Turf Talk: Queen looks for luck of the Irish

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A HORSE that we shall remain faithful to as he seeks his redemption is CARLTON HOUSE, famously owned by Her Majesty the Queen, who was an unlucky third in the Epsom Derby and now goes across to the Curragh for the Irish equivalent.

He was terribly unlucky in his build up to the Derby and during the race itself. It seemed as if everything that could go wrong did go wrong. He suffered a setback at home the week before the race, severely affecting his preparation, and was then hampered in the race, before losing a shoe in running. While each incident in isolation may not have been critical there is little doubt that there would have been some cumulative effect.

He will face a largely similar field to that at Epsom, with Native Khan, Memphis Tennesee, Treasure Beach and Seville all re opposing. It could be a slightly substandard Irish Derby, and Carlton House has the class, the form and the connections that should see him comfortably home.

Another British raider seeking success across the Irish Sea this weekend is MIDDAY who bids to win the Pretty Polly Stakes. Henry Cecil’s star five year old mare has looked at her outstanding best in her two runs this season, and seems to be progressing with every race. She followed her Middleton Stakes win with a narrow defeat in the Coronation Cup at Epsom to St Nicholas Abbey, who is now ante post favourite for the King George at Ascot.

She looks to have the best form is the race and should be at peak fitness. The obvious danger is the multiple Group One winning dual Oaks heroine Snow Fairy. Snow Fairy is undoubtedly a class act but she is likely to come on for the run and will be aimed primarily at International targets in the Autumn.

In Saturday’s big race at Newcastle, the Northumberland Plate, Europe’s richest two mile handicap, I like to look for horses with proven recent form at the distance. The first of to catch the eye is last years winner, the outstanding OVERTURN, who is seeking to becoming the first back to back winner since Tug of War’s exploits in 1977/1978.

Donald McCain’s star performer has excelled on the flat, and his front running techniques are incredibly effective, as ably demonstrated once more last time out when winning the Chester Cup. Although he is up 17lb in the handicap, he looks to have a great chance, and Henry Brooke will take 5lb off for his claim too.

Another horse who looks to have a fantastic chance is the current ante post favourite ACTIVATE. The son of Motivator looked all class when winning a two mile handicap on firm ground at Haydock and he could be a step or two ahead of the handicapper. The ground is expected to be good-to-soft, and that should pose no problems. He should come on for his last run, and has been heavily backed in the past week, indicating the yard feel he has an outstanding chance. Just for good measure, one of my personal favourite jockeys, Hayley Turner, is on board.

3.05 Newcastle (Sat) Activate (Ew) & Overturn

3.35 Curragh (Sat) Midday

3.50 Curragh (Sun) Carlton House (Nap)