First run in 1995, The Summer Plate has come home to the Ditcheat yard of Paul Nicholls on two occasions, when Dorans Gold won in 2001, and last year, when Oddsguru’s, 9/1 selection, Alcala, brought home the bacon. Last year’s Victor is joined this time by the 7yo, Bagad Bihoue, and the ex Point to Pointer, Monsieur Gibraltar, to mount a pretty serious looking challenge for this year’s renewal by the Somerset stable.
Alcala, on a mark of 148, is only a pound higher than last year, which seems quite lenient, as this winner of six of his fifteen starts over fences, went on to win his next two contests, and might well have made it three but for slipping up on the bend before the straight just after taking it up in a Listed race at Chepstow next time. He always seemed to be travelling well within himself in last year’s contest and beat the Peter Bowen trained Wadswick Court, (also entered on Saturday) by 3/4L giving him 21lbs. The runner up went on to win a valuable Uttoxeter heat a week later, and meets Alcala on 9lbs worse terms at the weekend. Alcala has had a pretty similar preparation for this as last year, and should be primed to give it his best shot on Saturday.
Stablemate, Bagad Bihoue, has won five of his nine starts over fences and beat Alcala last time by 3 1/2L at Newton Abbot 26 days ago on his first start for seven months. He meets Alcala on 4lbs worse terms at the weekend which should bring them closer together, and it’s worth remembering that Bagad Bihoue has won after a long break in the past. He may just have had a fitness edge on his stable companion and with Sam Twiston-Davies, (has won two of the last five renewals) in the plate, Alcala is preferred.
The third Ditcheat contender, the Hunter Chaser, Monsieur Gibraltar, has won four times in that discipline and gets into Saturday’s contest on a mark of 128 but a race like Saturday’s looks a big ask on his first attempt handicapping.
Peter Bowen has won The Summer Plate a record five times and is mob handed on Saturday, but the markets would seem to suggest that his best chance of landing a sixth win, lies with his 8yo, More Bucks. A winner of four of his thirteen starts over fences, including last time when coming home 21L clear of Pickamix off a mark of 119 in a Class3 Perth Handicap four weeks ago. He is 8lbs higher on Saturday but has won of this mark in the past, (Sandown 3mGd Dec 2016), and it wouldn’t surprise to see the son of Presenting involved.
JP McManus has seen his colours carried first past the post on two previous occasions, (No strings attached 2009 and It’s a Gimme 2014) and he will be hoping for a third win with the Rebecca Curtis trained Geordie Des Champs. A winner of two of his five chases, he could only finish 5th of 18 in Uttoxeter’s Summer Cup three weeks ago, but probably found the 3m2f trip beyond him, and will find Saturday’s trip more suitable. Rated 2lbs higher over hurdles we have probably yet to see the best of the son of Robin Des Champs over the larger obstacles and is worth considering.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Calett Mad has been plying his trade over the smaller obstacles for his last seven races, but has plenty of form over fences that makes him of interest in Saturday’s Chase. His 6L victory over Roc D’Apsis at right handed Taunton in a three mile Chase off a mark of 138 in January 2017 would suggest that he may well be suited by Market Rasen’s clockwise circuit and could also be well handicapped off his mark of 143. An excellent run in the 18 runner, 4miles, 2017 National Hunt Chase, where he was in contention until the 3rd last but didn’t last home, demonstrated his ability to cope with the demands of a large field. Only six, there could be plenty more to come from the ex French son of Axxos.
The Colin Tizzard trained Vicente Du Noyer finished 3rd, 3 1/2L and a nose behind Bagad Bihoue and Alcala in that Newton Abbot heat 26 days ago and meets the winner on 4lbs better on Saturday which must give him a squeak, but it has to be noted, that the 9yo veteran of 33 races under rules, has never won going right handed.
The Peter Niven trained 7yo, Brian Borhana is already a much better chaser (130)than hurdler (114) after only five outings over the larger obstacles, and showed how progressive he is last time, when winning a Class3 Southwell Handicap comfortably from that good yardstick, Ballyboker Breeze four weeks ago. The runner up went on to win his next race and is now rated 140, which makes Peter Niven’s son of Brian Boru, look pretty well treated on 130 giving him a very nice riding weight of 10-8.
Selection : Alcala
E.W. : Calett Mad Geordie Des Champs