Jockey Jason Hart on a Voyage of discovery after York win

JASON Hart is on a voyage of discovery with Safe Voyage, the aptly-named horse helping to take his career to his new heights.

This was Safe Voyage and Jason Hart winning the City of York Stakes at a rain-soaked York.

They made all in a torrential rainstorm to win the Sky Bet City of York Stakes on the final day of the Ebor Festival and provide the jockey with the first Group Two win of his career.

And now connections will consider Group One races for this seven-year-old whose Derby day win at Epsom in July was the 1,000th success of Malton trainer John Quinn’s career.

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They include the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp on Arc day – it is Europe’s sole Group One race over seven furlongs and a strong showing by Safe Voyage would help York make the case for their race to be raised to this status.

Jason Hart's win at York on Safe Voyage was the biggest of the jockey's career.

Also on the horizon are the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Qipco British Champions Day, a race that will be without Marcus Tregoning’s brilliant Sussex Stakes winner Mohaather who was retired yesterday after picking up “significant bone bruising” in his near hind fetlock.

And there’s the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland if Quinn, and owner Steve Harmon believe conditions in America will suit Safe Voyage. This, after all, is a horse who broke a pelvis on his racecourse debut at Pontefract.

Safe Voyage was also luckless when Hart, the 2013 champion apprentice, rode the gelding for the first time at Ayr in September 2016. “My saddle slipped when I rode him,” the rueful Malton-based jockey told The Yorkshire Post. “I thought he was an absolute certainty that day. Everything was going right and all of a sudden I ended up on the deck. These things can happen.”

Yet Hart’s instincts were correct. Safe Voyage was a horse going places and two wins at Haydock last summer preceded a fourth placed run behind William Haggas’s One Master in the 2019 Prix de la Foret.

This was the scene on the Knavesmire when Safe Voyage won the City of York Stakes. Photo: York Racecourse.

Impressive at Epsom last month, Safe Voyage had no luck when fourth at Goodwood before getting the better of One Master by three and a half lengths at York.

The most notable Yorkshire winner at the 2020 Ebor Festival, it was a special day for Hart who decided to make all when 2019 winner Shine So Bright was pulled out due to the inclement weather.

“It was almost a happy feeling that the weather was so c***,” said the jockey. “When the weather is bad, the ground is going to be in Safe Voyage’s favour. The softer the better. When I gave the saddle to John, Shine So Bright was pulled out and that was the obvious frontrunner. I just thought it was the right thing to do.

“I didn’t know what was going on behind me – we got rolling when we wanted to get rolling. From my point of view, it went the way I wanted and but I didn’t know if anything was going to come out of the pack.”

Delighted to have broken his Group Two duck – the jockey added the word “eventually” for emphasis – Hart hopes there’s more to come.

“He’s the most laid back horse and takes everything in his stride. It was his first time at York and he handled it well,” he added. “A Group One is what everyone wants and hopefully I am able to get one – and with him. You’d like to think that was a Group One performance at York.”

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James Mitchinson