Seamour ripe for Plate glory
Brian Ellison is hoping it will be third-time lucky for Seamour in the Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Sixth in 2015 and agonisingly beaten into second place 12 months ago, Ellison believes the six-year-old is better than ever and reports his charge in tip-top form following his seasonal return when he finished third to Dal Harraild in a Listed race at York.
Seamour has also fared better with the draw than in the last two years and will race from stall 11 in a maximum 20-runner field.
Ellison said: "He's drawn one better than last year. I think he's better this year. He's in very good form and his home work is awesome.
"He's drawn in the middle, so it's better than being drawn wide, although the better fancied ones are inside us. We were drawn wide last year and ran wide all the way.
"He went a bit early, but the winner had a great run all the way and got a great ride.
"Everything's gone fine with his training and we had him away a couple of weeks ago. It went well and he's working well, so we're just very hopeful. It was a good run first time out and he's improved loads for it."
North-east native Ellison would dearly love to win the race, for obvious reasons.
He added: "It would be nice to have this race on the CV – this and the Melbourne Cup would be nice, but as long as he comes back OK, that's the main thing.
"We just need a good run and if he gets a good run and is second again, so be it."
While Seamour can be called a Plate veteran, Flymetothestars has just had the four career starts, but two of his three wins have come on Newcastle's all-weather track.
Like Seamour the Plate has been the long-term target for the Sir Mark Prescott-trained four-year-old and part-owners Middleham Park Racing are looking forward to the big day.
Middleham Park's director of racing, Tim Palin, explained how they came to buy the son of Sea The Stars.
He said: "Sir Mark told us that Lady Bamford was going to send him to the sales and he felt the horse would have a good chance in the Northumberland Plate if we wanted to buy him.
"We said we would buy him specifically with that race in mind and he's been trained for this race.
"He is in the Irish St Leger because it is possible if he were to win the Northumberland Plate you'd be looking at those staying Group races.
"He could be a Group horse masquerading in a handicap, we don't know that for sure. All we have seen so far is a nice, progressive, young handicapper that everyone has fallen in love with at Middleham Park.
"He's favourite for the Plate and deserves to be the way he beat Endless Acres last time and that horse was second in the Ascot Stakes. Our horse wasn't fully tuned up, there is some improvement in there and we go there with a big chance.
"It's a very competitive race and there have been horses laid out for it. We have and he's an improving young gun that seems to fit the bill.
"Our worst nightmare would to have been drawn in the car park, but he's drawn eight so the draw gods have been reasonably kind to us and he's had a clean, uninterrupted preparation."
Sir Chauvelin was fourth in the consolation race on the same card in 2016 and trainer Jim Goldie believes his five-year-old has sound claims.
The Glasgow handler said: "He's in good form and we've got quite a good draw (six). He ran a blinder in the consolation last year and seemed to handle the surface, so it's all positive.
"He's in good order and I think he's got a good chance.
"It's a difficult race, but he's one of the players, I think."
My Reward had Sir Chauvelin in second place when winning at Ripon in April but trainer Tim Easterby has fingers crossed his charge does better than in this race last year when he weakened markedly out of contention in the closing stages.
"He'd have a good chance. He had a few issues last year, but we've sorted them out now," said the in-form North Yorkshire handler.
"The only thing I'm worried about is the surface, as he came there with every chance last year and just emptied. He shouldn't do that this year."
Josephine Gordon is expecting a bold show from her mount, Natural Scenery, for Godolphin who lifted the prize last summer with Antiquarium.
"We're drawn 10. There could be worse draws. Hopefully she can slot in and find a nice position. I'm expecting a big run," she told At The Races.
"She's won there and the further the better for her.
"She has her quirks but every time she's won, she's done it smartly. I think she's a very progressive filly."
The James Fanshawe-trained Higher Power is a leading fancy after chasing home last week's Ascot Gold Cup hero Big Orange in the Group Three Henry II Stakes at Sandown last month.
His jockey Tom Queally is realistic about the task facing the five-year-old, who is second top-weight on 9st 9lb.
"It's not ideal, but he's in good form. It was a good run at Sandown, so hopefully he can build on that," he said.
"I'd like to think he's a little bit better than a handicapper, but he's weighted accordingly."
Tony Hamilton expects his mount, the Richard Fahey-trained Suegioo to be putting in his best work at the finish.
"He's a bit of a law to himself because he doesn't go early in the race," he said.
"You've got to leave him alone so you end up out the back, but his last two have been good runs at Haydock and he was fifth at Ascot last week (behind Thomas Hobson)."
Latest Win Double Tip
|Date||Time / Course||Silk||Selection||Price|
|£10 Win Double Pays £66.00 with Bet365|
|21 Aug 2017||17:00 Hexham||Ebony Rose|
|21 Aug 2017||18:30 Hexham||Lovely Job|