Nakeeta back to his best ahead of tilt at Pitmen's Derby glory

IAIN Jardine is confident Nakeeta is 'as good as ever' ahead of his tilt at the Northumberland Plate on Saturday.

Nakeeta, ridden by Callum Rodriguez, wins the Ebor last August.

The seven-year-old enjoyed a fantastic campaign last season, winning the Ebor at York before finishing fifth in the Melbourne Cup.

He never threatened to land a blow on his reappearance in last month’s Chester Cup, but Jardine is hopeful he can bounce back in the £150,000 feature at Newcastle known as the Pitmen’s Derby.

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Jardine said: “He goes to the Plate on Saturday and we’re looking forward to it. He never got a clear run at all at Chester, but he’s been in good form since.

“He ran in this race before (10th in 2016) and didn’t get a clear run that day either. We’ll need a lot of luck and hope the draw is kind.”

The Scottish trainer already has one eye on a potential return to Australia later in the year, adding: “The Melbourne Cup could be a target again. We’ll see how we go.

“He feels as good as ever at home. He wouldn’t have these targets if he didn’t.”

Meanwhile, Cracksman is being given time to recover from his shock defeat to Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes as connections try to dissect his display at Royal Ascot. The champion middle-distance performer never appeared comfortable during the 10-furlong Group One contest, with Frankie Dettori having to roust him along in the early stages.

Owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer said: “He is very well and in about two weeks’ time we’ll have a pretty good idea.”

Future entries for Cracksman include York’s Juddmonte International in August, a race that has also attracted injury-sidelined stablemate Enable.

The latter has also been entered in the Yorkshire Oaks which is headed by Karl Burke’s stable star Laurens.