hap­pen as he strug­gled against qual­ity per­form­ers at Good­wood and York. He hasn’t won in five out­ings since his Plate suc­cess, which could be seen as a neg­a­tive.

There’s a big pos­i­tive though as it means he’s only 1lb higher than when win­ning this last time and, in the­ory, he has a slightly bet­ter draw in stall 10.

Tom Queally is on board again for trainer James Fan­shawe, who has his horses in good form at the mo­ment. Tom­i­na­tor in 2011 and 2013 has shown that Plate win­ners can come back and strike again and that could hap­pen to­day.

There’s top-class ac­tion at the Cur­ragh where Ai­dan O’Brien is bid­ding to con­tinue his as­ton­ish­ing record in the Ir­ish Derby at 5.15.

He’s won nine of the past ten run­nings and will be hop­ing Saxon War­rior can re­cover from his flop at Ep­som last time out.

It’s a fair ar­gu­ment that the O’Brien fac­tor is the only trend worth wor­ry­ing about but he is run­ning four in the race, al­though the other three – De­lano Roo­sevelt, The Pen­tagon and Rostropovich look like pace­mak­ers. It’s tak­ing that con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject to a new level to have a trio try­ing to set the race up for a “ri­val” but that’s how th­ese big con­tests work out th­ese days.

Saxon War­rior does have a cou­ple of holes on the trends front. He was out of the first three last time and has yet to win be­yond a mile. They have both been im­por­tant for Ir­ish Derby win­ners.

With that in mind, OLD PER­SIAN fits a lot of the trends too and is a dou­ble­fig­ure price.

He has been sup­ple­mented af­ter win­ning the King Ed­ward VII Stakes at Royal As­cot last week and can give the favourite some­thing to think about – if he can get past the pace­mak­ers.

De­fend­ing champ: Higher Power wins the Northum­ber­land Plate last year HIGHER POWER 2.05 NEW­CAS­TLE OLD PER­SIAN 5.15 CUR­RAGH BEST BETS

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