DAVID O’MEARA is under no illusions about the scale of the task facing Lord Glitters in today’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
He notes that Karl Burke’s Laurens and the John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion already have a combined eight Group One wins between them.
Then there are horses with top class form like Lightning Spear and Beat The Bank, who are considered outsiders alongside Richard Fahey’s Gabrial.
However, the North Yorkshire trainer knows that a combination of Ascot – and soft ground – invariably brings out the best in Geoff and Sandra Turnbull’s horse.
Winner of the concluding Balmoral Handicap at this Qipco British Champions Day meeting 12 months ago, Lord Glitters was second in both the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the Summer Mile at the Berkshire track.
“The ground should be alright for him and he likes Ascot and, touch wood, has always performed well there,” O’Meara told The Yorkshire Post.
“We’re hopeful he can be competitive. There’s huge money on offer.
“Roaring Lion and Laurens have won multiple Group Ones this year and horses like Beat The Bank and Lightning Spear shouldn’t be overlooked.”
O’Meara is also keen to stress that there were mitigating factors for Lord Glitters finishing sixth in the Group One Woodbine Mile in Canada just over a month ago.
He said the horse had a very disrupted journey to Toronto, only arriving two days before the elite race, and that a sedate early pace did not play to the strengths of Jamie Spencer’s mount, who was making up ground rapidly at the end.
Spencer again rides the horse due to stable jockey Danny Tudhope’s unavailability through injury and suspension.
On British racing’s showcase day where horses will compete for prize money worth £4.5m in total, and see Silvestre de Sousa crowned championed jockey and Jason Watson the country’s top apprentice, O’Meara is also double-handed in the Balmoral Handicap.
He describes Waarif as a “massive improver” – the question is whether the horse can be “competitive” in this one-mile handicap – while Escobar, a horse with the class, might not be suited by the straight mile. His best form, says O’Meara, has been on round courses.
That said, O’Meara is just pleased to have horses that are good enough to compete at a meeting that is also expected to settle this year’s trainers’ championship, which is determined on prize money.
The aforementioned Gosden, who has accrued £6.3m so far, is still £1m clear of his great rival Aidan O’Brien and the aforementioned Roaring Lion – the mount of in-form Oisin Murphy – is just one of several high-profile contenders for the Newmarket-based trainer.
They also include Cracksman, who attempts to win the 10-furlong Champion Stakes for a second successive year before being retired to stud.
Though the four-year-old has had a long absence due to dry conditions, softer ground should definitely suit and big race jockey Frankie Dettori says Gosden’s decision to opt for the QEII Stakes with Roaring Lion will definitely make his task easier.
“Cracksman is in good form. He won the race last year and we have the blinkers on him to keep his concentration levels up,” said Dettori, who is still basking in the glory of Enable’s second Arc triumph. “If the same Cracksman turns up from last year, he will be very hard to beat.”