Monday 19 February 2018

O'Brien hopeful Rip can sparkle at York

Murtagh: rides Rip Van Winkle at York.
Murtagh: rides Rip Van Winkle at York.

Thomas Kelly

Aidan O'Brien goes to York tomorrow with high hopes that Rip Van Winkle can capture the featured Juddmonte International Stakes.

Rip Van Winkle ran poorly on his seasonal debut at Royal Ascot but showed he was on the way back when runner-up to the classy Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes over a mile at Glorious Goodwood.

Johnny Murtagh's mount should benefit from the step up to 10 and a half furlongs and, with a decent gallop assured, the four-year-old looks certain to start favourite. Khalid Abdullah will be represented by Byword and Twice Over as he tries to win a race he sponsors.

The owner-breeder has yet to win the Group One showpiece his Juddmonte Farms has backed since 1989, but his duo give him a strong hand in the showpiece, for which a field of nine has been declared.

The pair fought out of the finish of the Prince of Wales' Stakes at Ascot, with the Andre Fabre-trained Byword beating Henry Cecil's Twice Over by half a length. Twice Over has since tasted victory in the Coral-Eclipse.

Richard Hannon's Dick Turpin -- supplemented at a cost of £50,000 at the confirmation stage -- tackles an extended mile and a quarter for the first time after his win in the Prix Jean Prat.

Godolphin are double-handed with Cavalryman and Cutlass Bay while David Simcock's Bushman, Italian challenger Jakkalberry and Stimulation, trained by Hughie Morrison, complete the line-up.

Cavalryman, third to Sea The Stars in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, has yet to hit form this season but he is the choice of Frankie Dettori, with Kieren Fallon booked to ride Cutlass Bay.

Meanwhile, Doncaster St Leger fancies Midas Touch and Rewilding put their Classic claims on the line in the Great Voltigeur Stakes tomorrow. The pair, currently vying for favouritism, are among 10 horses declared for the Group Two over a mile and a half.

Rewilding, owned by Godolphin and trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, has not run since finishing third in the Epsom Derby behind Workforce and At First Sight.

Midas Touch, trained by O'Brien, was fifth at Epsom but has since taken second place in the Irish Derby. O'Brien also runs Joshua Tree, which makes his seasonal bow. Michael Stoute's Total Command, the Mark Tompkins-trained Ted Spread and Mark Johnston's Monterosso will also be looking to book their ticket to Town Moor.

William Haggas has left in Harris Tweed, but the Newmarket trainer has said he will declare his father's colt for Wednesday's Totesport Ebor to see if he makes the cut.

Juddmonte International -- Latest betting: 13/8 Rip Van Winkle, 3/1 Byword, 7/2 Twice Over, 4/1 Dick Turpin, 25/1 bar.

Irish Independent

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