Festival on the mind of Fahey as he fine tunes his preparations for York

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A SEASON-DEFINING week for Richard Fahey begins with top two-year-old filly Sandiva seeking to claim a top European race under Frankie Dettori – while Baccarat heads a three-pronged assault on Ripon’s competitive William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap.

Both have points to prove.

Sandiva, who heads to Deauville for the Prix du Calvados, lost her unbeaten record at Royal Ascot while Baccarat was badly 
hampered by Amy Ryan’s horror fall in last month’s Sky Bet Dash at York.

Yet Fahey is already finalising plans for next week’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival which begins on Wednesday.

His most lucrative triumph at the meeting was provided by the high-class Wootton Bassett – a subsequent Group One winner – in the 2010 DBS Premier Yearling Stakes.

In an exclusive Yorkshire Post interview, Fahey said he expects to saddle Rufford and Khalice in Thursday’s £250,000 contest.

Like Sandiva, the stable’s Parbold found one too good at Royal Ascot and he is on the course for the richest-ever Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes which is being switched to Saturday – Ebor day – for the first time.

Impressive in defeat at Glorious Goodwood on his last outing, Fahey said: “I was a bit frustrated. Strictly on the book it looked a good run, but I felt he should’ve won – I just felt it didn’t happen for him. He’s 50/50 to run. If it turned up on the easy side of good, I might contemplate taking him there.”

One enigmatic horse under Fahey’s care is Glen’s Diamond. The five-year-old enjoyed his finest hour in May at the Knavesmire when landing the Group Two Qipco Yorkshire Cup by a nose.

Well beaten on two subsequent outings, connections hope that a return to York will rekindle the horse’s best form in the Lonsdale Cup on Friday where his opponents could include the Queen’s Ascot Gold Cup hero Estimate.

“He will be there and seems fine,” said Fahey.

“He’s a strange horse, but he will definitely run so we will see what happens.

“Gabrial will run in the Sky Bet Strensall Stakes on the Friday and nine furlongs is probably where he needs to be, and Majestic Moon will go for the four-timer in the three-year-olds only mile handicap.”

As for today’s action, Fahey is confident Baccarat will prevail.

“He had just half missed a beat at the start that day at York and he wouldn’t want to do that again or he could find himself coming too late at this track, but he’s won here before – albeit off a much lower mark – and we’re hoping for a big run,” he said.

Champion trainer John Gosden’s select York team will revolve around Great Voltigeur contender Excess Knowledge who is a leading St Leger fancy, Yorkshire Oaks entrant The Fugue and Nunthorpe-bound Swiss Spirit.

The Fugue would be a popular winner; she’s been unlucky since taking the 2012 Musidora under William Buick. The daughter of Dansili, who carries the colours of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, was last seen finishing at the rear of the field in the Coral Eclipse Stakes.

Previously she had ran a tremendous race to be third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“Hopefully, she is on the way back,” said Gosden.

As for Swiss Spirit, who was second to Harry Redknapp’s Moviesta at Glorious Goodwood, the trainer added: “Swiss Spirit has been second in two Group 2s –he was unlucky in the Betfred Temple Stakes at Haydock and deserves to take his chance in the Nunthorpe.”