KEVIN RYAN is confident that a six-month absence from the track will not stop The Grey Gatsby, Yorkshire’s reigning horse of the year, from showing his true class at the world’s richest race meeting on Saturday.
Although the winner of York’s Betfred Dante Stakes and French Derby has not raced since winning the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last September, Hambleton-based Ryan could not be happier ahead of the $6m Dubai Turf at Meydan – one of the chief support races to the Dubai World Cup.
He is further buoyed by the fact that Ryan Moore, widely regarded as the world’s best Flat jockey and who partnered The Grey Gatsby to each of his three big race successes last year, is available this weekend and even suggested the race chosen by connections.
“We nominated him for both the mile-and-a-half Sheema Classic and this race, but Ryan felt the shorter trip here (nine furlongs) would suit him better,” said the trainer after supervising the horse’s latest workout in the Middle East yesterday.
“He’s a very fast horse and needs an end-to-end gallop, which he should get here. It’s a very competitive race, but our horse is in good shape. I’m not too worried about the trip, he has lots of speed.
“He got better and stronger as the season went on last year and, over the winter, he’s matured again.
“It’s always a worry when you are travelling, but he seems to have taken it all well.
“It’s all there on his CV. He was always competitive and he ran against the best around, with his last win being his best. Saturday’s race will be very competitive but there’s not much point in worrying about the opposition – I only train one horse in the race and I’m very happy that our horse is in really good shape.”
As for the 2015 Flat season which begins at Doncaster on Saturday, Qipco 2000 Guineas favourite Gleneagles will have a workout after racing at the Curragh on Sunday.
The colt won four of his six starts as a juvenile and trainer Aidan O’Brien said yesterday: “Everything seems fine with him so far. He’s a Galileo with a lot of speed and he doesn’t do much once he gets to the front, which is coming through from his pedigree as a lot of them were like that. He’s a full-sister to Marvellous, but he’s a much stronger traveller and pacier horse than she was. He would have had no problem winning over six furlongs last year if we’d asked him too and he has more than enough pace for a Guineas.”
Meanwhile, Marco Botti has nominated the Ascot Gold Cup as the top target for his redoubtable Tac De Boistron – provided the ground is soft enough for his evergreen eight-year-old.
The horse could reappear in May’s Yorkshire Cup – Tac De Boistron was second in last year’s renewal on York’s Knavesmire.
“In terms of Group One races in England for Tac De Boistron, there is just the Gold Cup,” said Botti. “However, it is usually difficult to get his ground for that and the percentage, although not impossible, is very low. We were praying for the rain last year but it didn’t come and we felt it too risky to run.
“We will keep him fit and see what happens. Otherwise there are probably more races in France and Ireland for him. We might start him off in the Yorkshire Cup, then go for the Irish St Leger, the Prix du Cadran and the Prix Royal Oak.”
Champion Hurdle fifth The New One will not run at Aintree next month after being ruled out for the rest of the season with a spine injury.
Though the horse does not require surgery, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies hopes an extended break will assist his stable star’s recovery.
“He’s got a ‘kissing spine’ but he’ll be okay in time. He won’t need an operation but we will give him a break,” said Twiston-Davies.
However trainer Colin Tizzard hopes multiple Grade One winner Cue Card will appear at the Crabbie’s Grand National meeting at Aintree after missing the Cheltenham Festival for a second successive year.
Cue Card has since undergone corrective surgery on a small wind problem and is due to have a racecourse gallop this weekend. Tizzard said: “It’s amazing what that operation has done...we couldn’t be more happy with him. The proof of the pudding is when he runs, of course, but we are really pleased. We’ll enter him in both the three-mile race (Betfred Bowl) and the two-and-a-half-miler (Melling Chase) and see which one’s the more winnable.”