Ile De Re Battles to Plate Victory
1 Ile De Re 5/2F
Donald McCain pulled off another impressive training feat as Chester Cup hero Ile De Re followed up with a battling effort in heavy ground to bag the John Smith's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Already fully established as one of the sport's top National Hunt trainers, McCain is fast becoming the man to be with when he is represented in some of the most prestigious Flat handicaps in the land.
The Cheshire handler struck with magnificent dual-purpose performer Overturn in the 2010 Plate and the 2011 Chester Cup, but Ile De Re went one better by becoming the first horse since Attivo in 1974 to land the two attritional contests in the same season.
Showing the type of appetite for racing that is fast becoming a trademark of McCain-trained horses, the heavily-backed 5-2 favourite was ridden close to the pace throughout the two-mile contest by Jim Crowley.
There was a roar from the packed grandstands as the market leader went to the front rounding the final turn, but he appeared at the mercy of the strong-travelling Icon Dream and Crackentorp halfway up the straight.
However, Ile De Re was not keen to relinquish his advantage and summoned up tremendous courage in ground which was close to unraceable following the ferocious storm that hit the track on Thursday, to claim a famous triumph.
McCain said: "He got stuck out a bit wide and a bit far back and then got a bit keen, so Jim let him get on with it. It meant he was in front a long way from home, but people know our horses, they tend to be in that position often and whenever one has come to him, he's gone again.
"I had him three weeks before Chester. I've got a great team at home and when we have a target, it's not very often they get it wrong. I don't know what's next. He's had two very tough races now, so we'll get him home and go quietly for a couple of weeks and see how he is.
"I'm already looking forward to the winter with him. I think I've got a very well-handicapped hurdler on my hands if I get my way!"
Former NH jockey Crowley, who along with Crackentorp's rider David Allan picked up a two-day whip ban, said: "It's fantastic. I used to ride a lot of jump winners round here so it's a race I've always wanted to win. He tries his hardest, but he's absolutely knackered. It's hard work, it's like being jumping again."
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