DAVID O’MEARA is relishing the chance of Royal Ascot hero Lord Glitters taking on Crystal Ocean – the world’s best racehorse on official ratings – at York tomorrow.
The pair head a select nine runner field for the £1m Juddmonte International, the day one highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival on the Knavesmire.
No Yorkshire-trained horse has ever run this 10 furlong championship race first staged in 1972 and won in recent times by Sea The Stars and Frankel – two of racing’s all-time greats.
But the ambitious O’Meara, who trains near Helmsley, is relishing the chance of taking on Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean who was recently involved in one of the all-time great races when narrowly denied by the Frankie Dettori-inspired Enable in last month’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The grey Lord Glitters, who runs in the colours of Geoff and Sandra Turnbull who own Eldwick Stud, prevailed at Royal Ascot earlier this summer when landing the Queen Anne Stakes under Danny Tudhope, who is currently chasing a first jockeys’ championship. The vanquished that day included Karl Burke’s multiple Group One winner Laurens.
And though Lord Glitters subsequently disappointed in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last time out, O’Meara is hopeful a step up in trip to 10 furlongs for the first time will play to the strengths of his stable star in an elite race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.
He is further encouraged by the horse’s win in the nine-furlong Strensall Stakes at last year’s Ebor festival and hopes that a strong pace will enhance the chances of his champion.
“Harold Kirk was underbidder for Willie Mullins (Ireland’s champion National Hunt trainer) when we bought him at the sales in France in 2017 and they clearly had hurdling in mind for him. It could be that we’ve been running him over the wrong trip all this time!” explained O’Meara last night.
“He won over a mile and a quarter in France early in his career and he won the Strensall Stakes over nine furlongs at York last year, when he beat the subsequent Lockinge winner Mustashry.
“He also ran a blinder [behind Almond Eye] over that trip in the Dubai Turf and has never been stopping at the end of his races,” he said.
“There’s not a lot else to be running him in at this time and there’s fantastic prize money on offer, so why not have a go? We can always drop back in trip for the QEII [on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 19] later in the year.
“We are under no illusions it’s a tough race and he’s got quite a bit to find with the likes of Crystal Ocean, but he’s in great form and the fact he’s won at York is another tick in his box. The Sussex Stakes wasn’t run at an overly strong pace last time and he needs an end-to-end gallop in his races. There should be enough pace on Wednesday.”
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston has also declared Elarqam after the horse won last month’s Sky Bet York Stakes – former champion jockey Jim Crowley takes the ride.
Tomorrow will also see Logician face four rivals when he puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. The son of Frankel made a big impression when making a winning debut at Newbury in May and he has since completed a hat-trick with similarly dominant displays at Newmarket and back at Newbury.
Champion trainer John Gosden’s charge will be a hot favourite to make it four from four on the Knavesmire in this recognised trial for next month’s St Leger at Doncaster. Aidan O’Brien has saddled three previous winners of the Great Voltigeur and saddles Constantinople and Norway.
Gerald Mosse will renew his association with star sprinter Mabs Cross in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
In the absence of the sidelined Paul Mulrennan, the veteran French jockey stepped in to steer the Michael Dods-trained mare to Group One glory in last October’s Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.
Having since returned from injury, Mulrennan has been on board the five-year-old for each of her three outings this season – most recently finishing fourth behind the now-retired Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
However, owner David Armstrong is keen for Mosse to get back in the saddle on the Knavesmire on Friday – with the autumn defence of her crown in the Abbaye already in mind.
Darlington-based Dods said: “Obviously the owner is thinking of the Abbaye. Gerald Mosse won the Abbaye on her last year – and if he can ride her in France again, that is a big plus. It’s tough for Paul, but the owner is looking at the bigger picture.”
Mabs Cross came close to claiming Nunthorpe glory 12 months ago in the hands of Tom Eaves, going down by just a nose to Bryan Smart’s now injury-sidelined Alpha Delphini in the race of the meeting.