WHAT a start to the season Kevin Ryan has made. Just over a week since Hot Streak landed the Temple Stakes at Haydock, The Grey Gatsby ran out a very impressive winner of the French Derby last Sunday.
Owned by Frank Gillespie and ridden by Ryan Moore, The Grey Gatsby broke the track record at Chantilly when bounding to a decisive success in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club over 1m2½f, having already landed the Dante Stakes at York last month.
The son of Mastercraftsman is likely to have his next start over the same distance in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York in August, but Ryan is also eyeing a step up in trip with his first Classic winner.
“I think we will be trying a mile and a half at some stage towards the end of the year,”
Ryan said. “He could be supplemented for the Arc but he is going to have a holiday now.
“France was always the plan and he is going to have a break for a couple of weeks and we’ll map out a campaign for the second half of the year.
“We’ll prepare him for the Juddmonte at York next.
“We have always held the horse in high regard. He was very immature last year and he is still improving. I think there’s still a lot of improvement in the horse.”
Reflecting on his first Classic winner, Ryan added: “It meant an awful lot. It was great and proved the Dante form was no fluke.”
Mark Johnston, who has trained 35 winners at Royal Ascot, will be looking to have a strong team to represent him this year and Muteela booked her ticket after winner nicely at Newmarket last Saturday.
Afterwards the winning trainer said: “There´s not a lot of her and she´s taking a bit of time to fill out. She´s from a cracking family including Middle Park winner Awzaan and Hajras, and she had to win today to get into the Sandringham at Royal Ascot.”
York also raced on Saturday and Johnston was also on the scoresheet there.
Mister Universe was the horse in question, losing his maiden tag at the second time of asking under Graham Lee, and looks a very smart horse in the making.
Deirdre Johnston was in the winners’ enclosure, saying: “Mister Universe was just beaten last time and has done nothing wrong today. He´s a lovely horse. We´ll see how he comes out of this and then discuss with the owner where we go next.”
The new week started with a six-race card at Carlisle and Run Fat Lass Run followed up her Newcastle success in the apprentice handicap.
Trained by Philip Kirby, the winner was ridden by the yards own apprentice Eva Moscrop, staying on well close home.
The final race of the evening also went to a Middlehamtrained horse, this time it was Karl Burke’s We’ll Shake Hands turn to win, making all the running under Danny Tudhope.
Anybody who realised that John Weymes had sent Elizabeth Coffee all the way down to Yarmouth on Tuesday will have been rewarded with a nice winner.
Jamie Spencer was the jockey on board, delighted with the win, he said: “John said she would win as she was fit from a win over jumps. Also she should have won at Ayr last time on the Flat so she was entitled to win like that.”
With all the rain around, Ripon had to pass an inspection before they raced on Wednesday evening. Little doubt about the race of the night, that came in the finale with the horses in a photo finish.
All three are trained in Middleham, with the Mikey Hammond inmate Rayadour coming home in front from the Phil Kirby trained Rumble Of Thunder and George Moore’s Cowslip narrowly touched off in third.
Today and tomorrow all eyes will be on the action at Epsom, with the Investec Oaks today, followed by the Derby tomorrow.
In today’s feature a total of 17 fillies have been declared for the Oaks, run this year in memory of Sir Henry Cecil, headed by the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned pair of Taghrooda and Tarfasha.
John Gosden’s Taghrooda shot to the head of the betting for the Classic when winning the Pretty Polly at Newmarket in startling fashion. The Sheikh’s retained jockey Paul Hanagan will be on board.
Tarfasha is trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld and was an impressive winner of the Blue Wind Stakes, however, Weld has repeatedly stated she would not be at home on rainsoftened ground.
David Simcock is one of a number of trainers with more than one chance. He runs the Musidora winner Madame Chiang and Momentus, third in the Lingfield Oaks Trial behind Ralph Beckett’s Honor Bound, the choice of Jim Crowley over stablemate Regardez.
Tomorrow the hot favourite for the Derby will be Australia, in a bid to give Aiden O’Brien another win in the worlds most famous flat race.
He commands the upmost respect but I think Kingston Hill can run a big race for his young trainer Roger Varian.