The Northumberland Plate Festival is a three-day fixture staged annually at Newcastle Racecourse, in High Gosforth Park, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in North East England in late June or early July. The Festival takes its name from the feature race, the Northumberland Plate, which is run on the Saturday.
The Northumberland Plate, run over 2 miles and 56 yards and open to horses aged three years and upwards, was inaugurated in 1833, but first run at High Gosforth Park in 1881. The race was originally staged on a Wednesday and, until 1949, formed the centrepiece of a holiday period known as “Race Week”. The Northumberland Plate was switched to a Saturday in 1952, but remains one of the highlights of the horse racing and social calendar in North East England and is still popularly known as the “Pitmen’s Derby”. In fact, nowadays, the race is one of the most valuable races of its kind in Europe, worth over £92,000 to the winner.
Currently sponsored by Stobart Rail Limited, who took over from previous sponsor John Smith’s in 2017, the Northumberland Plate was run on turf until 2016 but, following the £12 million redevelopment of Newcastle Racecourse, which included the installation of a replacement all-weather, Tapeta™ surface, has been run on an artificial surface. So, too, of course, have the other major races that form part of the Northumberland Plate Festival, including the Gosforth Park Cup, a valuable 5-furlong handicap sprint run on the Friday evening and the Seaton Delaval Trophy, nowadays a £20,000 added handicap, run over the straight mile and the traditional highlight of the opening day.