The Northumberland Plate: A Brief History

The most valuable race in the North East, the Northumberland Plate, will be centre stage this weekend as the ITV camera’s descend on Newcastle to showcase what’s locally also known as “The Pitmen’s Derby”. The race that would ordinarily feature as part of a two day festival will take place this Saturday, forming the centrepiece of the stand alone fixture that also features an additional two Group 3 contests.


The Northumberland Plate race itself is a flat handicap open to horses aged three years or older. It is run over a distance of 2 miles and 56 yards (3,270 metres). The event was initially held at Town Moor, and it was part of a meeting first staged at Killingworth in 1623. It was transferred to its present venue at Gosforth Park in 1882. The Northumberland Plate originally took place on a Wednesday, and for many years the meeting was a holiday for local miners; hence why the race became popularly known as the “Pitmen’s Derby”. The meeting ceased to be a holiday in 1949, and the race was switched to a Saturday in 1952. When Newcastle Racecourse constructed its new all-weather racetrack in 2016, the race was switched from turf to be contested on the synthetic surface.


Most successful horse (3 wins): Underhand – 1857, 1858, 1859 Leading jockey since 1985 (2 wins): Willie Carson – Al Maheb (1990), Celeric (1996); and Kevin Darley – Far Cry (1999), Bay of Islands (2000) Leading trainer since 1985 (3 wins): Paul Cole – Windsor Castle (1997), Cyrian (1998), Archduke Ferdinand (2001)

2020 Protagonists

The hotly contested 2020 renewal features a number of exciting horses looking to make their mark and step up towards the bigger marathon races on offer throughout the Flat season. In form trainer Roger Varian saddles the favourite Australis, who will be hoping to continue his remarkable rise up the handicap ranks. Elsewhere, serial winner Rainbow Dreamer has his connections hoping he’ll be paying another visit to the winners’ enclosure. The seven-year-old has won four of his last five races and will have the able assistance from the saddle of red hot rider Hollie Doyle. The colourfully named stayer’s trainer Alan King is also in scintillating form, having bagged three Royal Ascot winners from just five runners last week; including one with the aforementioned Doyle. He also knows what it takes to win the contest as his stable star Who Dares Wins stuck on gamely under Tom Marquand to claim the big prize last season.