Richard Fahey sends out a team of four in tomorrow’s £50,000 Sky Bet Dash (3.45pm) at York in a bid to repeat his 2006 success with Wyatt Earp. His quartet is headed by 6/1 joint-favourite Knot In Wood - fourth in 2006 when favourite - but Fahey is hoping for a big show from the progressive Harrison George (9/1).
Knot In Wood battled well on his most recent start at Hamilton just seven days ago to land the Scottish Stewards’ Cup by a nose from Baby Strange. Although the six-year-old will carry top-weight of 9st 10lb tomorrow, his trainer is hopeful of another good performance.
Fahey said this morning: "Knot In Wood is in good form and he won well the other day. He’s gone up a few pounds as well, so he will have to give weight all around which will be tough but he has a good chance.
"He hasn’t done much in the last week - he’s just been cantering away. He’s fit so he doesn’t need much. He takes his racing well and has come out of Hamilton grand."
Harrison George, who won the Hearthstead Homes Handicap over a furlong further at York on July 11, is becoming somewhat of a course specialist, with his last two wins coming on the Knavesmire, while he hasn’t been out of the first three in his four course starts.
"Harrison George is a nice horse - I like him. Whether or not Knot In Wood will be able to give him the weight, we’ll see tomorrow," explained the Malton handler.
"He likes it at York and the owner likes it there too so that’s why he keeps running there. I think he would have won anywhere but the owner likes to go to York.
"Tomorrow is a big day for Harrison George, to see whether he can step up a gear. He’s been progressive all year and is a nice horse."
Fahey’s quartet is completed by Kaldoun Kingdom (14/1), who returned to form over the course and distance to finish second in the John Smith’s Extra Cold Handicap on July 12, and Sunrise Safari (25/1), who has failed to sparkle on his two starts this season after racing in Dubai over the winter.
"Kaldoun Kingdom will only run if it rains. He’s in good order but to be at his best, he needs soft ground. Sunrise Safari is in good order too but he hasn’t got a great draw (17)," added Fahey.
GODOLPHIN PAIR PRIMED FOR SKY BET YORK STAKES
The Maktoum family’s Godolphin operation is seeking a second success in the Group Two £100,000 Sky Bet York Stakes (3.15pm) tomorrow, following Stage Gift’s success 12 months ago.
Stage Gift, a 16/1 chance with Sky Bet, lines up once again in the extended 10 furlong contest, alongside his stablemate Campanologist, winner of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and Sky Bet’s 5/2 second favourite.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor told www.godolphin.com: "Campanologist worked very well on Tuesday and he's in good form. He's really happy and I am looking forward to seeing a good run from him on Saturday.
"Stage Gift also looks well and he has been pleasing me with his work. He won this race last year but that was on heavy ground and he would need some cut to take his chance this time. We will have to check to see if the ground will be suitable for him to run."
BULWARK FIRING AHEAD OF ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND GOODWOOD CUP
FANTASTIC RACING ON LADIES DAY
Alvechurch trainer Ian Williams revealed today that Chester Cup winner Bulwark is in sparkling form ahead of the £100,000 Group Two Royal Bank Of Scotland Goodwood Cup (3.30pm), run over two miles at Glorious Goodwood on Ladies Day, Thursday, July 31.
The six-year-old gelding, one of 16 horses entered at the six-day stage, bounced right back to form in the extended two and a quarter mile Chester Cup in May, taking the ultra competitive prize at 33/1 under Jim Crowley. He contested the marathon Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, finishing fourth of 16 to Honolulu.
The trainer revealed: "Bulwark is probably in better form now than when he won the Chester Cup, so I’m hopeful of a good run in the Royal Bank Of Scotland Goodwood Cup.
"He’s in great form, he’s on top of his game and is very much an intended runner. Jim Crowley will take the ride and he’ll probably be more suited to the two miles at Goodwood than he was by the longer trip at Ascot last time. This will play more to his strengths than the two miles five furlongs that day."
Trained by Amanda Perrett prior to joining Williams for a hurdling campaign last autumn, Bulwark has twice finished eighth in the Royal Bank Of Scotland Goodwood Cup, behind Yeats in 2006 and Allegretto 12 months ago, but Williams believes his charge is capable of better this time around.
He continued: "Good to firm ground would be ideal. It might just affect one or two of the others if the ground was a bit quick whereas it probably wouldn’t upset him too much.
"He’s had a fantastic year and hasn’t run badly previously in the Goodwood Cup. The track won’t be a problem and he’s in very good from with himself."
The great Yeats took the spoils in 2006 and is one of two entries trained by Aidan O’Brien, the other being Queen Alexandra Stakes victor Honolulu.
A fitting victor on Ladies Day would be Allegretto. The top-class mare stayed on strongly to secure success last year for trainer Sir Michael Stoute and could bid to become the first back-to-back winner since the phenomenal Double Trigger, who won in 1997 and 1998 after also taking the prize in 1995.
Stoute may also saddle 2005 Royal Bank Of Scotland Goodwood Cup victor Distinction, while the Brian Ellison-trained Carte Diamond and Peppertree Lane from Mark Johnston’s yard could take their places in the line-up.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor may run Sagara, Eastern Anthem and Regal Flush, while others who could contest the historic race are Mad Rush, Gee Dee Nen, Mores Wells, Tungsten Strike, Sergeant Cecil and Yellowstone.
Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of Lester Piggott’s Goodwood Cup triumph on the great Vincent O’Brien-trained mare Gladness.
A tremendous afternoon of racing on Ladies’ Day commences at 2.15pm with the £70,000 Moet Hennessy Fillies’ Stakes over a mile and three quarters, which was won last year by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Hi Calypso. She is one of 15 fillies and mares to be entered today.
Others include the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Folk Opera and Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Miracle Seeker, trained by Clive Cox.
Speed is the name of the game in the £70,000 Group Three Audi Stakes (2.50pm) over five furlongs and 22 sprinters are engaged at the six-day stage, including the classy Dandy Nicholls-trained quintet of Tax Free, successful in a Group Three at the Curragh last time, Peace Offering, Strike Up The Band, Mast Plasta and Inxile.
Last year’s victor Moorhouse Lad, trained by Bryan Smart, is on target for the race and could again face last year’s runner-up, the William Haggas-trained Enticing.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Dandy Man was a length fourth to Equiano in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and could take his chance, as could Group One winner Desert Lord and the three-year-old Fat Boy, runner-up in the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in 2007.
The fantastic seven-race card also includes the 10-furlong £100,000 Summer Vase Heritage Handicap (4.05pm), the seven-furlong £40,000 XL Insurance Heritage Handicap (4.40pm), the £20,000 EBF New Ham Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (5.15pm) over seven furlongs and the five-furlong £20,000 De Boer Handicap (5.50pm).
The draw for Saturday’s £100,000 bluesquare.com Stewards’ Cup takes place before racing on Thursday, July 31, with connections able to select their own stalls berth and there is sure to be much debate as to which side will come out on top in 2008.
Seamus Buckley, Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, said today: "After two very warm days and after taking a Turftrax going stick reading at 2.00pm today, it is now giving an average reading of 8.8.
"This slightly higher reading is indicative of the drying conditions however the course is in exactly the condition we would want it to be at this stage.
"The forecast is for rain moving into the area on Monday night and early Tuesday morning and in view of this forecast we will not continue watering on the straight course but we will review the situation on a daily basis.
"The going is good in the straight and good to firm on the round course. If the forecast rain doesn’t materialise, we may have to resume our watering programme."
NEWMARKET NIGHTS BREAK RECORDS
For the first time ever, Newmarket Racecourses has sold over 100,000 tickets for the Newmarket Nights Friday evening series.
Managing Director, Stephen Wallis, said: "This is a notable milestone and reflects not only the quality of music and the horse racing that attracts people to Newmarket Racecourses, but also firmly establishes Newmarket Nights as one of East Anglia’s must-attend events."
Despite reaching this figure of pre-booked tickets sold; there is still chance to see UB40 on Friday 25th July, The Feeling on Friday 1st August and Boyzone on Friday 15th August by booking online or purchasing tickets on the gate.