JOE Tuite is aiming to get Ebor winner Litigant back on the track next month, with Royal Ascot and the Curragh under consideration.
The injury-prone eight-year-old has had his problems but showed his class by overcoming a 16-month lay-off to win last August’s Ebor under an inspired Oisin Murphy.
He signed off the campaign with victory in the November Handicap at Doncaster, but has yet to run so far this year.
Tuite reports his stable star in full training and hopes to get him started in either the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot or the Curragh Cup in Ireland – as long as conditions are favourable.
“All’s good with him, but obviously he’s ground dependent,” said Tuite.
“He’s back in full work. It’s all systems go for Ascot at the moment and then we’ll see nearer the time whether we get to Ascot or instead go to Ireland for the Group Two.
“We just need nice ground. He wouldn’t run on fast ground.”
Meanwhile Quest For More, another potential Ascot Gold Cup contender, heads the field for tomorrow’s Listed weddingmates.co.uk Grand Cup on Knavesmire.
Ninth in last November’s Melbourne Cup, top jockey Jamie Spencer has been booked by trainer Roger Charlton to ride last season’s Northumberland Plate hero.
“We’re looking forward to getting him back on track,” said Charlton.
“Our horses have been a bit slow to come to hand and he is unsuited to soft ground, so I guess his training was a little bit behind where it should have been.
“The York race has come at a perfect time. The flat track, like Newcastle and Doncaster, suits him well – fast ground, if possible.
“He seems in good form, but I would expect him to just come on a bit for his first race.
“The plan is to run in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot if everything is okay after York.”
Charlton believes a trip to the Melbourne Cup is “tough for a horse”, but says a 2016 return is “a possibility” for Quest For More, who did himself proud last November.
On the Australia race, he said: “I was very pleased with him. He had a fairly outside draw and got himself into a good position.
“They perhaps, from his point of view, went too slowly and then they sprinted up the straight.
“He got swamped a little bit – a bit short of room – and he was running on at the end and was only beaten four lengths. It was a good trip.”
Mecca’s Angel heads a field of 16 for the Temple Stakes at Haydock tomorrow. Winner of the Nunthorpe at last year’s Ebor festival, the Michael Dods-trained five-year-old – who provided Boroughbridge jockey Paul Mulrennan with the biggest win of his career – will be making her first start since that Knavesmire victory.
The William Haggas-trained Muthmir and the John Gosden-trained Waady form a strong two-pronged challenge for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, while Yorkshire will be represented by Take Cover (David Griffiths), Move In Time (David O’Meara) and Pearl Secret (David Barron).
Wings of Desire, winner of last week’s Betfred Dante Stakes at York, will have a racecourse gallop at Epsom on Tuesday that will determine whether John Gosden’s colt lines up in the Derby next month.
Frankie Dettori’s mount, who only made a racecourse debut last month, is the star name at Tuesday’s Breakfast With The Stars event where Classic contenders can tackle the unique undulations of Tattenham Corner.
Yalta could be be bound for Royal Ascot following a successful racecourse debut at Goodwood yesterday.
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston nominated the Coventry Stakes, a race that he won last year courtesy of Buratino.
“He’s one of our better ones and we’ve known that right from the beginning,” said Johnston.
“But he had a small setback and we decided not to run him in his intended introduction.
“He’s certainly a candidate for Royal Ascot, where the Coventry would be the most likely race. We could run him again beforehand.”
The win helped jockey William Buick complete a memorable four-timer that also included a win on the Johnston-trained Bathos.
The trainer observed: “It was nice the way he found another length when the second horse looked like coming to take him.
“Everything in his last two races went wrong, especially at Wolverhampton when he fell out of the stalls.
“It was a good move by William to take it up early and grab the initiative.”
Former French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby, the 2014 Yorkshire horse of the year, is on course to make his seasonal reappearance in Sunday’s Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
Trained at Hambleton by Kevin Ryan, the Frank Gillespie-owned five-year-old is likely to be retired to stud at the end of this season.
Potential rivals include Aidan O’Brien’s Found who won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Turf in America last October.