Aidan O’Brien’s Queen’s Vase runner-up Barbados is an intriguing contender still on course to face last year’s winner Withhold in the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Barbados and Wille Mullins’ Stratum both figure among 42 horses to stand their ground at the five-day confirmation stage for Saturday’s handicap over an extended two miles.
Paul Cole’s Archduke Ferdinand is the only three-year-old winner of the race this century, back in 2001 – but Barbados may bid to buck the trend, only 10 days after his fine run at Royal Ascot.
Stratum has not run on the Flat for seven months, but was a long odds-on winner over hurdles at Ballinrobe at the end of May.
Roger Charlton’s Withhold made all when comfortably landing the spoils at Gosforth Park 12 months ago, on his first start since winning the Cesarewitch the previous October.
His only subsequent start came in the Geelong Cup eight months ago, and he is rated 8lb higher than when he was successful in the Plate last summer.
The weights are headed by Hugo Palmer’s Mootasadir, while ante-post favourite Gibbs Hill is also in the list. Roger Varian’s charge has been absent since scoring at Kempton in July 2017.
Chester Cup hero Making Miracles is one of four possibles from the Mark Johnston stable – along with Austrian School, prolific winner King’s Advice and Bayshore Freeway, who was successful at Pontefract on Sunday.
Others in the mix include Red Galileo, Who Dares Wins, Dubawi Fifty, Coeur De Lion, Bartholomeu Dias and Ascot Stakes third Time To Study.