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Confidence high that Equiano can Star

Connections of the Barry Hills-trained Equiano appear confident of reversing form with Aidan O'Brien's Starspangledbanner when the pair clash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month.

Starspangledbanner came out on top by a neck in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, a dramatic race which saw Johnny Murtagh pick up a costly six-day riding ban which rules him out of the King George meeting at Ascot and the first two days of Glorious Goodwood.

The big sprint on the Knavesmire on August 20 is the next scheduled meeting point for the pair, with the drop back to five furlongs expected to benefit Equiano.

"It was so agonisingly close for our star sprinter Equiano in the July Cup.

"As usual he blasted from the stalls and nothing could live with him during the first five furlongs," reported the trainer's website, www.barryhills.com.

"Although he was just touched off by Starspangledbanner the great thing is he appeared to be coming back at him in the last few strides, which means our worries about the sixth furlong were unfounded.

"We are confident that over the five furlongs of the Nunthorpe he will reverse the placings with the winner.

"He has come out of the race well. However, the same thing cannot be said for Prime Defender.

"He was the first to be badly hampered at the start of the race when Starspangledbanner made his manoeuvre for the rail, and has come back from the race lame.

"He is usually a very sound horse, so hopefully he can return to contest the likes of the Sprint Cup at Haydock later in the season."

Overturn will be Donald McCain's first runner at the seven-day Galway Festival when he lines-up for the Arthur Guinness Galway Hurdle on July 29.

The talented dual-purpose performer is ante-post favourite for the valuable prize at Ballybrit and will bid to complete a remarkable double after his victory on the Flat in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle last month.

"He's in great nick which is why we are thinking of going again.

"We had a look through and this seemed an obvious race to aim for," said McCain.

"It is notoriously difficult to win a Irish handicap, but the handicapper did say it becomes more of a level playing field when you go up in the weights than when you are rated in the 120s.

"I'll take their word for it and we'll see how we go.

"Unless it gets too soft that's his obvious target."


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