Clearly relishing conditions in the Middle East, the veteran North Yorkshire horse will attempt, once again, to roll back the years on Dubai World Cup night.
After all, Lord Glitters is the popular grey who provided Upper Helmsley-based O’Meara, and jockey Danny Tudhope, with the biggest win of their respective careers when landing the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019.
Yet he had not subsequently graced the winners’ enclosure, despite a string of commendable runs in defeat, until taking Meydan’s Group Two Singspiel Stakes in January before finishing third in the Al Rashidiya last month.
However, Lord Glitters was given a patient ride by Tudhope – and looked booked for minor honours at best turning for home.
Yet, just when it seemed Eqtiraan might spring a shock after seeing off the challenge of odds-on favourite Al Suhail, Lord Glitters could be spotted powering home and got up in the closing strides to win the day and land a second success at the highest level.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said O’Meara.
“To win a Group One as an eight-year-old – he’s been an unbelievable horse for us. He’s the horse a lifetime, really. They haven’t gone very quick and he’s been wide throughout. He took a while to get going, but won well in the end.”
Lord Glitters carries the colours of the late Geoff Turnbull and his wife Sandra, whose Elwick Stud is a great benefactor of racing and in particular the Leger Legends race at Doncaster.
O’Meara added: “It’s great for the Turnbull family. Geoff’s son runs the job now and I’m sure Geoff will be looking down very pleased. The horse is having a great year with two wins and a third. Matt Ennis is out there with him and is doing a great job.”
Lord Glitters finished a close third behind Japanese mare Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf in 2019. Asked if he would have a second tilt at the World Cup night prize later this month, O’Meara said: “Why not? It’s huge money, so absolutely.
“He was third in the race two years ago. Fillies finished first, second and fourth and he was giving them all 5lb and was only beaten a length and three-quarters.”
The Meydan meeting also saw Acklam Express finish third in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint for North Yorkshire trainer Nigel Tinkler and young jockey Rowan Scott.
Cloth Cap cemented his place as ante-post favourite for the Randox Grand National with a dominant front-running display in the bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso.
Making his first appearance since landing the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, Jonjo O’Neill’s charge led from the start and could hardly have been more impressive under Tom Scudamore, who was recording his 50th success of the season.
A bold leap at the final obstacle sealed his success with Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red back in fourth as age – and a high handicap mark – catch up with this long-time standard-bearer of Yorkshire jump racing. More significantly, the hefty hike in the handicap for this win will not affect Cloth Cap’s already pre-determined 10st 5lb National mark.
“I was very pleased with him. He travelled away nicely and jumped well,” said O’Neill. “He’s just in great old form at home - he’s a happy horse. He’s a bit of an old character, but he’s a year older and a bit stronger and things are going right for him at the moment. Fingers crossed it will stay that way for a bit longer.
“He jumps well and he stays well, which are two good things to have when you’re going for a National. The plan was to go and win the National last year. We don’t mind if it’s a year late!”
O’Neill, who famously provided Sir AP McCoy with an elusive Grand National success through Don’t Push It in 2010, is hoping Cloth Cap can secure owner Trevor Hemmings a fourth, following the previous triumphs of Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).
He added: “It would be special to win the National for him (Hemmings). He’s just told me off, because the horse will be too short a price now and he won’t be able to back him!”
Sue and Harvey Smith’s horses are returning to form after a quiet spell by their own high standards and they hope Small Present, victorious at Doncaster, could develop into a National horse of the future.
Aafke Clarke’s horse got the better of Skandiburg in a thrilling finale to the three-mile handicap hurdle, providing former champion jockey Richard Johnson with his first winner for the High Eldwick training team in his illustrious 25-year career.
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