Steve Hughes previews the best of the final day of action at both The Curragh and Newcastle
With five of the eight runners in the Derby, Aidan O’Brien’s team can boss the race to try and run the speed out of their rivals. Heavy morning rain has persuaded me though to go against the favourite. At Newcastle the Northumberland Plate is the annual highlight at the track and I have two against the field, plus selections from the opening two sprint races. Eeh Bah Gum placed for the each-way bet last night (SP 10/1).
Newcastle 1.50: Cosmic Law
Although defeated in both runs this campaign, Cosmic Law has impressed on each occasion and looks fairly weighted to defeat largely elder, more exposed rivals today.
He showed plenty of ability as a juvenile, notably when winning the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom’s Derby meeting by 6l. He could not cope with class 1 races thereafter, but has shown that he can more than cope with decent handicaps this term.
Narrowly defeated at Chester on his comeback, he built on that when a good fourth in one of the most competitive 3yo handicaps of the season at York two weeks ago. A strong pace over 6f on a straight track seems to suit the gelding and he rates each-way value for an owner who won the big race here last night.
Newcastle 2.25: Invincible Army
Despite a slightly disappointing effort at Royal Ascot last week, Invincible Army looks the class act in this small field sprint.
His very best form has probably been with cut in the ground, so he had a ready made excuse at Ascot given the ground had dried out by the weekend. Nevertheless he was still seventh in a Group 1 and prior to that had win listed and Group 2 races in style.
He hails from a stable that specialise in All Weather types and the selection himself is 1-1 on an artificial surface having won a Group 3 at Kempton as a juvenile. This could prove an unusually tactical sprint, in which case Invincible Army ought to be well placed to take advantage given his natural pace.
Newcastle 3.35: Proschema & Stratum
High draws have held sway in recent Plate’s but I am taking a low and high draw in this race as I feel the pace of the race could be higher than normal given a number of front-runners.
Proschema looks well worth a first try at 2m. He looks stamina laden and was winning over 12f very early in his 3yo campaign last term. A fine third over 14f in the Melrose at York, he was not up to the grade in the St Leger, but top handicaps look to be his thing. Outpaced in two races over 12f, he stepped up when back to 14f at Newmarket last time and could find more improvement at 2m.
Stratum warmed up for this with a win in a minor hurdle at Ballinrobe, but had previously been placed in a hot handicap at the Punchestown Festival. His flat form was excellent last term too. He won a big 2m handicap at Newbury and was placed at Royal Ascot over further. From his low draw I hope that jockey Robert Winston will be able to obtain a good early position and utilise his high cruising speed as it can be difficult to make up ground late on here.
Curragh 5.20: Broome
Heavy overnight rain might have changed the complexion of the Irish Derby. One who will revel in softer ground is Broome.
Although only fourth at Epsom, he was only beaten a half-length by Anthony van Dyck so has very little to find. We already know he stays well from his two wide margin wins at Leopardstown in the spring where he was doing all his best work late. Both came with cut in the ground and he won by 8l on soft in the Group 3 Ballysax.
I suspect Aidan O’Brien’s quintet will set up to ensure a strong stamina test and given the rain this will set up Broome for a big run better than most.
0.75pts each-way – Cosmic Law – 1.50 Newcastle – 11/2 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 4)
1.5pts win – Invincible Army – 2.25 Newcastle – 6/4 general
0.75pts each-way – Proschema – 3.35 Newcastle – 11/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Stratum – 3.35 Newcastle – 13/2 Paddy Power, Bet365
1.5pts win – Broome – 5.20 Curragh – 3/1 Paddy Power