Richard Fahey: thinks Gabrial The Hero has a big chance
PICTURE: Caroline Norris (racingpost.com/photos)
By Lee Mottershead 7:01AM 25 JUN 2016
THESE are indeed changing times. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, Scotland could be heading to independence and now the Northumberland Plate is being held on an all-weather surface for the first time.
Inaugurated in 1833, the Plate was moved to its current Gosforth Park home in 1881, back when nobody had heard of the word Tapeta. Now it is very much part of the racing dictionary and, following the Arena Racing Company’s controversial decision to dig up Newcastle’s Flat turf track, the highlight of the north-east racing calendar will today look very different.
Not so different are the competitors. Angel Gabrial, the 2014 winner and last year’s sixth, returns for trainer Richard Fahey, who believes Marwan Koukash’s other runner, Gabrial The Hero, has a better chance.
The trainer said: “I would favour Gabrial The Hero. I do fancy him and think he has a big chance. I thought he would be favourite. I know he only won by a neck at Lingfield two starts ago but I felt he could have won by half the track. He then ran really well in a messy Chester Cup, in which he did everything wrong but still wasn’t beaten far.
“Can Angel Gabrial win the Plate off his rating? I’d say probably not but I’m happy with him and we’re taking 7lb off his back.”
Back on the all-weather
Favourite for the race is Steve Rogers, who was also market leader for the Chester Cup, but was unable to land a blow.
Trainer Roger Varian is expecting better, as he said: “He has been working well and looks in great shape. He has a good record on the all-weather and is well drawn in four. He should run very well.”