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All you need to know about Newcastle's big betting heat

Plate contender Seamour and trainer Brian Ellison have a read of Thursday's Racing Post
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3.30 Newcastle
Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate Handicap | Heritage Handicap | 2m½f | 3yo+ | ITV/ATR

The biggest smile at Gosforth Park on Saturday would belong to Brian Ellison if he can finally land the race he covets the most. It would also be a fitting belated birthday present for the Newcastle-born trainer, who turned 65 on Wednesday.

Ellison has had the favourite for the Plate for the last two years with Seamour, and hopes are high the six-year-old can make it third time lucky.

Sixth in 2015, it was last year's defeat that was an exercise in agony, as Seamour swept to the front, only to be gobbled up late by Antiquarium.

Drawn in 11, Ben Curtis should have plenty of options as to how to ride the race, and Ellison said: "He's drawn in the middle so we can't complain. Everything's fine with him and we're looking for a big run.

"I think my fellow is probably one of the best horses I've trained and we just want that bit of luck."

How does the Plate play out on Tapeta?

Last year marked the biggest change in the Plate's history since it was first staged in 1833, when it was run on the new Tapeta surface rather than turf.

Traditionalists may have found the change difficult to bear, but last year's race did provide a thrilling finish. Jockeys riding at the new-look Newcastle have commented that you need to have a good stayer to see out the stiff finish.

Therefore it may be worth looking at horses who can come from off the pace to strike late, rather than go for those who like to be in front but could be vulnerable at the business end of the race.

A sample size of one does not really lend itself to any concrete conclusions on riding style, but low draws have been profitable on turf as well as Tapeta.

Antiquarium came out of stall three, and you have to go back to Tominator's first Plate win in 2011 to find a winner in a double-figure berth. 

Another Prescott plot?

When a horse trained by Sir Mark Prescott is towards the head of the market for a big handicap, an involuntary shiver goes down the spines of bookmakers.

Step forward, Flymetothestars. The four-year-old certainly bears the hallmarks of a typical Prescott-trained improver, having won three of his four starts, most recently over course and distance.

Since Newcastle changed surfaces, Prescott has been a trainer to note at the track. He has had nine winners from 33 runners (27 per cent) and that improves to 33 per cent (three from nine) this year.

Prescott said: "His record is good. The handicapper took no chances with him when he won at Newcastle, but the second [Endless Acres] ran very well at Ascot so the form looks strong enough. Will he be experienced and is he good enough? I don't know."

Trip, track and ground

There may be 20 runners to wade through, but if you want a quick way to narrow down the field, apply the course-and-distance filter.

Only four horses are left and they are Flymetothestars, Gavlar, Natural Scenery and Good Run.

Favourites feared?

Since 2007, the market leader has only scored three times, the most recent being Angel Gabrial in 2014.

For those seeking value, the race has been a good source with five double-figure price winners, but Antiquarium was the first since 2011.

The list of jockeys to have won the race in recent years contains a few names who have since hung up their saddles, but there are two previous winners in Saturday's field. Luke Morris [Flymetothestars] won aboard Juniper Girl in 2007, while Graham Lee [Maleficent Queen] was on Tominator in 2013.

What they say

Peter Niven, trainer of Clever Cookie
I was hoping for a midfield draw and wishing it was on turf! He's going to have to go backwards from that draw [20] but they do fan out in the straight, so you never know. I genuinely think he's better than handicap class still but he's getting older and he's gone down to a mark for a race worth a lot of money.

James Fanshawe, trainer of Higher Power, Lord George and Sam Missile
All three are drawn over ten which isn't ideal. Higher Power ran very well at Sandown and likes the all-weather. He's got plenty of weight but has good form. It's a case of whether Lord George and Sam Missile stay. Lord George has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and I've always felt he'd be suited by going further. Sam Missile has given the indication he'll stay further.

Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer Natural Scenery and Good Run
Natural Scenery did very well in the winter. She has had a break and has been working nicely. Good Run is in good form and his last piece of work was good.

Charlie Johnston, assistant and son of Mark Johnston, trainer of Jaameh and Yorkidding
Jaameh is a horse we've always liked. He's done the growing up he needed to do and goes into the race off the back of two wins. He's a progressive horse, the trip's fine and the draw is good so I'd be hopeful he'll run a big race. Yorkidding has been kept busy to say the least but she thrives on her racing. The key to her is quick ground and a galloping track so I think conditions at Newcastle will be fine. This trip is her optimum now and if she brings her A game she won't be too far away.

Jim Goldie, trainer of Sir Chauvelin
He ran well in the consolation last year and is in good form. He's well drawn and ticks a lot of boxes. I would think he'll be a player.

William Knight, trainer of Gavlar
He got shuffled back in the race quite badly last year which didn't suit but he's a course-and-distance winner and I think he'll run well though it is very competitive.

Everything's fine with Seamour and we're looking for a big run
E.W. Terms