Ebor Festival: Gutsy Grey Gatsby can go all the way, says Ryan

NO Yorkshire horse has ever won the Juddmonte International, but Kevin Ryan is more than confident that the courageously consistent Grey Gatsby can enhance his reputation in the opening day highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

The Grey Gatsby.

This, after all, is the gutsiest of colts who also thrives at York – Frank Gillespie’s horse of a lifetime won last year’s Dante en route to a famous victory in the French Derby.

After being outbattled by the Epsom Derby victor Australia in the 2014 Juddmonte, Ryan’s stable star turned the tables to triumph in the Irish Champion Stakes.

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Beaten by Solow at the Dubai World Cup meeting, The Grey Gatsby lost out by the shortest of short heads to Free Eagle in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot – the four-year-old did not enjoy the clearest of passages – before going down fighting to Golden Horn in last month’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown when conceding 11lb to Frankie Dettori’s mount. Under today’s weight-for-age allowances, The Grey Gatsby will be conceding only eight pounds to Golden Horn and Gleneagles whose chances could be compromised if the pencil-thin jockey Joseph O’Brien struggles to make the 8st 12lb weight.

“He is in very good form and it is going to be a great race,” Hambleton-based Ryan told The Yorkshire Post. “He is a very tough, genuine horse who is rightly up there as one of the best horses in the world.

“I’m looking forward to it. It is going to be a great spectacle. We wouldn’t be running if we didn’t think the horse could win – I’m very happy with him.”

Yesterday’s light rain is unlikely to inconvenience Golden Horn who came to prominence with a breathtaking win in this year’s Dante.

“We wouldn’t be at all worried about the ground as he goes on good to soft, rather than thick mud,” said owner Anthony Oppenheimer who named Gleneagles, The Grey Gatsby and Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Royal Ascot winner Time Test as major threats.

“I still get nervous watching him, but he’s done marvellously for us so far and it would be lovely if he could win again.

“The horse is very well. I went to see him on Friday and he looked marvellous.

“It’s easy to say anything, but one really doesn’t know if this is his greatest challenge. All we know is that it looks to be a terribly exciting race and we’re glad to be part of it.”