McCain happy to uphold tradition with Overturn

The Northumberland Plate, one of the calendar's longest-established marathons, was first run in 1833, a year which was, topically enough, also a significant one for the nation's finances. It was then that the Treasury first became a ministerial department; the inaugural Chancellor of the Exchequer to deliver a budget under the new regime, Viscount Althorp, was a Whig, an early sort of Liberal.

One of the anomalies of the racing programme is indeed a fiscal one; absolute merit is not always the quality that is best rewarded. Saturday's venerable contest at Newcastle, a handicap that is often won by one of the lightweights, the least performers in the field, has a prize fund of £175,000, which is more than any of the Group Two races run at Royal Ascot last week and not that far adrift of the £250,000 for the Gold Cup, the premier stayers' prize, itself.

But then, the elite pinnacle being as narrow in this as any sport, it is the rank and file who keep the game afloat. And this particular race is one held in affection and enthusiasm by both public and professionals. Time was when its running provided a rare enough day out for local mining families, and though its soubriquet, "the Pitmen's Derby", is now anachronistic, perhaps a two-mile gallop round Gosforth Park demands a stolid enough work ethic.

A hurdler won the Gold Cup last week, jumps trainers have done well in the Northumberland Plate in recent seasons and three towards the top of the market for the latest renewal hail from yards most readily associated with the hard graft of obstacles. Overturn, for instance, is in the care of Donald McCain, and his victories this year have included the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

The six-year-old, runner-up in last month's Swinton Hurdle on his latest outing, won on the Flat before joining McCain last autumn. "It's a bit of a shot in the dark," said the trainer yesterday, "but it has been the plan for a while, and we swerved Ascot for a go at this. He's got the profile of a horse who could run well and I think the race will suit him; he races prominently and a strong-galloping two miles will be right up his street."

One who would dearly love to take the prize is Howard Johnson, whose Billy Row yard is just 20 miles from the track and whose principal patron, Graham Wylie, is from Newcastle. His representative Moon Indigo had a hurdles career planned when acquired as an Aidan O'Brien throw-out in October but has not raced since.

"He needed a bit of time off after we got him," said Johnson, "and then because of the bad weather we ran out of time to send him jumping. He's ready to run now, though, and stays well – that's all he does, he just keeps going and going – and we'd like to give him a couple of runs on the Flat. He wouldn't want the ground too fast but, all being well, he'll be there on Saturday."

Though steeped in tradition, neither the Northumberland Plate nor the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Sunday can hold a candle to today's Carlisle Bell, which has its roots in the 16th century and its eponymous original silver trophy in a local museum.

The Irish Derby, first run in 1866, attracted 11 declarations at the penultimate stage yesterday. Five are trained by O'Brien, going for his eighth victory and fifth in a row in a Classic that has become something of a Ballydoyle benefit.

The last four runnings have provided consolations for Dylan Thomas (third at Epsom), Soldier Of Fortune (fifth), Frozen Fire (11th) and Fame And Glory (second). This time the squad, seeking a first Classic of the year for the Co Tipperary operation, will be headed by the Epsom fourth and fifth Jan Vermeer, the early favourite for this weekend, and Midas Touch.

The last winner from these shores was the Godolphin filly Balanchine 16 years ago; Sheikh Mohammed's interests will be represented chiefly this time by the Mark Johnston-trained Monterosso, supplemented yesterday at a cost of €150,000 (£124,000) in the wake of his impressive King Edward VII Stakes win at Royal Ascot last Friday.

Turf account

* Sue Montgomery's Nap

Humidor (7.40 Bath) Came up against a sharply progressive type last time out after winning over six furlongs. Uphill finish here should suit.



* Next best

Huzzah (3.15 Salisbury) Has not won for more than two years but has come down in the weights and his last few performances have been solid enough.



* One to watch

Swinging Hawk (I Williams) Looks a worthwhile staying recruit from France, judging by his unlucky neck second in the Pontefract Cup on Sunday.

* Where the money's going

Sariska was installed 7-2 favourite for Saturday week's Eclipse Stakes by sponsors Coral after a trip to Ireland this weekend was ruled out yesterday.

* Chris Mcgrath's nap

Mataaleb (3.50 Salisbury)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain