Sky's the limit for hardy 'Snow' - Stoute
Michael Stoute had no hesitation in nominating the Melbourne Cup as Snow Sky's ultimate target after his gallant defeat of Brown Panther in yesterday's Betway Yorkshire Cup.
Stoute's skill at developing his Classic generation into high-class older horses is renowned and Snow Sky, which was third in the 2014 St Leger, looks a hardy sort after making a solid start to his four-year-old career in the season's first significant staying race.
Brown Panther, jointly-owned by Michael Owen, was the 13/8 favourite after his impressive victory in Dubai in March and lost no honour in a half-length defeat as the Tom Dascombe-trained veteran was giving 6lb to his rival, which came out slightly on top after a captivating battle over the final two furlongs.
The pair should now go their separate ways, with Brown Panther likely to attempt to improve on his third in last year's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Ryan Moore, rider of 5/2 chance Snow Sky, was asked whether his mount would stay the Gold Cup trip, and replied: "I wouldn't have thought so, not two and a half (miles)."
Stoute said: "Delighted with him, he was very courageous and dug deep. Ryan said he got there a little too early and just looked around a bit. I think one mile six furlings is his limit, he's an effective horse over mile and a half, he was second in the Voltigeur, won a Gordon Stakes and a Lingfield Derby trial. I think I'd like to finish up in Melbourne."
Stoute believes that it is worth "throwing a dart" at Australia's famous race in early November, where runners do not have to be out-and-out two-milers to be competitive, but stopped short of detailing where Snow Sky would appear more imminently.
"We need to really stop and think. The Prince (Khalid Abdulla, owner) approved of the Melbourne Cup plan in the spring and we'll have to work it out."
Owen was thrilled with Brown Panther, saying: "I think the penalty cost him in the end. The winner won on merit, it was a great ride for a great trainer, there's no shame in coming second to that horse.
"Myself and Andrew (Black, fellow owner) penned down the first half of the season with Dubai, then Chester or here, and next will be the Ascot Gold Cup. Then we'll sit down and plan the second half of the season."
Mark Johnston had not featured during the first two days on Knavesmire but finished the fixture with a flourish by sending out four winners (all ridden by Silvestre de Sousa), with juvenile Delizia maintaining her unbeaten record with a gutsy victory in the Listed Marygate Fillies' Stakes.
Just 30 minutes after Delizia's win, the Middleham handler and De Sousa returned to the winner's enclosure when the fragile Notarised (9/1) cut loose in the Betway Jorvik Stakes.
Indescribable made it three for the same partnership when the 12/1 chance outflanked Bowson Fred by three-quarters of a length in the Ralph Raper Memorial Stakes.
Johnston, who also had a winner at Newmarket, landed the closing 12-furlong handicap when Yorkidding (5/2) powered clear under De Sousa.