Adjuvant carrying plenty of Plate confidence from Bell

Michael Bell is optimistic Adjuvant can provide him with a second victory in the Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.

It is 16 years since the Newmarket handler saddled 5-1 favourite Juniper Girl to land the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’ and in Adjuvant he looks to have another major contender.

The four-year-old was narrowly beaten by subsequent Royal Ascot runner-up HMS President when second on his seasonal debut at Newmarket. He has since returned to the Rowley Mile to go one better, readily accounting for Pons Aelius, who recently struck gold at Goodwood.

Bell does not expect the step up to two miles or the switch to the all-weather to hinder Adjuvant this weekend and with top apprentice Billy Loughnane booked for the ride, hopes are high.

“We’re happy with the draw (seven) and he looks an improved horse this year – his racecourse performances suggest he’s improved,” Bell told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s officially a pound well-in and his form this year is very solid. He was just beaten by HMS President, who then ran very well in the Duke of Edinburgh, and then he beat Charlie Johnston’s horse who has won since.

“We’ve had one winner of the Northumberland Plate and apparently we haven’t had a runner in the race since 2009, but he’s got a very good profile.

“I think he’ll like the surface, he’s relatively lightly raced and he’s had a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford.

“There’s few chinks in his armour. He just needs Billy Loughnane to give him a good ride now!”

Adjuvant was originally being trained for the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot last week, but Bell views the fact that he did not take on Vauban as a blessing in disguise.

He added: “We were hoping to go for the Copper Horse, but I think we dodged a bullet there with Vauban.

“He hit the line very strong in both races at Newmarket and this was actually my preferred option, but the owner is a very sporting guy and could have gone to Ascot and sadly can’t get to Newcastle.

“Due to the fact horses are there to entertain the owners, Ascot was Plan A and this was Plan B, but this race is probably more suitable for him, so I’m happy.”

Adjuvant is one of 20 runners set to go to post for the £150,000 feature, with the William Haggas-trained Post Impressionist the ante-post favourite.

Other leading contenders include the Hugo Palmer-trained pair of Zoffee and Rajinsky, Deborah Faulkner’s Golden Rules and Omniscient from Sir Mark Prescott’s yard.

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