Confirmed runners and riders for Friday's Yorkshire Cup at York
The Mark Johnston-trained duo Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road are set to square off against last year’s Irish Derby hero Santiago as a field of five was declared for the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (3.10) on Friday.
The highlight of the final day of York’s Dante meeting is run over 1m6f and should provide some pointers as to who is best placed to challenge reigning champion Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup next month, with all three of the market principals holding entries in the prestigious Royal Ascot Group 1.
After finishing second in the 2019 St Leger, Sir Ron Priestley returned from 571 days off the track with victory at Nottingham in April and proved he retained all of his class and more with a two-and-a-half length triumph over Pyledriver in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket last time out.
The five-year-old heads the market ahead of stablemate Nayef Road, who has been beaten by Stradivarius in three of his last four outings including when second in last year’s Ascot Gold Cup and when third on his return to action in Ascot's Sagaro Stakes.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Santiago splits the Johnston duo in the betting despite being beaten at odds-on when returning in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last month.
Franny Norton continues his partnership with Sir Ron Priestley, with Ben Curtis booked to ride Nayef Road and Ryan Moore on Santiago.
Spanish Mission, for trainer Andrew Balding and jockey William Buick, and the Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go complete the line-up.
Elsewhere on York’s Friday card, the Richard Hannon-trained Snow Lantern heads eight declarations for the Listed Oaks Farm Stables Fillies' Stakes (2.10).
The impeccably-bred Frankel filly out of 1,000 Guineas heroine Sky Lantern was a convincing winner of a maiden at Newbury in April and is as short as 10-1 for the Cazoo Oaks on June 4.
The Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot has been a more traditional next stop for York winners, and Snow Lantern also holds an entry for the Royal Ascot Group 1, as does the Roger Charlton-trained Love Is You who is rivalling the favourite in the market.
Godolphin duo Creative Flair and Divine Light also feature, with John and Thady Gosden represented by the Frankie Dettori-ridden Kestenna.
The William Haggas-trained Sea Empress, a general 14-1 chance for the Oaks, was a notable withdrawal but the Sea The Stars filly does hold two entries for Saturday in a pair of Listed contests at Newmarket and Newbury.
The ground at York was changed officially to good to soft, good in places after racing on Wednesday and raceday clerk of the course Anthea Leigh said: "It dried up a little through the day.
"Tomorrow we will be on the inner-most line from the nine furlongs to the entrance to the straight and that will probably be slightly better ground.
"And the forecast now suggests there is only a small chance of any rain before the end of the meeting."
Yorkshire Cup runners and riders
1 Sir Ron Priestley Franny Norton
2 Spanish Mission William Buick
3 Nayef Road Ben Curtis
4 Santiago Ryan Moore
5 Wells Farhh Go David Allan
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