At Royal Ascot last week, Johnny Murtagh and Eddie Ahern showed just how rewarding can be the role of supersub. Murtagh picked up the mount on Deacon Blues after Hayley Turner opted to ride elsewhere, and promptly won the Wokingham Handicap. And Ahern replaced the temporarily injured Kieren Fallon on Ascot Stakes winner Veiled.
On Saturday it may be the turn of young apprentice Henry Brooke, set to be pulled off the bench for the plum ride on Overturn as the gelding goes for back-to-back Northumberland Plates at Newcastle. Last year's victory in Europe's most valuable two-mile handicap, and his success in last month's Chester Cup, came under Ahern, who is currently suspended.
Overturn, a winner eight times on the Flat and over hurdles with seven different riders in the saddle, is due to carry top weight on Saturday and Brooke's 5lb allowance can reduce the burden. "There's a strong possibility we'll claim off the horse with Henry," said trainer Donald McCain, "and it will be good for him to be on a high-profile horse."
Brooke has yet to ride the seven-year-old, second favourite for the Plate behind recent Haydock scorer Activate, in public, or notch a Flat winner. But he has succeeded 21 times under jumping rules. "He's caught the eye a few times during the winter," added McCain, "and I'd be more than happy for him to ride Overturn over hurdles so he may as well ride him on the Flat."
The next target for the ex-Australian star So You Think, now at Ballydoyle, will be a meeting with Workforce in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in 11 days' time, while all four of the Co Tipperary yard's Derby runners – Treasure Beach, Memphis Tennessee, Recital and Seville – will try on Sunday to give their trainer, Aidan O'Brien, a sixth successive Irish Derby, and an eighth in 11 years.
No sooner had the former champion Ryan Moore leapfrogged Paul Hanagan in the betting for the jockeys' title than the holder found his form again. At Wolverhampton yesterday Hanagan struck on Shamaal Nibras, his first winner for 40 rides and 12 days, and made it a double on Royal Bajan.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Eltheeb (3.15 Beverley)
Made significant late progress on his previous visit to today's track. That was his first Flat start for his present yard; has won over this trip off 1lb lower.
* Next best
Spade (7.45 Newbury)
Ring-rusty on her seasonal debut and appeared not to get home over further last time. The drop back in trip and application of headgear may be enough.
* Where the money's going
Midday is 5-6 favourite with Paddy Power to take a sixth top-level prize in Saturday's Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, with Snow Fairy 2-1.