TRAINER George Margarson had every reason to believe that Lucky Kristale had the racing world at her feet when she won a top juvenile race at York’s Ebor festival two summers ago.
Yet Margarson, who began his career near Beverley, has enjoyed a frustrating time with his star filly who has been beaten in each of her seven starts since landing the prestigious Lowther Stakes on the Knavesmire.
Lucky Kristale came in a distant 16th to Miss France in last season’s 1000 Guineas at Newmarket – she only beat one other horse in the Classic – and was 14th of 15 runners when lining up in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at May’s Dante meeting.
However, there were clear signs of a revival when finishing a close second to hardened sprinter Tropics on her penultimate start at Windsor, with Margarson happy to put a line through Lucky Kristale’s recent effort in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
As such, he believes there are grounds for optimism for today’s 888Sport Summer Stakes – day one of York’s two-day meeting which culminates with the 56th running of the John Smith’s Cup tomorrow.
“I’m not worried about anything, to be honest,” said the quietly-confident trainer who knows from a lifetime in racing that patience is a virtue.
“She’s back to herself now. She ran a great race at Windsor and what price would Dean Ivory’s horse (Tropics) be if he was running in this?
“She got bumped early on at Ascot and that was that, running against the boys. She’s back against the fillies and the ground is drying out all the time. If they did get a lot of rain, we’d just take her out. If conditions are right, I’ll be very disappointed if she can’t take care of these.”
Lucky Kristale is one of the star names in a fascinating 14-strong field that also includes a Royal Ascot winner in Wokingham Stakes heroine Interception.
The David Lanigan-trained five-year-old was a decisive winner of one of the most fiercely competitive sprint handicaps in the calendar and deserves to step up to Group Three level.
Lanigan said: “Everything has been fine since Ascot. You never know how they’ve come out of it until they run again, but she seems in good order. I’m hoping the ground will dry up a little bit. She does want good ground.”
As for tomorrow’s John Smith’s Cup, all eyes will be on the Hughie Morrison-trained Arab Dawn following the four-year-old’s Royal Ascot success in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.
That race was over a mile-and-a-half – and Arab Dawn drops back in trip to 10 furlongs for tomorrow’s test.
Such is the horse’s versatility, however, that the favourite holds an eye-catching entry in August’s Betfred Ebor over a mile-and-three-quarters.
Morrison is happy with his charge, but admits that bringing him back in distance from his Ascot heroics raises concerns.
He said: “He is a horse we feel we can move around in trip but Saturday will prove whether we can or not, if he runs his race. It may be a bit sharp for him – we will find out on Saturday. It was a stiff mile-and-a-half at Ascot.
“We hope that we get nice ground – not too soft, not too fast. He seems in good form since Ascot. But as a caveat, I would say a lot of horses have not run well since Ascot. There is no good reason, except Ascot takes a lot out of horses.”
Mr Singh staked a strong claim for the Ladbrokes St Leger when making all the running in the Bahrain Trophy on day one of Newmarket’s July meeting.
The colt gave jockey Frankie Dettori a seventh win in the race and Derby-winning trainer John Gosden a fifth as he strode away from the opposition in the closing stages.
After enjoying an easy lead in the early stages, the favourite asserted in the final quarter-mile to back up his second place in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“For a stayer, he does quicken and he put the race to bed at the two pole,” said Dettori. “He’s improving all the time and getting stronger. We think he’s a Leger horse and he proved that today. He’s a good stayer, with a turn of foot.”
This view was echoed by the in-form Gosden whose Masked Marvel won the corresponding race in 2011 before landing the world’s oldest Classic on Town Moor. “We’ll go straight to the St Leger with him, he’ll love it at Doncaster. Masked Marvel came here and did the same before winning the Leger,” he said. “I’m not saying he’s a Masked Marvel, but he’s a very nice horse.”
Today’s highlight is the Group One Falmouth Stakes where Amazing Maria attempts to back up her unexpected Royal Ascot success for Yorkshire owner Sir Robert Ogden, Nawton trainer David O’Meara and in-form jockey James Doyle.