THE Grey Gatsby is set to bypass the Epsom Derby – and line up in the French equivalent – after surviving a lengthy stewards’ inquiry to become Yorkshire’s second successive winner of the Betfred Dante Stakes.
Victorious trainer Kevin Ryan, from Hambleton, will consult with winning owner Frank Gillespie today, but the likelihood is that the grey will reappear in next month’s Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
The reason is two-fold. First, The Grey Gatsby, winning for the first time since landing his racecourse debut at York last July, is already entered in the French race and connections would have to pay £75,000 for a supplementary entry in Epsom’s blue riband race.
Second, the Prix du Jockey Club is staged over one and a quarter miles – the same distance as yesterday’s stellar race on Knavesmire – and the extra two furlongs on Epsom’s undulations may not suit this horse, which veered violently to his right in the closing stages.
As he had three-quarters of a length in hand, there was little chance of The Grey Gatsby losing the race, but winning jockey Ryan Moore did pick up a two-day ban for careless riding.
“It rode a good gallop,” said Moore whose riding has been rather overshadowed by his father Gary and brother Jamie’s success this year with National Hunt horse of the year Sire De Grugy.
“I travelled lovely in third, but I was in front too early. When he got to the front he hung right.
“That mile and a quarter is as far as he wants to go. He will win more good races. He’s class.”
Paying particular attention to that observation was the winning trainer, who has always held The Grey Gatsby in the highest regard since acquiring the colt at a breeze-up sales in France.
Ryan, whose yard is in a rich vein of form, was not downhearted when his stable star was 10th in the 2000 Guineas to Night Of Thunder.
He thought The Grey Gatsby was running on towards the end and that it was only a matter of time before the horse won a big race.
He said that he would love to have a horse that is good enough to compete in the Epsom Derby, but noted that Libertarian, last year’s Dante hero who subsequently finished second at Epsom for Karl and Elaine Burke, was already a stayer in the making.
Ryan added: “We always thought a lot of the horse and he ran very well in the Guineas. He was always a work in progress and at the back of my mind I thought we had to go and try him over further and the key to it was how well he switched off.”
As for the Derby, Aidan O’Brien’s Guineas third Australia is now the odds-on favourite while support continues to grow for John Gosden’s unbeaten Western Hymn.
Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Dante runner-up Arod holds solid claims for Epsom after running on at the end. This was a big step up from his winning racecourse debut at Windsor and the experience will bode well.
Meanwhile, Saeed bin Suroor will press ahead with the Derby for True Story who was third under Kieren Fallon and suffered most of all when The Grey Gatsby veered.
The Godolphin trainer said: “Kieren said the ground was not perfect for him. He also said he will be better over a mile and a half, which he will get at Epsom.”