Trainer John Gosden is set to bring a team brimming with stars to next week’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York.
He put several of his key contenders through their paces on the Newmarket gallops yesterday morning ahead of the four-day meeting, which starts next Wednesday (August 22).
Tomorrow marks the latest entry stage of the Juddmonte International Stakes and Gosden plans to leave three G1-winning aces in the £1 million race, which will be run on the opening afternoon of the Festival.
Dante and Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, Champion Stakes hero Cracksman and St James’s Palace Stakes victor Without Parole all remain in line for a shot at the prestigious extended mile-and-a-quarter race, which has so far eluded Gosden.
But the master of Clarehaven Stables explained that the weather will have a key part to play in deciding which of his charges lines up on the Knavesmire next Wednesday.
Asked whether he could be triple-handed, Gosden said: “It’s very much ground dependent. I’ll just leave them in the race and then we’ll just see what the weather does. Anything can happen this time of year – you can get thunderstorms. So let’s just assess it. We’ll probably have to go quite close to the race to work it out.
“Roaring Lion is in good form. He did a public workout at the July Course on Saturday. We are happy with him going into the race.
“We’ve finally had some rain here at Newmarket and Cracksman worked nicely on the Limekilns this morning, just getting his toe in, which he appreciates.
“Without Parole did a breeze. Obviously the Sussex Stakes [in which Without Parole suffered a first career defeat] was a somewhat muddling affair to say the least, and we have him in mind for the race. But then he does not want to see much rain. He likes top of the ground.
“It is looking like a very interesting race. We’ve plenty of respect for the opposition. Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion have met before, bringing the 3-year-old form there, and then you’ve got some very good, rock-solid older horse form.”
Stradivarius will bid to land the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million by virtue of a victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup next Friday.
The seven-figure incentive was launched at the start of the season, offered if a horse could win one of four recognised prep races before going on to land the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Goodwood Cup and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
Stradivarius has proved the staying star of the season, starting out with a triumph in the Yorkshire Cup and then recording G1 glory at Ascot and Goodwood. Now the bonus appears to be within touching distance for the 4-year-old, who stretched out on the Al Bahathri polytrack yesterday morning.
But Gosden explained: “It’s not been the be-all and end-all of his year. It’s just happened those races have fitted him well and he has come out on top in all of them. So we’ll see. Nothing is simple as it seems, certainly not that with horses running in races. But we’re happy with him at the moment.
“He ran a valiant race in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and he ran a very tidy race in the Goodwood Cup. He has won nicely at York this year – the Yorkshire Cup – so it’s a track he likes. We’re pleased with him at this stage.”
Coronet is another key Gosden-trained runner at York – she is heading towards the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday. On the same card, talented 2-year-old Angel’s Hideaway is in line for a shot at the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.
Gosden said: “Coronet is pointing for the Yorkshire Oaks. It looks like it could be a very good edition. There will be some very smart 3-year-olds and she brings the 4-year-old form there. Angel’s Hideaway is looking towards the Lowther. She won the G3 Princess Margaret last time.”
The final day of the meeting August 25, could see Gosden double-handed in the £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor.
The trainer confirmed: “At this stage we plan to run Weekender and Muntahaa in the Ebor. They seem well in themselves and both breezed [yesterday] morning.”