Zoffee and Rajinsky are set to give trainer Hugo Palmer a strong hand in Saturday’s Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Both horses bring strong course form to the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, with Rajinsky finishing third and fourth in the last two renewals and Zoffee winning last year’s Northumberland Vase – the consolation race for the Plate – on his only previous visit to Gosforth Park.
Rajinsky made a flying start to his campaign by inflicting a shock defeat on star stayer Trueshan in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham. He was well beaten in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot next time, but bounced back to finish a close-up fifth in last month’s Chester Cup.
The admirable Zoffee filled the runner-up spot on the Roodee, going down by just a neck to Metier, and ran another fine race in defeat when sixth in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting last week.
“At this stage the plan is to run both horses,” Palmer confirmed.
“Poor old Rajinsky doesn’t get much luck with the ground in the British summers we get these days, but he ran a great race at Chester and ran a great race in the Northumberland Plate last year.
“It’s a valuable race and he goes on the surface so fingers crossed, but he does have a lot of weight.”
He added: “Zoffee appears to go on any ground and I thought he ran a really great race at Ascot, coming from far too far back from an awkward draw.
“We had runners every day at Ascot so I didn’t see him canter again until this morning (Monday), but he’s full of his usual enthusiasm and Charlotte Kerry, who rides him every day, says he feels fantastic.
“I guess we won’t really know until there’s a furlong to run on Saturday, but he’s certainly in good nick.”
Palmer’s pair were among 48 horses left in the Northumberland Plate Monday’s confirmation stage, with Rajinsky joined at the head of the weights by the William Haggas-trained Roberto Escobarr.
Haggas is also responsible for the well-fancied Post Impressionist, as well as Nathanael Greene.
Other leading hopes include Michael Bell’s recent Newmarket scorer Adjuvant and Golden Rules, who won on his first start for Deborah Faulkner at Kempton after being bought out of John and Thady Gosden’s yard for just 6,000 guineas.
Omniscient (Sir Mark Prescott), Law Of The Sea (Ian Williams) and All-Weather Marathon winner Rainbow Dreamer (Alan King) also feature.