'The target since he was bought' - insight and trainer quotes for the Gimcrack
Friday: 3.00 York
Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) | 6f | 2yo colts and geldings | ITV/RTV
This could easily have been a rematch between Lusail and Berkshire Shadow because the pair were due to meet in the Vintage Stakes over 7f at Goodwood last month, but Lusail was declared a non-runner due to the easing ground and only Berkshire Shadow ran.
There was not much between the pair in the market at the time of Lusail's withdrawal on that occasion, but he is a clear favourite with most firms in the overnight betting this time.
That is probably because Berkshire Shadow was beaten for the first time in that Goodwood contest, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Angel Bleu in second, but he lost no caste in defeat on going softer than ideal to a rival he had previously beaten in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Lusail has won three of his four starts, and his only defeat also came at the hands of Angel Bleu. That was at Pontefract in May, when Lusail was three and a quarter lengths behind the Vintage winner off level weights. Berkshire Shadow conceded Angel Bleu 3lb at Goodwood.
A literal line through Angel Bleu gives Berkshire Shadow the edge, but these juveniles are all at different stages of their development and it is hard to know how quickly each is progressing.
Speed figures can sometimes prove enlightening on that front and Raceform's are as good as any. And according to Raceform Interactive, Berkshire Shadow and Lusail are the red herrings in the race because neither can hold a candle to Fearby, who recorded 109 at Goodwood last time.
That is 3lb higher than the class par (106) for a juvenile Group 2 in August, and Fearby bumped into the top-class Armor, who achieved a figure of 115. That makes Armor the highest-rated juvenile in Britain this year so there was no disgrace in finishing second to him.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Busy few days for Al Shaqab
Lusail bids to kick off a busy few days for his owners Al Shaqab on the right note as the Qatari operation have other high-profile runners over at Deauville on Sunday.
Lusail carries a 3lb penalty for his win in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket last time and the latest runner to attempt that double was Cardsharp, who finished third on the Knavesmire in 2017.
Alison Begley, racing manager to Al Shaqab, said: "It's a busy weekend for us as Lusail runs in the Gimcrack at York and then we have Armor running in the Group 1 Prix Morny and Katara in the Group 2 Prix de Pomone, both at Deauville on Sunday."
Richard Hannon, who is bidding to win this for the second time in three years after Threat obliged in 2019, pulled Lusail out of the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last month.
Begley said: "Lusail didn't run at Goodwood due to the soft ground as the only time he's been beaten was on that sort of surface at Pontefract. He loves quick ground, which he should get on the Knavesmire, and he worked really well with Pat Dobbs on board last week, and Richard Hannon is delighted with him. He goes there with a good chance and seems in good order."
Looking ahead to France on Sunday, Lusail's stablemate Armor steps into Group 1 company for the first time, and Begley added: "The Morny has been the plan for a while with Armor and he bounced out of his win at Goodwood and Richard is very happy with him. Pat Dobbs rides."
Katara, who won a Listed contest at Pontefract last time, steps up in class, but has been working well at home of late. Begley said: "Sir Michael Stoute is pleased with Katara and we expect the good ground over there to suit her. Ryan Moore won on her last time and is in the saddle again."
What they say
Oisin Murphy, rider of Berkshire Shadow
He's coming back in trip after running over seven furlongs at Goodwood and this looks the right spot for him. He has a penalty but is a strong type who will enjoy this better ground.
Ed Walker, trainer of American Star
This has been the target for American Star since he was bought. Although it's a big step up from a novice, his form is pretty good – he was second at Newbury to Bosh, who went close in a valuable sales race at Naas earlier this month. I don't know if he is good enough to win, he'll have to improve a good bit if he is to do that, but I wouldn't rule him out.
Roger Fell, trainer of Eldrickjones
Goodwood last time was a disaster as he didn't handle the track and I expect him to do better on the Knavesmire. He was second to Berkshire Shadow at Royal Ascot and now gets 3lb off him so hopefully he can finish thereabouts.
Adam Ryan, assistant to Kevin Ryan, trainer of Gis A Sub and Spitting Feathers
Gis A Sub ran better than the bare result at Goodwood on a tricky track. He was a bit keen early on and it's probably best to let him bowl along. I think he can take a big step up. He has course-and-distance form and everything should suit him. Spitting Feathers did it nicely last time and learned a lot from it. It's a big jump up in class, but he's a nice horse and he's had experience of York as well which should stand him in good stead.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Orazio
He got caught in behind a few at Newbury last time when they went no gallop, but he's very professional and we've had this race in mind for him for some time.
Reporting by David Milnes
Friday's race previews:
1.50 York: can the Classic generation strike a blow in handicap dominated by older horses?
2.25 York: is Stradivarius as good as he was? Graeme Rodway with the definitive verdict
3.35 York: 'If he loses it's my fault' – Ward bullish Golden Pal can blaze in Nunthorpe
3.35 York: no Battaash now but punters can still look forward to an exciting Nunthorpe (Members' Club)
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