Withhold Ready To Defend Northumberland Plate

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WITHHOLD READY TO DEFEND NORTHUMBERLAND PLATE

Last year's Northumberland Plate winner Withhold is ready to defend his title at Newcastle, with 42 horses remaining in the mix for the northern all-weather summer feature this weekend.

The Roger Charlton-trained six-year-old will be making his first start since finishing eighth in the Geelong Cup in Australia last October, but has been geared back to his best by his trainer, which saw him make all in this contest twelve months ago.

That victory - when landing one hell of a gamble and similar the one forming over Roger Varian's Gibbs Hill this time around, was on his first start since winning the Cesarewitch the previous October at Newmarket.

The weights have been released ahead of Saturday's highlight event, and they are headed by Hugo Palmer's impressive Kempton scorer Mootasadir.

As mentioned, Roger Varian's six-year-old [Gibbs Hill] has been attracting plenty of money since opening up at 20/1, which 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 will fancy his chances of another big-race handicap success after Cape Byron also bolted up in the Wokingham on Saturday.

Chester Cup hero Making Miracles is one of four possibilities from the Mark Johnston stable - along with the unbeaten King's Advice, who has won on all six starts since he moved to the UK.

Austrian School ran well at Sandown recently behind Gold Cup runner-up De Ex Bee, whilst Bayshore Freeway has been on a bit of a roll - winning four of her last five.

Others in the mix feature Saeed bin Suroor's Red Galileo, the Alan King-trained Who Dares Wins, and another returning star Dubawi Fifty - who finished second in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot last season for Karen McLintock, and is an all important course and distance winner.

Willie Mullins' dual purpose runner Stratum and Aidan O'Brien's talented three-year-old Barbados; second in last week's Queen's Vase, are the two Irish-trained horses left in the two-mile contest.

The final declarations and the draw for the stalls will take place on Thursday 27th June.

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