hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan was more than satisfied with The Grey Gatsby after he enjoyed a gallop at York as part of his preparations for the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on Sunday week.
Last year’s winner of the Dante, French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes was last seen finishing a fine second over an inadequate nine furlongs in Dubai and has the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot as his major aim in the first half of the season.
Ryan also believes his stable star – the 2014 Yorkshire horse of the year – will stay a mile-and-a-half this season and has given him an entry in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. “The idea was just to get him away from home,” said the trainer.
“He did a nice piece of work, quickened up nicely and is on target for the Curragh. He’s been great. He’s a great traveller so Dubai didn’t really take anything out of him. If he hadn’t gone to Dubai and the ground comes up very soft in Ireland, then his first run would have been at Royal Ascot so there was nothing to lose by going to Dubai.
“He ran fantastic, he was nice and fresh and we would have settled for that result going out there. He’s got bigger and stronger.
“We’ll come back to York for the Juddmonte after Ascot and we’ve put him in the Arc as I think he can step up to a mile-and-a-half this year as well.”
Meanwhile, Nawton trainer David O’Meara hopes Custom Cut can improve still further and justify the horse’s bold entry in today’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
This Group One race over a mile now has a prize fund of £350,000 and has attracted 18 runners as a result, including Top Notch Tonto for Malton trainer Brian Ellison.
However, while the ground might go against Ellison’s horse, O’Meara is bullish about Custom Cut who won five successive races last season before under-performing on unsuitably soft ground on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot last October.
The horse made a winning comeback at Sandown and will once again be parterned by Danny Tudhope, The Yorkshire Post’s Friday columnist. “The straight track might not be in his favour as I think he’s better round a bend, and there’s loads of runners, unusually for a Group One,” said O’Meara who has never shied away from a challenge and will not be running Custom Cut to make up the numbers.
“He’s such a fantastic horse to train and looks like he’s come on again. He’s a classy horse and has the run under his belt, which some of the others don’t.”