Nicholas T seeks unique double in John Smith’s Cup

Nicholas T bids to complete a unique double when he lines up for the John Smith’s Cup at York.

Jim Goldie’s versatile nine-year-old came from last to first to win the Northumberland Plate over two miles at Newcastle two weeks ago.

He has to carry a double penalty of 8lb on Saturday, because he had been successful over a mile and a half at York on his previous start.

That was Goldie’s plan to ensure Nicholas T had enough weight to make the cut for the maximum 22-runner field for this prestigious handicap over an extended 10 furlongs.

“He’s won over the course. He is up the handicap a bit – but according to the handicapper, we are 1lb well in. He’s well enough, he’s still in good form and has come out of the race well,” said the Glasgow trainer.

“Two miles down to a mile and two (furlongs) won’t be a bother. He was a mile-two horse before that.

“Being drawn 16, we’ll just drop him in like we did at Newcastle and hopefully he’ll close at the finish and he’ll be in front of them all.

“It was the plan to get two penalties to get him in this race. He has got in, so you never know. Sometimes a plan does come together.”

Jim Goldie has had the John Smith's Cup as a long-term plan for Nicholas T
Jim Goldie has had the John Smith’s Cup as a long-term plan for Nicholas T (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’d prefer slightly faster ground. If it’s good ground I’ll be delighted and be a player. If it’s soft it will compromise him.”

Connections of Astro King are hoping for better luck than the four-year-old had in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt led home the near side group but had to settle for second place behind Real World, who had scooted clear on the far side of the track.

“He was second in the Hunt Cup. He came up the stands side, and the horse that beat him was on the far side,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail.

“That was bad luck, because most winners were coming up the stands side. He’s going well, and we’re very hopeful.

“I’d prefer if he was drawn a bit lower (14), but he’s got a chance. He’s working well, and we’re happy with him.”

Astro King (second left) is said to be in good form ahead of the York feature
Astro King (second left) is said to be in good form for the York feature (Tim Goode/PA)

Joe Tuite has had this race in mind for Surrey Pride since he struck over the course and distance on his seasonal debut eight weeks ago.

“We’ve aimed him at this race since he won at York in May,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“We took a chance in not running him, because he could have missed the cut, but it became clear on Monday he had made it.

“His form has worked out – we’re looking forward to running him, and everything looks in place.”

Surrey Pride (left) was a winner at York in May
Surrey Pride (left) was a winner at York in May (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Saeed bin Suroor has never won the race before – but his Bright Start would not be a shock winner, given his level of consistency.

While he has won just once in nine races to date, he never finished outside the first four and was beaten just a short head by the highly-rated Montather last time out.

“He’s doing well. He’s in good form – I’m happy with him, and he’s working well,” said the Godolphin trainer.

“The trip will suit him, and it looks the right race for him. He’s very consistent – the ground will be fine, but he has form on all ground anyway.

“It will be tough to win. But he’s working well, seems in condition, so I’m looking to see a good run from him.”

John Smith’s Cup aim for Northumberland Plate conqueror Nicholas T

Nicholas T will bid to provide trainer Jim Goldie with a second victory in the John Smith’s Cup at York following his thrilling triumph in Saturday’s Northumberland Plate.

The nine-year-old came from last to first to land the Newcastle showpiece under Ben Robinson and is set to turn out a fortnight later for another prestigious prize Goldie won with stable stalwart Euchen Glen in 2018.

Goldie said: “He’s come out of the race grand – he only really raced for half a furlong!

“He’ll get in the John Smith’s Cup. Up until winning over two miles on Saturday, his best trip was a mile and a quarter, so I would think we’ll go down that route.”

If Nicholas T can bag a second big-race victory on Saturday week, he will likely return to the Knavesmire in August for a tilt at the Ebor.

“To get in the Ebor he’ll probably need to win that (John Smith’s Cup). He’s rated 100 now and to get in the Ebor I would imagine you’d have to be 106 or 107, so he’ll need to win again,” Goldie added.

“Anyway, it can be done.”

Nicholas T swoops late for Northumberland Plate prize

Nicholas T sprang a 33-1 surprise when getting up close home to land the William Hill Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.

Jim Goldie’s nine-year-old, wearing a hood for the first time, was produced on the far side of the all-weather course to lead inside the final furlong and deny long-time leader Hochfeld, giving jockey Ben Robinson his biggest success in the saddle in the process.

Hochfeld had been prominent throughout the extended two-mile test with Australis, Rajinsky, Reshoun and the 5-2 favourite Trueshan among those up with the pace.

There was all to play for when the 20 runners turned for home in the prestigious staying handicap.

Hochfeld (28-1) was proving hard to pass but Nicholas T, carrying a 5lb penalty for a victory at York two weeks ago, wore down Mark Johnston’s charge to take the £81,000 first prize by half a length.

Rajinsky (16-1), who crossed the line in fourth place, was promoted to third following a stewards’ inquiry with Island Brave (16-1) demoted to fourth.

Robinson said: “I’m lost for words. My only doubt was staying the two miles as he can be a keen-travelling horse. I switched him off out the back and he got a lovely run up. He put it to bed really well.

“It’s unbeatable. It’s a race that Brian Ellison, my boss, has wanted to win all his career and for me to win it, for someone else, is really good.

“Jim is a very, very good trainer and he always manages to get one or two decent animals. This horse has never put a foot wrong.”

Goldie admitted victory in the historic contest had long been an ambition of his.

He said: “It’s one of those races that was kind of on my bucket list.

“It’s a great race and a traditional race. Sir Chauvelin has been placed in the race before, but it’s a hard race to win.

“Nicholas T won over a mile and a half here (in November) by almost five lengths. Phil Dennis (jockey) said he couldn’t believe he picked up like that as stayers don’t. You saw that again today – from last to first.

Ben Robinson after winning the Northumberland Plate on Nicholas T
Ben Robinson after winning the Northumberland Plate on Nicholas T (Tim Goode/PA)

“He had to go to York for a ladies race, which got him the penalty to get into this.”

Asked where the victory ranked in his career highlights, he said: “On the day it’s always very good.

“To be honest, when I won the Grand Sefton over the Grand National fences (with Lampion Du Bost in 2007), that was huge, and then I went and did it the next year with Endless Power.

“To win this race is great.”

Nicholas T provides Amie Waugh with Queen Mother’s Cup success

Jim Goldie’s veteran Nicholas T provided jockey Amie Waugh with the most prestigious winner of her career to date when getting up in the Queen Mother’s Cup at York.

One of the most notable races on the calendar restricted to lady amateur riders, perhaps of particular interest for some of the winning jockeys down the years is the fact that you also win your weight in champagne.

Nicholas T was sent off at 100-30, and when a gap appeared between Sameem and Arctic Fox the nine-year-old quickened up to win by a length.

“It’s great to just get a ride in a race like this, never mind win it,” said Waugh.

Amy Waugh being weighed in champagne
Amie Waugh being weighed in champagne (Nick Robson/PA)

“To be fair, he was very straightforward. We went a nice gallop, and that made it easier for me. He travelled nicely – and coming up the straight, I didn’t know which way to go, but luckily we got a gap.

“We could have gone either way really, but the gap made it straightforward.

“Once he got to the front, if anyone had come at him he stuck his head out and tried again – so he made it easy.

“This is definitely my best winner by far – and to get the champagne is nice. I might be complaining about it on Monday morning, anyway!”

Baashir (right) and Jim Crowley just pip Paul Hanagan and National League
Baashir (right) and Jim Crowley just pip Paul Hanagan and National League (Tim Goode/PA)

Jim Crowley has the thrill of riding Battaash to look forward to at Royal Ascot next week, and warmed up with a winner for the same connections as Baashir came home just in front in the JCB Handicap.

The 9-2 favourite, trained by Charlie Hills and owned by Shadwell, edged out the Paul Hanagan-ridden National League by a head.

Crowley said: “He wasn’t doing a stroke in front – he got here easily enough, but when the other horse came I thought we were in trouble. Fair play, he got back up.

“He’s got low mileage but plenty of ability. A couple of times things haven’t quite gone right for him, but he got the job done today.”

Bosh and Tom Marquand (right) has his head down where it matters
Bosh and Tom Marquand (right) has his head down where it matters (Tim Goode/PA)

Tom Marquand will head to Ascot in fine form. A winner on Thursday was followed by a double on Friday – and he was in double form at York, too.

Having already taken the feature Grand Cup on William Haggas’ Roberto Escobarr, he teamed up with Richard Hannon on Bosh (5-2) to win the Reg Griffin Appreciation Maiden Stakes in a photo from Kevin Ryan’s newcomer Gis A Sub.

Roger Fell’s La Trinadad (4-1) landed some hefty bets when winning the Ice Co Supporting Macmillan Handicap by a head from Delgrey Bay – kickstarting a double in the last two races for jockey Jason Hart.

Fell said of his winner: “He’s a nice horse, and this was a drop in class today.

“Everyone keeps telling me he’s a Cambridgeshire horse. He’s got an engine.

“He was actually the slowest breezer at Doncaster when we bought him. He’s one of those horses who is a machine one day and not so good the next. He’s got a big handicap in him, bigger than today.”

Hart completed his double when John Quinn’s in-form sprinter Mr Wagyu made it a hat-trick in the space of  10 days, by two and a quarter lengths at 13-2 in the closing Sky Bet Handicap.