Watch Gulf Of Naples finish fourth in the Gold Cup
Gulf favourite but hang fire suggests Johnston
TRAINER Mark Johnston warned on Monday that it was "early days" to be backing his Gulf Of Naples for this weekend's big betting race, the John Smith's Northumberland Plate, given the four-year-old's career-best performance came only last Thursday.
Gulf Of Naples excelled in the Group 1 Gold Cup to be fourth behind Colour Vision, beaten just a length and three-quarters, and after forfeits for the Plate on Monday was made outright favourite for the Newcastle handicap by William Hill (9-1) and Coral (8-1), while Paddy Power made him co-favourite at 8-1, and Ladbrokes joint market leader at that price.
Hills' spokeswoman Lucy Rhodes said: "The lightly-raced Gulf Of Naples tops another highly-competitive renewal following his superb effort to finish a close-up fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup."
Mark Johnston: could run threePICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Johnston, however, who has fellow Royal Ascot performers Eternal Heart and Becausewecan engaged in the Plate, told the Racing Post: "All three have come out of their races fine but it is still early days - they only ran on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week - and we will see how they are."
Johnston added that his trio acted on heavy ground, without necessarily being well suited by it, with clerk of the course James Armstrong reporting: "I think it is likely the meeting will start on soft ground. Whether it is good to soft in places or heavy in places depends on how much rain we get."
"Donald McCain is a force to be reckoned with in big staying handicaps on the level and having trained Overturn to win a Northumberland Plate and Chester Cup he'll be looking to repeat the dose with Ile De Re at Newcastle this weekend," said Betfred's spokesman George Primarolo.