El Astronaute ready for lift off in Listed sprint feature
D C Training and Development Services Scarbrough Stakes | Listed | 5f | ATR
El Astronaute blasted out of the handicap ranks quite possibly for good when scoring handsomely from Final Venture – a rival again on Wednesday – at York last time, and is out for a first black-type win in the feature contest on day one of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster.
The John Quinn-trained chestnut is on a career high mark of 106 for this nine-runner speed test, before which connections are hoping it stays dry.
A model of consistency, especially given that sprinters are prone to being in-and-out performers, El Astronaute chased home another of his rivals here, Under The Covers, at Goodwood in July, but looked to be on the up on the Knavesmire and Quinn is hopeful.
The Malton-based trainer said: "We've had this race in mind for El Astronaute ever since he won at York as his new mark of 106 means handicaps are now out.
"He's only five, which is young for this type of sprinter, and we'll see where he takes us from now on but there are plenty of options for him."
He added: "We've been very happy with him since York but we're hoping they don't get any more rain as I ran him on heavy at Haydock one day, which was a disaster, and I don't think soft suits him either.
"On the plus side, they haven't had a lot up to now and it will be fresh ground on the first day of the Leger meeting so we're hopeful."
A particularly interesting opponent is Sunsprite, who is out to become the first juvenile to win the race, although many have been placed, most recently Equimou, who was third in 2016.
The Richard Hughes-trained filly gets a stone or more off the others and the form of her latest third in a Listed contest at Ripon received a boost when sixth-placed Kessaar won a Group 3 at the weekend.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Jaber Abdullah, said: "Sunsprite has a chance off a mark of 99 and she goes there with a decent shout."
What connections say
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Saif Ali, owner of Haddaf
He's in good shape but has a penalty and we're hoping the blinkers can spark a revival.
Robert Cowell, trainer of Encore D'Or and Global Applause
Encore D'Or won the race last year but has been a bit hit and miss of late. If he runs to his rating he should be thereabouts. Global Applause was having his first start for us when winning smoothly at Sandown last time and on ratings should be right among them. He's a nice prospect if the ground stays on the easy side.
Paul Midgley, trainer of Final Venture
He was unfortunate at Beverley as he reared up just as the stalls opened. He was too far back and should have a big chance if he jumps on terms. He was a beaten favourite in this race last year but that was at the end of a busy campaign and he's a fresher horse this time.
Iain Jardine, trainer of Marnie James
Ideally he wants top of the ground so we don't want too much more rain. He's very consistent and goes there fresh and well.
Ron Harris, trainer of Under The Covers
The more rain the better for her and you can mark up her latest run in Ireland, where she did fantastically well to finish fourth after they came over to the stands' rail in the straight.
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