Aetna expected to relish soft conditions on Knavesmire

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CONNECTIONS of Aetna expect conditions to bring out the best in the lightly-raced filly as she bids to secure a second York success in the Coral Sprint Trophy.

The four-year-old appears to excel when the mud is flying, recording impressive victories at Newcastle and on Knavesmire early in the season before she was given the summer off as faster ground prevailed.

Aetna made an encouraging return from over four months off the track, when a close third at Newmarket a little over a fortnight ago, and is a warm order to regain winning ways in the £75,000 contest.

David Easterby, son and assistant to Sheriff Hutton trainer Mick, said: “I walked the course earlier in the week and I thought it was genuine good to soft ground.

“They’ve had a bit of rain since then and that will suit her, as the word ‘soft’ is paramount. We’ve protected her during the summer when the ground has been quick and we were pleased with her first run back at Newmarket. She’s going to relish the conditions and we’re looking forward to running her.”

York’s leading trainer, David O’Meara, launches a formidable three-pronged assault, with stable jockey Daniel Tudhope siding with Watchable over stable companions Highland Acclaim and Out Do.

Watchable enjoyed his day in the sun when successful at the Curragh on his penultimate start, but he was unable to make an impact in last month’s Ayr Gold Cup because of an unfavourable draw on the far side as stablemate Louis The Pious swooped under the stand-side rails.

Nawton-based O’Meara said: “Watchable is a very progressive horse. He couldn’t win at Ayr where he was drawn. I’ve been wanting to run him on ground with ease in it all year, although he has done a lot of his winning on fast ground.”

Michael Dods has a couple of major contenders including classy sprinter Mass Rally, who won the race 12 months ago under PJ McDonald. Mass Rally will be ridden by Boroughbridge-based Paul Mulrennan, who is closing in on his first century of winners.

Dods also saddles the admirable mare Spinatrix, who will give young apprentice Connor Beasley another chance to showcase his talents.

Another Wise Kid has done Westow trainer Paul Midgley proud this year and is another horse with sound place claims in a wide-open affair.

Midgley said: “He’s had a tremendous year, winning a couple of decent races, and he was unlucky in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon. He ran an excellent race again at Hamilton last time. He seems to be in good form and six furlongs is what he needs now.

“It’s a very competitive race, but he’s been running so well all year he must have a bit of a squeak. It’s a shame Graham (Lee) isn’t on him as he knows him so well, but he’s a straightforward ride and Adam Kirby is a very good jockey.”