Alan King is under no illusions about the “huge ask” facing his stable star Trueshan in the William Hill Northumberland Plate.
An impressive winner of the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot, the five-year-old made a promising start to the current campaign when runner-up to Japan in last month’s Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Connections had been looking forward to a tilt at Gold Cup glory at Royal Ascot, but he was taken out on the day of the race because of the prevailing fast ground. As luck would have it, heavy rain later that night turned the ground bottomless for the following afternoon.
Having sidestepped his main objective, Trueshan will instead carry top-weight in the most prestigious race of Newcastle’s season on Saturday.
King said: “It was obviously very frustrating when the rain came (at Ascot) a few hours later, but I have no doubt we did the right thing taking him out – we couldn’t risk him on that ground on Thursday.
“It’s a huge ask on Saturday, I know that, but I’m just desperate to get a run into him. It’s a long time to wait for Goodwood, and if it was quick ground there and he couldn’t run again – you can’t keep them on the boil forever.
“We’ll take our chance and see what happens. At least we know the surface will suit.”
Apprentice rider Rhys Clutterbuck takes over in the saddle from Hollie Doyle, with King keen to offset some of the welter burden of 10st 4lb.
He added: “Rhys has never ridden for me, I don’t think. But I spoke to Tony Hind (jockeys’ agent), and he recommended him very highly.
“It (5lb claim) all helps, hopefully.”
The Barbury Castle handler has an interesting second string to his bow in Rainbow Dreamer, who has won six times on the all-weather and was not beaten far into fifth place in last year’s Northumberland Plate.
“He’s a much better horse on the all-weather, as we know,” said King.
“His last couple of runs on the turf have been OK, and he seems in very good order, so I’d hope he’ll run well.”
The Charlie Fellowes-trained Dubious Affair came close to making a triumphant return from eight months off the track at the Royal meeting – going down by a head to Amtiyaz in the Copper Horse Stakes.
The daughter of Frankel is turned out just 11 days later for this weekend’s Gosforth Park feature.
Fellowes said: “She ran a huge race at Ascot, where arguably she was a bit unlucky. She would have got a penalty for winning that, and in another metre we probably would have won, so we’re basically a winner running without a penalty – which is rather nice.
“You’ve just got to hope that after such a long time off she’s got over the exertions of that race and that it hasn’t left a mark on her.
“Stepping up to two miles will be no problem. I think she’ll love the track, and she likes a big field, so there’s lots of positives.
“It’s just slightly in the lap of the gods whether she’s back to 100 per cent, after what would have been a tough race at Ascot.”
Roger Varian saddles last year’s runner-up Australis, and is hopeful of another bold bid.
“He was second in the race last year and has some very good form on the all-weather,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“He had a nice run over a mile and a half on Derby day at Epsom to sharpen him up and he’s quite an interesting runner, I think.”
Mark Johnston fires a five-pronged assault in his bid to win the race for the first time since Quick Ransom struck gold in 1994 – with Mildenberger, Watersmeet, Themaxwecan, Lucky Deal and Hochfeld all declared.
The Ian Williams-trained Reshoun, a narrow and surprise winner of the Ascot Stakes last week, also features.
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