DAVID O’Meara is double-handed in today’s Ganton Stakes at York as stable stalwarts Mondialiste and Custom Cut go head to head in this mile contest.
Both horses have been magnificent servants to their respective connections over the years and both are previous winners on the Knavesmire.
Mondialiste, successful at Grade One level in America and Canada, drops in class and distance after finishing fourth in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown last month.
Stable jockey Danny Tudhope has opted for Mondialiste while Phil Makin rides Custom Cut, a 13-times winner who struck gold at Group-race level for the seventh time in the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown on his penultimate start.
North Yorkshire-based O’Meara said: “Mondialiste is in good form and ran well in the Brigadier Gerard to finish fourth.
“Coming back to a mile shouldn’t be a problem for him – he’s got plenty of boot for that.
“Custom Cut was a bit unfortunate in the Diomed at Epsom last time.
“He met a few traffic problems and might have finished fourth or fifth but for that.
“He won nicely in Ireland the time before that and hopefully he’ll run well, too.”
O’Meara’s great rival Richard Fahey saddles the admirable Gabrial, the mount of Paul Hanagan.
The Malton trainer said: “Gabrial, to be at his very best, wants a bit of juice in the ground but he’s as good as ever at the minute. He deserves to get his head in front again and must have a chance.”
Last season’s Cambridgeshire winner Spark Plug has performed well twice in defeat so far this term, finishing third in the Earl of Sefton at Newmarket before being beaten just a nose in the Festival Stakes at Goodwood three weeks ago.
Trainer Brian Meehan said: “He was just a little bit unlucky at Goodwood but we’ve been happy with him since and I think York will suit him well.
“It looks an open race. I suppose Gabrial might be the one (to beat), but our horse is bang there and has stepped up again this year.”
The Ganton is one of the features on the annual Macmillan Charity Raceday which has alreadt raised £7m.
Today’s card also includes The Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Stakes, run in memory of the inspirational shoe retailer, Cathy Paver, who died earlier this year.
Former champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa strengthened his grip on this year’s title race with a 969-1 five-timer at Sandown.
Already 11 clear at the start of racing, the 2015 champion got the afternoon off to a flyer aboard the Mark Johnston-trained Branscombe in the five-furlong novice event and swiftly doubled up for the Middleham handler on Falmouth Light in the seven-furlong maiden. De Sousa brought up his hat-trick as Roger Varian’s Call Me Grumpy scooted clear in the seven-furlong handicap and it was similarly easy work aboard his stablemate Shargiah, who comfortably justified favouritism in the nine-furlong handicap.
He looked to have a big chance of continuing his domination of the card in the one-mile fillies’ handicap aboard joint-favourite Tirania, but she was beaten a neck by market rival Time Chaser, ridden by James Doyle.
De Sousa, who hails from Brazil and who first came to prominence when riding in Yorkshire, won the finale on Johnston’s Dominating.