El Astronaute aiming to land top York sprint

DANTE Festival winner El Astronaute is on track to make a quick reappearance at York tomorrow.

Jason Hart rides John Quinn's El Astronaute.

The gelding, who also won at Goodwood last season, heads the field for the five-furlong £50,000 MansionBet Sprint Handicap –as he bids to continue the fine recent form of trainer John Quinn and jockey Jason Hart.

Though the five-year-old has gone up in the handicap, Quinn, who trains in the village of Settrington, is hopeful.

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He said: “When you win a York handicap you expect to go up so I think 3lb was fair enough and I hope he could overcome it.

“He is in very good form and he has always run very well at York, albeit last week was the first time he won there.

“He goes on fast ground, he goes on good ground – the only ground he has proved to us that that he doesn’t like is heavy and that’s rather unlikely!

“We are looking forward to running him and he is very well.”

Quinn’s team are in fine form and enjoyed two victories at the Dante Festival. As well as El Astronaute they were also on target with Signora Cabello who heads to Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary Stakes.

Meanwhile veteran sprinter Take Cover has been declared for tomorrow’s Temple Stakes at Haydock.

The 11-year-old, trained at Bawtry by David Griffiths, takes on Battaash who finished last year as the highest-rated sprinter in the world.

Also declared is Havana Grey for Leyburn trainer Karl Burke and jockey PJ McDonald.

Warren Greatrex has paid tribute to Cole Harden after the retirement of his stable star.

The frontrunner came to prominence when winning the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in November 2014.

He then won the following year’s World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Though Cole Harden did not win again, his bravery earned the admiration of racing and his successes provided Greatrex, and jockey Gavin Sheehan, with the first Grade One wins of their careers.

“He’s been an absolute star for the yard and put my career on the map. He was a very tough and consistent horse with a huge will to win,” said Greatrex who confirmed the horse will join the Greatwood charity which looks after ex-racehorses.

Riding arrangements for Mark Johnston’s Investec Derby contender Dee Ex Bee remain up in the air with just over a week until the Epsom feature.

The colt runs in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum whose roster of riders includes James Doyle and William Buick. “We will just look at the options. James hasn’t won on him and he has ridden him twice in two of his more disappointing races,” said Middleham-based Johnston.