Carroll bids for Ebor repeat with Elyaadi
The reigning Irish champion apprentice, Gary Carroll, will be hoping that lightning strikes twice for him at York this afternoon when partnering Elyaadi in the Ebor Handicap, the totesport feature in which he triumphed 12 months ago aboard Sesenta for Willie Mullins.
However, John Queally's Elyaadi, along with Salute Him from Tony Martin's yard and Dirar for Gordon Elliott, face quite a formidable task in the coveted £210,000 contest.
Successful from the front in both Newcastle's Northumberland Plate and the Guinness Hurdle in Galway, Donald McCain's versatile Overturn has been well backed to complete an unprecedented treble, while a host of top English Flat trainers have likewise targeted the Ebor.
Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes, for instance, believe their remarkable winning streak this season will continue as Martyr carries a 4lb penalty in search of a hat-trick, as does Andrew Balding's back-to-form Bernie The Bolt with Wexford's Jimmy Fortune aboard.
Salute Him looks exposed at this juncture and Galway Hurdle third Dirar has much more on his plate now than when scoring at Ayr, so the best hope of back-to-back Irish victories rests with Elyaadi, on which Carroll won on the Singspiel mare's seasonal return over today's trip at Leopardstown.
Stepped up to two and a half miles in the Ascot Stakes, Queally's charge was forced wide most of the way for Fran Berry and only got into contention late on, by which time David Pipe's Junior already had the spoils in safe keeping.
Likely to be ridden rather closer to the pace this time, Elyaadi, which should relish the good ground, merits a little each-way support, although it might be asking too much of the six-year-old to match strides with Overturn and Martyr.
Tipperary native Eddie Ahern, who renews his victorious Newcastle association with Overturn, may be on the mark in the preceding Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes on the William Haggas-trained Approve despite sharing top weight with Jeremy Noseda's Curragh scorer Formosina, while the William Jarvis-trained Opinion Poll might capitalise on the enforced absence of Ask in the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup.
Meanwhile, Hughes has has come in for the plum spare ride on dual Oaks heroine Snow Fairy in tomorrow's Yorkshire Oaks. Ryan Moore partnered Snow Fairy to her Classic victories at Epsom and The Curragh, but is ruled out due to a wrist injury, and trainer Ed Dunlop has swooped to secure the services of Hughes.
Among Snow Fairy's rivals are Sariska, which completed the Oaks double last year, and Midday, second at Epsom last year and winner of the Group One Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on her most recent start.
Godolphin's Ribblesdale winner Hibaayeb will be joined by stablemate Flying Cloud, while Meeznah will be ridden by Kieren Fallon.
2.15 -- Opinion Poll
2.50 -- Approve
3.25 -- Elyaadi (each-way)