Zoffee bags Northumberland Vase victory for Curtis and Palmer

Ben Curtis delivered Zoffee with a well-timed challenge to claim top honours in the Jenningsbet Northumberland Vase at Newcastle.

While a narrow winner at Carlisle a month ago, Hugo Palmer’s charge had far more on his plate in this £75,000 consolation for the Northumberland Plate and was priced up accordingly at 16-1.

But the six-year-old, who has also won over hurdles and fences, could be spotted travelling strongly early in the straight and the further he went, the better he looked – ultimately coming home with just over two lengths in hand over Haveyoumissedme.

Curtis said: “I was in a lovely position going into the first bend, but I got shuffled all the way back so I made the decision to move out.

“I had a clean run and got behind the third horse (Mellow Magic), who brought me into the race lovely. We set sail and the rest is history.

“He has plenty of ability and they turned him out here in great shape. To be fair to Hugo, he said beforehand he’d flourished since Carlisle and I think that showed today.

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“Winners every day are good, but the big ones are even sweeter.”

Palmer, speaking from Newmarket, said: “He is quite my favourite horse. He has got the most lovely look on his face, does everything in a willing fashion, with his ears pricked. Despite the fact he’s six, because he has been jumping, I think he is actually a young, unexposed stayer.

Hugo Palmer was delighted with the victory of Zoffee
Hugo Palmer was delighted with the victory of Zoffee (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I think the Ebor closes next week, so he will have to win again to get in the Ebor. He is in the staying handicap at Newmarket at the July meeting and there’s the Cesarewitch at the backend, but he does like top of the ground.”

Raatea (11-2) threw his hat into the ring for next month’s Coral Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood with a clear-cut victory in the Pertemps Network Handicap.

A close-up third on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket in April, Julie Camacho’s sprinter had since finished down the field on the Rowley Mile and at York.

But ridden by Jason Hart, Raatea bounced back to form with a two-length verdict over Be Proud, seeing Coral trim his Stewards’ Cup odds to 16-1 from 33-1.

Raatea and Jason Hart in the Newcastle winner's enclosure
Raatea and Jason Hart in the Newcastle winner’s enclosure (Richard Sellers/PA)

“He disappointed at York, but I’m not sure it’s his track,” said Camacho.

“It (Stewards’ Cup) is a possibility. We’ll go home and discuss it with Martin (Hughes, owner) and see where he wants to go with him. He wants a race with some pace, I think that’s very important to him.”

Hollie Doyle – later successful aboard the remarkable Trueshan in the Northumberland Plate – steered the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Arabian Warrior to success in the opening Racing Welfare Handicap.

Sporting a visor for the first time, the 3-1 favourite took over the lead halfway up the straight and was always doing enough thereafter as he passed the post a length and three-quarters ahead of Midrarr.

Doyle said: “We didn’t go massively quick and he was always travelling well.

“He has had a tendency to not really finish his races out, but today the step back in trip helped.

“Saeed has given me my fair share of rides and it’s nice to ride a winner for him.”

Richard Fahey has made no secret of the regard in which he holds Clearpoint, who maintained his unbeaten record in the Jenningsbet EBF Novice Stakes.

The Ayr novice winner was due to line up as a leading contender for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot before being ruled out due to a minor setback, meaning he was rerouted to the north east.

Clearpoint was a decisive winner for Richard Fahey and Oisin Orr
Clearpoint was a decisive winner for Richard Fahey and Oisin Orr (Richard Sellers/PA)

After comfortably justifying 8-13 favouritism under Oisin Orr, the Ardad colt will belatedly get his shot at big-race honours at next month’s July Festival at Newmarket.

Fahey said: “He just didn’t scope as I wanted before Ascot, but he’s a pretty smart horse and we like him a lot.

“He’s got a great mind, he’s a very talented horse and he’ll go to the July Stakes now. I just wanted to get another run into him – I didn’t work him this week, I ran him instead.

“To be honest I think he’s a star – a future star, one of the few.”

James Horton’s Rhythm Master (12-1) led from pillar to post under a well judged ride from PJ McDonald in the Jenningsbet Handicap, while Vulcan (5-1) bagged the closing Bet With Jenningsbet Handicap for Irish Derby-winning handler Ralph Beckett.

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