Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley looks ahead to the Pitman’s Derby in his exclusive Racing Plus and Yahoo Sport UK column, and provides insight into on his rides over the next few days…
By Jim Crowley
Change is in the air in more ways than one. What the Brexit from the European Union means for racing in this country is unclear.
There is the potential for the economy to have a little bit on a dip initially and I was a little bit sad to see David Cameron resign, as I think he has been a fantastic Prime Minister.
However, things will take time before we see any significant adjustment and it will be business as usual for those buying and selling horses, I should imagine.
There also been a little modification to one of the biggest staying handicaps on the calendar. The Northumberland Plate is now being run on an all-weather surface.
Newcastle’s new all-weather track has been getting very good reviews from those who have ridden on it and, over time, it will be a boon to the northern trainers.
Better known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, the Northumberland Plate was first established in 1833 and it is so known because the local miners were given the day off to go and watch it.
Today, I aptly ride a horse who digs deep when you ask him to.
Arch Villain (4.15) has a plum draw in stall one. Trained by my sister-in-law Amanda Perrett, he has won four of his last six and absolutely loves the all-weather.
He had a tendon injury which kept him off for nine months before he won on his comeback at Lingfield in January (below, right). Then he won a two-mile conditions race off a mark of 98 the following month. He has not run since.
The plan was originally to go for the All-Weather Marathon Championship at Lingfield, but he missed that as he had a minor setback. I would have had a tough choice between him and Moonrise Landing, but I was lucky Arch Villain didn’t turn up and I partnered Ralph Beckett’s horse to victory.
Arch Villain is very easy ride, Amanda’s horses are running well and I think he’s overpriced at around 16/1, purely because he has not run for four months.
He runs well fresh, he is a prominent racer who stays really well and, if he is going to win a big pot, this could be it.
I’ve also got a ride for Chris Gordon, who is one of the funniest guys I know – he has a terrific sense of humour. He is also not a bad trainer, either.
He does really well with his jumpers, and that is not really a surprise considering he used to be one of the top point-to-point riders in the country.
Chris, whom I’ve known for around 15 years, is based in Hampshire and to my mind, does not get anywhere near the recognition he deserves.
He started off on a small scale buying other people’s cast-offs and building them up. Lightentertainment flew the flag for the stable last season, at one stage winning five of six over hurdles, proof positive that if you give Chris the ammunition, he will get the best out of them and improve them.
He saddles Albahar (3.40) in the in the Northumberland Vase Handicap.
I won on him over two miles off a mark of 78 on the Polytrack at Chelmsford in February and William Buick won a decent handicap on him over the same trip at Goodwood last time off 83. His only runs which were sub-par came on good to firm ground, so you can discount them.
He is an improving horse and likes the all-weather, winning twice in five attempts. He also stays very well, but on the downside, the five-year-old has a bad draw – he’s out in the car park in stall 18.
Despite the trip, a wide draw can have a big impact, particularly at Newcastle. He has also gone up another 9lb for that Goodwood win last month, so will need a career-best to get close. You’d have to be hopeful rather than confident.
We will all have one eye on the Irish Derby. Algometer, my Epsom ride, is not taking part – I think would have been hard to turn the form around with Harzand (5.20 Curragh) – and neither is Us Army Ranger, which is a shame because I felt he was the best horse and it would have been good to see them clash again.
One for the notebook
Sometimes you get days when horses you think will run well don’t. Other days, you are nicely surprised. On Thursday, Emmie was a pleasant surprise.
I have been lucky for her owner, Mary-Anne Parker, before. In 2012, I rode a filly of hers called Roz, who won nicely and then was second in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
Emmie made her debut at Newbury over seven-furlongs at Newbury and I was quite taken with her after she won really well. I told Harry Dunlop that I thought the daughter of High Chaparral could be very smart and had a job pulling her up. She’ll get further.
Let’s hope there are a couple of nice surprises next week.
Windsor is the destination on Monday and Catchment (6.55) is a nice filly. She has been runner-up on a couple of occasions and should go close in a maiden fillies’ race off a mark of 75. She should go close.
I have a few rides at Brighton on Tuesday with the pick of them appearing to be Sixties Love (3.45), who always runs well there. She has been second on her last four visits and we appear to have got her trip right now. Hopefully, she can go one better.
Canford Belle (2.15) should also go close. She was stopped when making her run last time and she is down to a mark of 55, which is just 1lb higher than when last scoring.
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