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Duo to Pit wits in Derby battle.

Byline: BOB DOWNING

THEY have both struck gold in the last 12 months and next Saturday Tominator and Ile De Re will be forging a two-pronged Midlands attack on the race they call the Pitman's Derby.

The Northumberland Plate was first run in 1883 and is now one of the most valuable two mile handicaps in Europe.

Tominator won it last year to give veteran Rugeley trainer Reg Hollinshead and son Andrew their biggest prize of the campaign.

But this time they will face Ile De Re, installed as favourite by the bookies, who runs in the colours of Coseley fish and chip shop owner Dave Mead and for whom this race has been the target ever since he landed the Chester Cup.

But as Hollinshead and Ile De Re's handler Donald McCain put the finishing touches to their horses, both were giving out positive vibes.

Ile De Re did this last piece of serious work last Saturday and Mead said: "I spoke to Donald and he was pleased with the piece of work that he did. I have some friends who live in the Newcastle area and they have been keeping me informed about the weather conditions and it looks as though it will be ideal for him.

"Good ground would be ideal but he does like a bit of cut and that looks how it will work out.

"The one thing I am certain of is that there is improvement in my lad. One of the first things that Donald said to me last Saturday was that he had come on again from Chester."

Mead also revealed that Ile De Re nearly missed out on his golden moment at Chester.

Confirmed He said: "We did not say anything at the time but Donald had a real concern about the horse going to Chester after a slight set back but he phoned me on the Tuesday to say that whatever was troubling him had cleared up. That's why we know there is more to come."

And they already have the jockey booking confirmed with his Chester Cup partner Jim Crowley given the opportunity to ride him to glory again. Mead said: "It says something when the jockey's agent rings up two weeks before the race asking for the ride. Let's face it, he knows the horse better than me and he is very confident."

Twelve months ago, Tominator's success was also the biggest day for Paul Rickard but next Saturday it will be Tony Culhane in the saddle just as he was last time at Haydock.

Hollinshead explained: "Paul is not having a great time at the moment and I do not feel great about him losing the ride but he is a good lad and I am sure he will come through this recent spell."

Hollinshead took Tominator to Wolverhampton on Wednesday and although he conceded it was not a "electric piece of work" he added: "He has taken his time to blossom this time. He hated the ground in the Chester Cup when it was too soft for him but we had to run him because there are so few opportunities for him.

"He has, however, been dropped 3lb which will be handy and he is nicely in at the weights.

"He is guaranteed a run and it looks as though the improving three year olds will not be getting into the race. So it's very much the same old faces."

Hollinshead admitted that the yard been going through a lean spell of late but he said: "He is fit, he is coming into his coat and his work has picked up a bit so we are hopeful of a good run."

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FAVOURITE: Ile De Re winning the StanJames.com Chester Cup
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2012
Words:637
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