Bookmakers Could Face Bashing With Northumberland Plate Gamble

Bookmakers Could Face Bashing With Northumberland Plate Gamble

After brushing themselves down from 'Frankie Thursday' at Royal Ascot, the bookies are taking no chances with another gamble beginning to take full stride, as Gibbs Hill continues to attract plenty of support ahead of the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle this weekend.

The Roger Varian six-year-old has been the subject to a major pre-race punt in the northern all-weather feature, with his odds plummeting from 20/1 into 6/1 clear favourite, seven days after Cape Byron bolted up in the Wokingham in Berkshire for the same trainer.

The gamble may be a bit of a surprise to some, given that he has been off the track for over 700 days due to injury.

Owner Paul Smith - son of Coolmore's Derrick Smith, suggested on Sky Sports Racing on Monday night that Varian has always had this race in mind for the emphatic Kempton winner last time out, and has been working well in his preparations at home.

The Newmarket boss is in in red-hot form after Defoe's victory in the Hardwicke at the weekend, and admitted he was unaware of the gamble when speaking on Monday.

(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "It's a long time since Gibbs Hill last ran and he had all of last year off due to injury, but his recent work has been pleasing. 

"He's been back in training since the turn of the year and this has always been the plan so long as he stood up to the pressures of training.

"His form on the synthetic surfaces has always been very good. He's off [a handicap mark of] 105 now, but he looked very good when we last saw him at Kempton just under two years ago. 

"I'm looking forward to getting him back on the track and hopefully we will have another clear week."

New sponsors Betfair - who will also have their name up in lights later in the year for the Fighting Fifth, have tried to keep on the right side of Gibbs Hill's price, and spokesman Barry Orr provided an update on their betting status.

He said: "Although he's been off the track nearly two years we heard bullish reports about his wellbeing, and so we decided to stay under the market where he was concerned."

Gibbs Hills' immediate market rivals include Mark Johnston's unbeaten five-year-old King's Advice, who has won his last six races since moving to the UK.

Charlie Hills will send Bartholomeu Dias back to Newcastle having won here back in April, whilst Roger Charlton will hope to unleash last year's winner Withhold for the first time since suffering a setback off the back of his Australian assignment in October.