Withhold dazzles from the front in Northumberland Plate

Melbourne Cup the target after favourite does it in style

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Withhold ran the opposition into the ground as he made all in the Stobart Rail & Civils Northumberland Plate Handicap at Newcastle.

Absent since he won the Cesarewitch in impressive fashion in October, Roger Charlton’s five-year-old overcame his long absence in the style of a classy stayer.

Robert Winston was able to dictate the race from the front and supporters of the 5-1 favourite barely had an anxious moment.

Watersmeet tried to keep tabs on the leader right from the off, but he could not compete with Withhold once he went into top gear.

Withhold, owned by Brighton chairman Tony Bloom, galloped away to win by two and three-quarter lengths from Prince Of Arran, who stayed on well for second place.

Sir Chauvelin was three and a quarter lengths back in third, with Watersmeet half a length further away in fourth.

Beckhampton trainer Charlton was at Newmarket, where he told Press Association Sport: Charlton said: “The form of the Cesarewitch was well franked. Those first four or five horses have all run well, so the form was very solid.

“I guess in hindsight the handicapper could have put him up a little bit more. He will obviously go up another 10lb or so, I guess, but he is a nice horse.

“Watching him round there, it looked like he was going quite slowly, but he has got a good cruising speed and is a very straightforward, nice horse.

“We were always going to be in the first three and we thought one of Mark Johnston’s would go forward, but they never had the chance to get there, so Robert just kept it simple and he was never really that hard on him to do it.

“All the horses have been slow to come to hand. Out of our last six runners, five have won but before that we were all over the shop and had more lasts than firsts.

“The weather and bad scopes have been a problem, which included Withhold, as he wasn’t quite right. We’ve had to be patient, but patience pays off.

“He has been working with Second Step, who is rated 110. His form, I guess, was above his rating.”

Looking to the future, Charlton said: “I’ve got to check the conditions of getting into the Melbourne Cup, but that is the long-term aim.

“Depending on what we need to do to qualify, he will probably do the minimum before we go to Australia. I’m not going to run him all summer, as the target is the Melbourne Cup.”

Withhold dazzles from the front in Northumberland Plate
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