TRAINER Phil Kirby is willing to let classy chaser Kings Grey run in a selling hurdle in an attempt to provide jockey Brian Toomey with a comeback winner.
Toomey, 26, suffered life-threatening head injuries when he fell from Solway Dandy in a handicap hurdle at Perth in July 2013.
He was placed in an induced coma in the high dependency unit of Ninewells Hospital, in Dundee, for two weeks, and had surgery to reduce swelling on his brain, including the removal of part of his skull.
He remained in hospital for 157 nights.
Toomey’s astonishing comeback was confirmed earlier this month when he was granted a new jump jockey’s licence and Kings Grey, a winner over fences at Aintree on his latest start, has been earmarked as the horse that will try to give him the perfect start.
Middleham-based Kirby said: “We’re not sure where we’re going yet, nothing is decided and it’s still a bit up in the air, but Brian will ride him when we find the right race.
“The horse is ready to go, it’s just a matter of finding the right race in the next fortnight or three weeks. We’d obviously love to give him a winner on his first ride back and that’s what we’re trying to do, but it’s not going to be easy.
“The horse is a chaser really, but we might run him over hurdles, but that’s not because Brian wants to start off over hurdles or anything. The owners aren’t against running him in a selling hurdle if it comes to it. I know there’s a seller coming up at Southwell and he would look thrown-in on his chase mark, but then he is an 11-year-old and there’s probably a reason he hasn’t won over hurdles.”
Meanwhile connections of Royal Ascot winner Free Eagle are confident that Dermot Weld’s lightly-raced colt can beat allcomers in York’s Juddmonte International on August 19 prior to a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in early October.
After Free Eagle denied luckless Yorkshire challenger The Grey Gatsby on the line in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Fiona Craig, breeding adviser for owners Moyglare Stud, reports the victor to be “absolutely A1”.
“I think we’ll probably stick to a mile and a quarter before stepping up to the mile and a half in the Arc. Pat is adamant he’ll improve for stepping up in distance,” she said.
“I think Dermot will just let the horse tell him when he’s ready, but he doesn’t take a vast amount of work to get ready, so there is every chance he could be ready for York if he wanted to go there. A lot of people have him down as fragile, but he’s not. He just had the stress fracture last year and he’s obviously recovered well from that.”
Craig is confident there is more improvement in Free Eagle. “He’s come out of the race great and he will improve again, I’m sure of that,” she said. “I know how hard it was to get him to Ascot. I honestly didn’t think he’d make it three or four days beforehand, but it was a magnificent training performance.”