FORMER French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby is set to provide a stern challenge to the Queen’s Royal Ascot winner Dartmouth at Newbury tomorrow.
North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan’s stable star missed last weekend’s intended engagement in the Irish Champion Stakes because of Leopardstown’s rain-softened ground.
However the Group Three Dubai Legacy Cup provides a chance for the Frank Gillespie-owned colt to get back to winning ways – The Grey Gatsby has not won since lowering the colours of Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Derby hero Australia in the Irish Champion two years ago.
Now five, the grey has not raced since finishing sixth behind Postponed in York’s Juddmonte International last month.
“The Grey Gatsby came out of York great and the plan was to go for the Irish Champion Stakes but unfortunately the ground went against him,” said Ryan’s son and assistant trainer Adam.
“The Newbury race looks a good back-up option, dropping back in class. Apart from one run this season, he has been competing at the top level for the last three years and, if he comes back to his best form, he should be the one to beat.
“It does look a good renewal though with the likes of Dartmouth in there. The Grey Gatsby has got the Arc, Breeders’ Cup and Champions Day as options after this. But he is a ground dependent horse and we will go wherever the ground tells us to.”
After capturing the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, Dartmouth was third to Highland Reel last time out in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Bryan Smart has decided to chase the big bucks with Alicante Dawn rather than run in tomorrow’s Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
The Ripon Listed winner, whom Smart owns after paying just 5,000 guineas for him, will now head to Newmarket on October 1 for the £150,000 Tattersalls October Auction Stakes.
“He came back with sore shins after Ripon and after discussions with the owner I’ve decided to go for the money!” said the in-form Hambleton trainer whose yard is adjacent to the aforementioned Ryan stables.
“There’s £80,000 to the winner at Newmarket, so why not? It looks like we might have Michael Dods’ horse (Bamber Bridge), who was fourth at Doncaster, to beat, but he cost £70,000 and mine cost £5,000.
“We’ve had some big offers and he’ll still be worth plenty even if he doesn’t win. I’ve even had an offer for half of him so that he stays in the yard. We can’t lose by running him in it, really.”
William Haggas is leaning towards a crack at the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 24 with his speedy juvenile Mubtasim.
Quietly fancied for the Gimcrack at York, he met with the only defeat of his career to date when nothing went right.
Haggas nursed him back to his best for a valuable sales race at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting last week and Mubtasim ran out a ready winner, looking ripe for a step back up in class.
He holds an entry in Redcar’s Two-Year-Old Trophy, but the Newmarket-based trainer is likely to keep his charge closer to home. “He is in the Middle Park and the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar,” said Haggas. “I think he is more likely to go for the Middle Park. He does need fast ground, though.”
Former Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Davy Russell, who began his career with Ferdy Murphy in North Yorkshire, is to ride for leading businessman Dai Walters this season when available.
Russell, one of the veterans of Ireland’s weighing room, rides as a freelance after being replaced by Bryan Cooper as first jockey to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud.
“Whisper would be my highest-rated horse and I think he’s going to have another go at chasing,” said Walters.
“Two Taffs is promising and so is Welsh Shadow. I think he could be aimed at the Welsh Champion Hurdle.”