Havana set for return to Curragh after brave York effort

Havana Grey and PJ McDonald, pictured winning at the Curragh last month, could return to Ireland's top track next month.
Havana Grey and PJ McDonald, pictured winning at the Curragh last month, could return to Ireland's top track next month.
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SPRINTER Havana Grey will be prepared for a return to the Curragh next month following his fine effort in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday.

Karl Burke’s three-year-old was beaten by three lengths into fifth place on Knavesmire, despite racing on his own on the far side of the track at the business end of the race as Bryan Smart’s Alpha Delphini won a tense photo finish.

Leyburn-based Burke was pleased to see his charge bounce back from what he felt was a below-par performance when sixth in the King George Stakes at Goodwood, and his likely next port of call is the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on September 16.

Havana Grey won the Sapphire Stakes over the same course and distance last month.

Burke said: “He ran a great race (at York). We felt the Goodwood race wasn’t his true running – we felt he ran two or three lengths below his best that day – and I think he proved that at York.

Havana Grey could be joined on the trip across the Irish Sea by esteemed stablemate Laurens.

The triple Group One winner failed to see out the mile-and-a-half Yorkshire Oaks and Burke is not ruling out dropping the filly back to a mile for the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on the same weekend. “She came out of the race 100 per cent. She just didn’t stay – it’s as simple as that,” he said. “We’ll come back in trip and she is in the Matron, so that is a possibility.”

North Yorkshire jockey Phil Makin is facing a spell on the sidelines after breaking a bone in his neck in a fall at Redcar on Saturday.

Makin was partnering the Simon Crisford-trained Eyecatcher in the one-mile, six-furlong Market Cross Jewellers Handicap and looked to have every chance of victory when the pair came to grief inside the final furlong.

Eyecatcher was fatally injured, while there was a short delay to the following race after Makin was transferred to hospital.

Makin’s partner Sammy Jo Bell, a former jockey, tweeted: “Finally home after nine hours in A&E with Phil Makin, he is very sore and has a broken bone in his neck, but it’s stable and in a brace for a few weeks to then be re-assessed.”