Ile De Re stars in Plate entry
Ante-post favourite Ile De Re features among a field of 20 declared runners for Saturday's John Smith's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Trainer Donald McCain won the prestigious Gosforth Park handicap with the loveable Overturn two years ago and this season's contender looks to have major claims having beaten his stable companion in the Chester Cup.
Sir Mark Prescott has historically done extremely well with staying handicappers and he saddles the talented Motivado, who steps up to two miles for the first time on what will be his first appearance of the season.
Gulf Of Naples returns to handicap company having run a blinder to finish fourth in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last week.
Last year's winner Tominator is a notable absentee, but the horse that chased him home 12 months ago, Mick Channon's Montaff, is back for more.
Figaro, Crackentorp, The Betchworth Kid and Palazzo Bianco are also in the field, but leading fancies Mount Athos, Thimaar and Steps To Freedom have been withdrawn.
Newcastle clerk of the course James Armstrong is keeping his fingers crossed Gosforth Park misses the worst of the rain ahead of the three-day fixture, which begins this afternoon.
Although an official course inspection has not been called at this stage, the going is already described as heavy, and further rainfall is on the way.
"We might well see some rain later on this afternoon," Armstrong said on Thursday morning.
"The latest forecast I read suggests there could be some thundery showers creeping towards us.
"Because they are thundery in nature, it could mean we just get a small amount of rain, or we could get a bucket-load.
"It's hard to put a figure on how much rain we could take, but obviously the ground is heavy now and we're fairly near (the amount of rain course could take).
"I think we could take a bit more, but if we get another 10 to 15 millimetres, we might be in trouble.
"We're perfectly safe to race at this stage and we'll just have to see what happens later on."
Armstrong is hopeful rather than confident weather conditions will improve ahead of Saturday's meeting.
"I think things are a little better heading towards the weekend, but the forecast is literally changing every half hour," said Armstrong.
"I think it's due to be slightly showery in the morning, but it's an ever-changing picture."