NEIGHBOURS Kevin Ryan and Bryan Smart are set to spearhead the county’s challenge at next week’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival where the stars of the 2014 Flat season will compete for record prize money of £3.5m.
Ryan’s runners are set to be headed by Dante and French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby who is among 11 horses to stand their ground for a potentially vintage renewal of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International following the latest declarations. Stablemate Flaming Spear, a top two-year-old prospect, heads the entries for the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes on the same afternoon.
Meanwhile Smart, who also trains on the summit of Sutton Bank at Hambleton, is likely to field an equally formidable team that will be headed by football manager Harry Redknapp’s Moviesta, who will be looking to atone for the disappointment of last year’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes when last of 17 to Jwala in the Group One sprint.
A course winner at the 2013 Dante meeting, Moviesta showed some of his best form when a close third to the David Griffiths-trained Take Cover in the King George Stakes at Goodwood on August 1.
Moviesta won this Goodwood sprint 12 months ago and Smart is confident. “Moviesta is really well. We are heading to the Nunthorpe and I am very happy with him,” he said.
“He ran really well at Goodwood and he has been in terrific form since. Fingers crossed for a clear run between now and next Friday. I’m a Yorkshireman so to go to the Ebor Meeting with some good chances is what it’s all about. To get a winner is the dream.”
Of Smart’s other runners, She’s A Worldie could step up to Group Two company for the Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes on Thursday.
The Kodiac filly won her maiden at the second time of asking at Beverley before finishing a tight third in a nursery at Thirsk.
Smart appreciates that she needs to take a large step forward, but feels she is capable of a bold show.
He said: “She’s A Worldie is a good filly. She’ll run well.”
Smart is also looking forward to running unbeaten juvenile, Fendale, in the £200,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes on August 23 and keeping the prize in Hambleton; the last two renewals have been won by the Ryan-trained Blaine (2012) and Astaire 12 months ago.
The son of Exceed And Excel, Fendale has won both his starts to date – a maiden at Beverley and a conditions race at Musselburgh.
As for Ryan, he could be seeking a new jockey for The Grey Gatsby if Ryan Moore is required to ride Telescope for his boss Sir Michael Stoute in the £800,000 Juddmonte – York’s richest race of the year.
He is not the only trainer with fluid riding plans; Aidan O’Brien has said that English and Irish Derby winner Australia will require a new jockey because his son Joseph, the champion’s regular rider, will not be able to make the 8st 12lb weight.
Six feet tall, O’Brien junior rides at a minimum weight of 9st in order to maximise his riding career.
Though the odds-on favourite for the race, Australia’s participation does hang in the balance – the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes on September 13 is a possibility before a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most iconic race.
“We won’t be making a decision about Australia running for another few days. He’s being trained with the race in mind, but it’s still in the balance if he will travel,” said O’Brien senior.
“If he does run Joseph won’t be riding him as 8st 12lb is below his minimum. We’ll wait until we decide about running before confirming a jockey.”
If Australia does run and become the first reigning Epsom Derby champion to line up at York since the great Sea The Stars in 2009, Seamie Heffernan and Colm O’Donoghue could be in line for the ride with O’Brien junior on Kingsbarns or Hall Of Mirrors who carry 9st 6lb under the weight-for-age handicapping system.
The line-up for the Juddmonte – final declarations are made at 10am on Monday – will also have a bearing on the Neptune Investment Great Voltigeur Stakes, a major trial for the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster. Several horses are declared in both, including Epsom Derby second Kingston Hill, O’Brien’s Kingfisher and John Gosden’s Eagle Top.
Their plans are likely to hinge on the participation of Australia in the feature.
However, there is every prospect that Hartnell, winner of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and then the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket, could try to enhance further his Leger claims for Middleham trainer Mark Johnston.
In the meantime, local attention turns to tomorrow’s 21st renewal of the William Hill Great St Wilfrid – Ripon’s big race of the year – and the growing support for Kimberella.
Trained at Thirsk by sprint king David Nicholls, the four-year-old won at the North Yorkshire track in April and the horse’s odds for the £70,000 contest have been trimmed from 16-1 at the start of the week to 9-1.
“The flow of cash isn’t stopping despite the shortening price,” said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.
TOMORROW: Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh’s York lowdown and Bawtry trainer David Griffiths on the Nunthorpe chances of Take Cover.