Weight has played a big part in deciding the destination of the Northumberland Plate laurels in the last decade, with nine of the 10 victors carrying less than 8st 11lbs. Whilst those who carried burdens of that ilk or lower outnumbered those carrying higher weights by two to one, it still suggests that those towards the bottom of the handicap boast an advantage.
The last 10 years has also seen nine of its last 10 Plate-winners rated between 85 and 93.
The handicapper has this year’s bottom weight on a mark of 87, which makes the weight of 9st 1lbs allotted to 93-rated Ingleby Spirit all the more manageable.
Richard Fahey’s gelding found some competitive form over hurdles last term, with some strong performances in handicaps from around the 130 mark and took those high spirits onto the level, scoring in a 1m4f handicap on his first run of the flat campaign.
However it’s his next run – when second in the 2m2f Chester Cup – that makes him hard to ignore from a staying handicap perspective.
That performance saw him running on strongly at the business end of proceedings to claim a half-length silver medal under 5lb claimer George Chaloner and was just his first career run beyond 1m4f on the flat.
The handicapper has been pretty fair in his reassessment of Fahey’s gelding, upping him just 2lbs for that run. Meanwhile, he’ll be getting an extra 2lbs from Roodee conqueror Address Unknown at Gosforth Park and Tominator – a head back in third that day – will renew hostilities with an identical weight differential.
That small ratings rise won’t take into account what could be substantial improvement to come from the six-year-old as he gets his teeth into staying trips on the flat.
Ingleby Spirit has scored flat wins on all goings from soft to good-to-firm so changes in the weather will do little to hinder him and if recent runnings of the Northumberland Plate are anything to go by, his stall 18 draw may be the ideal area of the draw from which to break on the expected good ground.
Eight of the last 10 winners may have been drawn between stalls one and 14, yet both runnings on good to firm were taken by those quartered higher than 15.
The decision to bring in Tony Hamilton for the ride rather than utilise Chester pilot Chaloner’s claim – the latter will instead ride stablemate Address Unknown, a seven-length third last time – could be taken as demonstrative of the yard’s confidence in Ingleby Spirit and the 16/1 about the likely improver landing his trainer another staying prize looks a fair bet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.