Brian Meehan: trainer of Spark Plug
PICTURE: Caroline Norris (racingpost.com/photos)
By Bruce Jackson 7:30AM 1 JUL 2016
GM Hopkins could not repeat his 2015 win in the Royal Hunt Cup last month, so connections are giving the five-year-old a new challenge by raising his sights in terms of trip while lowering the number of his rivals in the Gala Stakes at Sandown (4.00).
Spark Plug, who finished nine places in front of GM Hopkins in 12th at Ascot, will equally feel less claustrophobic while having experience of today’s 1m2f trip, albeit singularly unsuccessfully.
Brian Meehan was left wondering what might have been at Ascot after Spark Plug was blocked in his run twice at the business end and hopes compensation is around the corner.
The Manton trainer said: “He ran an excellent race in similar ground – he was running on very strongly at the finish and the ground and conditions of this race should suit him well.”
GM Hopkins had no such excuses, although shouldering top weight in the soft ground did not help his cause.
His trainer John Gosden said: “He’s high enough in the weights in handicaps these days, so we’re trying him in a Listed race over a longer trip. It’s a fact-finding mission and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.”
Ayrad will have his supporters as he returns to the course and distance over which he ran third to Eclipse contender My Dream Boat in a Group 3 in April.