The Grey Gatsby (left): steps up in tip
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Baxter 6:51PM 6 JUL 2016
THE GREY GATSBY brings star quality to the opening day of the July festival on Thursday and, with summer finally making a belated appearance, conditions look perfect for the fast-ground specialist.
Frank Gillespie’s Group 1 winner has a serious preference for quicker ground, which went unquenched in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on his seasonal reappearance, although he still put in a spirited performance to finish fourth to mud-lover My Dream Boat.
But with the sunshine finally making a concerted appearance, conditions will be much more favourable for the five-year-old in the Princess of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes, where he faces a new challenge in the shape of two extra furlongs.
Not since the Grand Prix de Paris in 2014 has The Grey Gatsby tackled 1m4f, finishing sixth that day, since when he has run exclusively over shorter.
The 2014 Irish Champion Stakes winner has done well since his seasonal reappearance, according to connections, who hope Thursday’s Group 2 will be the ideal springboard back to the top level.
Adam Ryan, son and assistant to trainer Kevin, said: “He ran a great race at Ascot. The ground beat him there. It seems to be drying out at Newmarket which will suit him. He’s in great order, and goes there with a leading chance.
“Obviously the ground will dictate his programme for the rest of the year, but the Juddmonte is the likely target after this and then possibly the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. “
Keeping the faith
Jamie Spencer has stayed loyal to The Grey Gatsby, with last year’s winner Big Orange no doubt an attractive alternative.
Michael Bell’s five-year-old went on to be fifth in the Melbourne Cup under Spencer after his win 12 months ago but will have the assistance of top Australian-based rider James McDonald on this occasion.
Bell said: “There’s no reason he shouldn’t run a good race. Jamie has deserted us in favour of The Grey Gatsby and on the ratings he’s made the right decision but he wouldn’t be the first jockey to get it wrong!”
Watering to maintain
Clerk of the course Michael Prosser was pleased with the course on the eve of the three-day meeting, although took the measure of adding 5mm of water to the track to maintain the conditions on Wednesday.
He said: “It’s got to the point now where we’re watering the course to maintain where we are. The current going description is good to firm, good in places and I’m delighted where we are.
“The home straight is entirely good to firm and then good down to the Beacon Course which links in with the July course home straight. That runs from a mile up to the 1m5f start for the Bahrain Trophy, that is good ground.”