Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Victory could be on a plate for trainer Willie Mullins

Treble chance: Willie Mullins will have three runners at Newcastle

Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins looks to have a strong hand in Saturday's John Smith's Northumberland Plate, with three entries in the Newcastle event. Simenon, which was fifth in last week's Ascot Gold Cup, heads the weights after 60 horses were left in the race known locally as the 'Pitmen's Derby,' while stablemate Pique Sous is likely to start favourite if he lines up following last Saturday's win in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

Mullins has also confirmed the Graham and Andrea Wylie-owned Lucky Bridle for the two-mile feature.

All three Mullins representatives are guaranteed a place in the maximum 20-strong line-up for the Heritage Handicap.

Meath handler Tony Martin, who lifted the prize in 2009 with Arc Bleu, has two possibles in Dark Crusader and Thomas Edison, but both need horses to come out in order to take their chance, while Sir Ector is a possible for Armagh trainer James Lambe.

Suegioo and Angel Gabrial, the first and second in the Chester Cup, could do battle again while another smart stayer in the mix includes Andrew Balding's Whiplash Willie.

Officials at the Curragh will continue to monitor the weather forecast before deciding whether to water this week ahead of their three-day Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival.

Conditions are set to change around midweek with rain forecast and racecourse manager Paul Hensey said they would assess the situation on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Al Naamah received an introductory quote of 20/1 from Paddy Power for next year's Epsom Oaks after the record-breaking purchase made an impressive bow at Chantilly.

Sheikh Joaan's Al Shaqab Racing operation paid the highest price for a yearling in European auction history when spending five million guineas on the full-sister to Oaks winner Was, by Galileo out of Alluring Park.

French superstar Treve is expected to be fit enough to defend her crown in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October. The filly was found to have pulled muscles in her quarters when finishing third at Royal Ascot.

The four-year-old will be given time to recover before a comeback run ahead of the Arc in the Prix Vermeille in September.

"She went to post very badly in the Prince of Wales and it turns out she's got a pulled muscle over the top of her quarters," said Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing.

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