THE David O’Meara duo of G Force and Custom Cut are set to lead the Yorkshire charge at Qipco Champions Day this weekend after Kevin Ryan’s French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby became the latest high-profile absentee.
It comes after Middleham Park Racing, owners of G Force, stumped up £20,000 yesterday in order to add the Betfred Sprint Cup winner to the field for the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
G Force’s 17 opponents could include the Richard Fahey-trained Baccarat and Alben Star.
However, the likelihood of testing conditions at the rain-hit Berkshire track have prompted Hambleton-based Ryan to rule out The Grey Gatsby from the 10-furlong Champion Stakes.
This anticipated decision follows an arduous campaign which saw the colt win the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month in addition to earlier successes in York’s Dante Stakes and the French Derby at Chantilly.
“I’m not going to run him on heavy ground. They had 25 millimetres of rain last night and there is more forecast,” said Ryan.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him this year. He stays in training next season.”
After St Leger winner Kingston Hill was scratched, the field is now headed by Corine Barande-Barbe’s French ace Cirrus Des Aigles, who won the race in 2011.
The field for the one mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes looks more competitive, however. Nawton-based O’Meara has supplemented five-time winner Custom Cut at a cost of £70,000, while last year’s runner-up, Top Notch Tonto, trained at Malton by Brian Ellison, will relish testing conditions
“It cost a lot of money to supplement, but he’s won five Pattern races in a row, so he bought his own ticket for Saturday, really,” said O’Meara.
“Gary Douglas and Pat Breslin (owners) came to me last year and said they wanted to buy a nice horse, they had the budget and this horse was the one we went for. We know he handles heavy ground, so any rain this week won’t be detrimental to his chances.”
The Queen’s Estimate, meanwhile, heads the entries for the Long Distance Cup, with soft going expected to favour last year’s runner-up Harris Tweed, whose owner Brian Haggas lives near Ilkley.
Taghrooda, the filly who carried Paul Hanagan to Classic glory in the Epsom Oaks, has been retired to stud. The daughter of Sea The Stars also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.