Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) | 6f | 2yo | ITV/RTV
His performances have been impressive, his form is eyecatching and his reputation is lofty. Now the time has come to see what Spartan Fighter can do in Group company.
Trained by Declan Carroll for prominent Yorkshire businessman Steve Parkin, Spartan Fighter defeated subsequent Norfolk Stakes and Prix Robert Papin winner A’Ali at Ripon in June, one of two wins from three starts for the son of Dutch Art.
Victory for Spartan Fighter may also help ease the pain still felt by Carroll over the loss of Santry, who finished second at Royal Ascot before sustaining a fatal injury while being prepared for the Gimcrack, two years ago.
“It’s nice to have horses of this quality to be contesting races like this,” Carroll said. “We’re really looking forward to the race and he’s an exciting horse.
“He’s in good order and he’s training well. This has been the target since he won at the course last time. We’re hoping for a very big run from him.”
Trainer Richard Hannon is Threat’s number one fan and it fell to him to continue the cheerleading for the colt after his defeat in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time.
Not that Threat ran badly, he just came off second best to subsequent Prix Morny third Golden Horde. But such is the faith Hannon has in Threat, he felt he needed to stick up for the Cheveley Park Stud-owned runner following the race.
“Threat is a very good horse,” he said. “I haven't lost confidence in him or lessened my admiration of him. He is always going to be a better three-year-old and I always hoped he was going to be a Guineas horse.”
Threat is the likely favourite to get back to winning ways after his runner-up efforts in the Coventry and Richmond Stakes, and connections will be hoping he can bolster his reputation with a first stakes success.
Kevin Ryan has made a habit of winning the Gimcrack Stakes with four victories in the race, including three times in the last ten years.
This year the trainer sends three runners out in pursuit of a fifth victory with Repartee, Byline and Abstemious attempting to emulate Amadeus Wolf (2005), Blaine (2012), Astaire (2013) and Emaraaty Ana last year.
Repartee made an impressive winning debut over course and distance but failed to back up that effort when beaten favourite for the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes last time out.
Like Repartee, Abstemious has course-and-distance winning form having triumphed here last time and while Byline does not have the same York experience as his stablemates, he is a half-brother to Blaine among others.
Adam Ryan, assistant to his father, said: “It’s such a prestigious race and that’s why we like to have runners in it, but we’re not running them for the sake of it. They’re three good horses, they deserve to take their chances and it’s hard to split them.
“Repartee was impressive on his debut but didn’t like the soft ground last time. Abstemious was a very good winner here last time and likes a bit of ease in the ground and Byline improved a good bit from his first run to winning his second race. Hopefully they can all put up good performances.”
Karl Burke, trainer of Dubai Station and Lord Of The Lodge
Dubai Station received a nice form boost when Earthlight, who beat us in the Prix de Cabourg, won the Prix Morny on Sunday. I came home a little disappointed with our fella that day – I felt he should have been second but he just petered out towards the end. He took a week or so to get over that race but he’s bouncing now and should put up a big show. Lord Of The Lodge worked very well last week – the best piece of work he’s done.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to Mark Johnston, trainer of Iffraaz and Misty Grey
Iffraaz is a horse we've always liked and Royal Ascot just came a bit too soon for him mentally. It's a big step up in class but he's a good horse and it's worth a go. Misty Grey has been running well in all the good two-year-old races this season and just coming up a bit short. We think six furlongs on a flat track like York should help him conserve his energy as he's a strong-travelling horse.
Marco Botti, trainer of Malotru
He won a Group 3 well in Italy last time but it’s hard to know the value of that form. He likes fast ground, I think the trip is what he wants and it’s time to test him in a proper race in England to see how good he is. His work has been very good so we’re looking forward to it.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Royal Commando
He was a bit unlucky in the Richmond at Goodwood as he got no run at all and we didn't learn too much. He's a horse we'll keep plenty of faith in and the track and ground should be fine for him. We think a bit of him. He's got a good attitude and temperament and I'm sure he's got plenty of ability.