ROYAL Ascot winner Commissioned was a notable absentee from the acceptors for Saturday’s historic John Smith’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
The feature handicap will be run on an artificial Tapeta surface for the first time since course executives decided to replace the turf course.
It has not affected the popularity of the race, though, with 73 horses still engaged, and for the first time there will even be a consolation race for those that miss the cut.
Simon Crisford’s Gang Warfare heads the weights, followed by Seimsos and Angel Gabrial.
Andrew Balding’s Ballynanty, not seen since all-weather finals day, and Chester Cup one-two No Heretic and Nakeeta also feature.
Norton trainer Brian Ellison will be desperate to win it with Seamour, while Tim Easterby’s Haydock winner My Reward also holds claims.
As well as No Heretic, Nicky Henderson has left in Cardinal Walter, while Cayirli, second to Commissioned on Saturday, could still run for Seamus Durack. Sir Michael Stoute’s Dannyday and Roger Varian’s Steve Rogers will be doing their best to take the prize to Newmarket.
That duo head the betting at around the 10-1 mark, with Gang Warfare and Nakeeta at 12s.
l Sword Fighter is set to be aimed at the Ladbrokes St Leger after his Royal Ascot win in the Queen’s Vase last week.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old was a surprise 33-1 winner over two miles but is in line to drop down in trip for a Classic trial, probably the Great Voltigeur at York.
O’Brien said: “He’s a staying horse. We will give him a little break and then look at something like the Voltigeur at York before the St Leger. He’s a tough horse and stays forever.”
Epsom Derby winner Harzand is the general 6-1 St Leger favourite.