New look to the Summer Plate: all the insight and quotes for Market Rasen prize
2.40 Market Rasen
Betway Summer Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) | 2m5½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/RTV
The Summer Plate is one of the few races being run earlier than usual this year. The chances are it will never be quite the same again. With its status now promoted to Grade 3 level, the expectation is that more young, fresh chasers will make their way to the race in the manner that has been enforced this year by the late start to the summer jumps season.
Admittedly, it is not expected to be a regular occurrence that the top two in the betting will both arrive on the back of a 15-month absence. Lough Derg Spirit and Bags Groove were Graded-class novices in the 2018-19 season and were the type who might have turned up in the BetVictor Gold Cup had their second season not been written off. Both have had wind surgery and have been afforded an ease in the weights. They must be respected.
It is notable that, even without a run-up this year, the race has attracted such depth. Last year's runner-up, Royal Village, would normally be interesting enough to sit in the top couple in the betting. At the time of writing, you can get 14-1.
The likes of San Benedeto, Solomon Grey, Drumcliff and Potterman lend a winter handicap feel to the race and a large part of the solution will be identifying the fittest runners. None of the 17 has run over jumps recently, but a handful have had a spin on the Flat.
One to note from that group is Fidux. He has not had much racing over fences, winning a couple of summer novices last year and not really getting going in a couple of warm winter events. As a result, he has a handicap mark only 3lb higher than from which he won a Listed handicap over hurdles in 2018.
Keith Melrose, betting editor
What they say
Paul Nicholls, trainer of San Benedeto and Lough Derg Spirit
Every time I enter San Benedeto it rains. He had a run on the Flat at Ascot the other day and went okay, but it was just too soft for him. This has always been his target but we don't want any rain. He's probably in the grip of the handicapper but he's capable of running well off this mark in this company, as long as the ground stays like it is. He's fit and well, while Lough Derg Spirit has his first outing for me. He was going hunter chasing in the spring but didn't run because of the heavy ground and then racing stopped. We thought we'd target this and he's been ready for a long time. I don't know too much about him, but he's very fit and very well.
Harry Fry, trainer of Bags Groove, Drumcliff and Art Of Payroll
Bags Groove was a very good novice chaser two seasons ago when he was a dual Grade 2 winner and he was all set to run in the spring, which obviously didn't happen. He's really well in himself and the handicapper has dropped him a few pounds since he was last seen. Hopefully he'll run a nice race. He's bound to improve after a layoff, but the trip and going right-handed are ideal, while the ground will suit – as it will for all three of mine. Drumcliff is having his first run back for us after a spell in Ireland and needs to recapture some of his old form. Art Of Payroll will be much happier on this ground than when last seen and we think he's dropped to a very competitive mark, so hopefully we've got three solid chances.
Olly Murphy, trainer of Knockgraffon
He's back down to his last winning mark, but is either very good or very bad. That said, he's well up to being competitive in a race like this and a flat, right-handed track suits him well – he always seems to run well around Musselburgh.
Alan King, trainer of Potterman and Fidux
I wouldn't really favour one over the other and they both deserve to take their chance. Potterman hasn't run for a bit but usually comes to hand pretty quick. He's been in very good form at home but might just improve a touch for it. Fidux has had a warm-up run on the Flat at Wolverhampton, which should have brought him on. They're both good-ground horses, which is why they're out at the moment.
Harry Skelton, rider of Solomon Grey
He looks nicely handicapped and the trip and ground should be fine, so I'm looking forward to riding him.
Reporting by James Burn
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