Marwan Koukash: will make decision on Mount Athos on Thursday morningPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Doubtful Mount Athos on the drift for Plate
THE market for Saturday's big betting race, the John Smith's Northumberland Plate, heated up on Wednesday, with several springers including ante-post favourite Ile de Re, but former leading fancy Mount Athos was on the drift - and with good reason.
The Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old, an impressive scorer at Newmarket on his first run of the season last month, was as short as 10-1 on Monday, but 48 hours on has eased to as big as 16-1.
The Plate top-weight wes revealed a far from certain starter by the trainer's son and assistant Matty, who told the Racing Post: "My father and Dr [Marwan] Koukash will make the final decision but we fear it's not going to dry at Newcastle enough for Mount Athos to take his chance."
James Armstrong, clerk of the course at Newcastle, expects the ground to be testing during the three-day meeting, which starts on Thursday.
He said on Wednesday: "I expect it to be back to soft, heavy in places tomorrow.
"We'll keep a close eye on things as the forecast changes every half hour, but we are due further rain tonight. I expect it to be testing but it is supposed to dry up a little on Friday and Saturday."
In addition to the favourite Ile de Re, who on Wednesday night was as low as 6-1 in a place, going the right way in the market were Montaff, Palazzo Bianco and High Office.
Montaff was cut to 12-1 by several firms, including bet365, BetVictor, Blue Square and Paddy Power, having been as big as 20-1 on Tuesday evening.
Declarations for the Plate are made on Thursday morning.