Until the middle of the twentieth century, the Northumberland Plate was run on a Wednesday, as the highlight of a holiday period for local mineworkers, known as 'Races Week', and was known colloquially as the 'Pitmen's Derby'. The race was moved to a Saturday in 1952 and, nowadays, forms the centrepiece of the third and final day of the Northumberland Plate Festival, which is staged annually in late June or early July.
Run over an extended two miles, the Northumberland Plate is a Class 2 handicap open to horses aged three years and upwards. With total prize money of £150,000, it is one of the most valuable races of its kind run anywhere in Europe and, unsurprisingly, remains one of the highlights of the Flat racing season in the north of England. Just one horse, the diminutive Underhand, trained by John Fobert, has won the Northumberland Plate three times, in 1857, 1858 and 1859, and also finished second in 1860. Much more recently, other notable winners of the historic race have included Celeric in 1996, Sergeant Cecil in 2005 and Overturn in 2010.