Nakeeta 'spot on' for bid to become first back-to-back Ebor winner in 95 years
You have to go back to 1923 to find the last dual winner of the Ebor, but trainer Iain Jardine believes last year's winner Nakeeta is "spot on" as he aims to end a 95-year drought next week.
The winner of Britain's richest handicap by a head last season, seven-year-old Nakeeta has run with credit in three big-field efforts this year, including when fifth of 16 in the JLT Cup at Newbury last time.
The son of Sixties Icon, who finished fifth in last year's Melbourne Cup, is 4lb higher for York's £500,000 feature event on Saturday week, but his trainer is delighted with his preparation as he attempts to replicate the effort of dual-winner Flint Jack in 1923.
The Scottish trainer said of the general 16-1 chance: "We’re excited for it. He won the race last year, it’s a tough handicap to win, but the horse is very well and we’re looking forward to it.
"His work at home has been very good and we were happy with his last run at Newbury – we think he’s a bit better than that. The plan has always been to get him to the Ebor.
"You need an awful lot of luck-in-running and a good draw, but I’m hoping for a good run –I’m sure he’ll go well."
Nakeeta was beaten three and three-quarter-lengths by Stratum, the current 4-1 favourite for the Ebor, in the inaugural running of the JLT Cup, but the Willie Mullins-trained rival has been raised 8lb while Nakeeta is only 1lb higher.
Jardine added: "We’ll be meeting Stratum on a lot more even terms this time – we gave him a lot of weight at Newbury but he’s gone up 8lb. It brings things much closer, and we’ll have every chance.
"It’s a handicap so you don’t know if anything is lurking about that’s well handicapped but we know what we’ve got, we know how good he is and we know he’s spot on for the race.
"It was a great achievement to win the race last season – it was a fantastic day. We were thrilled to bits to have a horse good enough to run in the race, and having had the second in the race the year before with Shrewd, to go one better was a great thrill.
On whether Jardine feels Nakeeta can end the long drought of back-to-back winners, he said: "It’s going to be tough, it’s been a long wait for it to happen but the horse is going there spot on. If he happened to do it again, it would mean the world."
Back to the land of Oz
Another venture to Flemington is also on the agenda for Nakeeta, having been beaten just six and a half-lengths in Australia's flagship race last season.
"He ran in the Melbourne Cup last year, and it would definitely be an option again," Jardine added.
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