Yorkshire Jockeys Horse Racing

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TRAINER Karl Thornton is hoping his intended first-ever runner at York will be a winning one with Shanroe on course to line up in the Sky Bet Ebor on Saturday, 21 August.

The seven-year-old gelding earned his spot in the historic £500,000 heritage handicap when he landed the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Handicap at the Curragh on 2 June. Shanroe struck decisively enough with a sustained challenge that led to him scoring by three parts of a length.

The initiative sees four contests, all backed by Sky Bet, offer the winner a guaranteed stall in Europe’s richest flat handicap; this June was the first time that an Irish leg had been added to join the Melrose, Jorvik and Grand Cup which are  all staged at York.

It was the dual-purpose performer’s fourth run in a busy two-and-a-half-month period, which also included a novice handicap hurdle triumph at Fairyhouse.

Shanroe was duly given a break by Thornton, who has brought back his charge for a tilt at the famous Knavesmire prize for which he is a 16/1 chance with the sponsors Sky Bet.

Thornton, who trains up to 20 horses at his Skerries stable, north east of Dublin, said: “Definitely, I still think there’s more to come from him on the Flat.

“I don’t think he was at his best going to the Curragh when he won the last day. So we’ve given him a nice little break, freshened him up and the plan is to head over to York with him now.

“I won’t say he’s the finished article on the Flat. He’s still learning the trade.  Even though he is seven, he hasn’t had much mileage on the clock.

“He definitely stays well as he showed at the Curragh. If we did get a bit of a rain the week of York, it would be a help to him. He is very genuine, very tough as well.

“He’ll have two more pieces of work. A hard piece next week and he’ll have one piece just to finish him off the week after. I use the Curragh a good bit – that’s where I usually finish them off.

“He’s strengthened up a good bit since he ran in the Curragh. So, yes, just get him there fresh and well. He’s a clear-winded horse, so two more bits of works to leave him spot on.”

If Shanroe – rated 101 on the Flat – continues to show Thornton the right signs, then connections will be making the trip to Yorkshire. With a chuckle, Thornton revealed that the horse’s jockey, Robbie Colgan, isn’t overly keen on long-distance travel, but definitely plans to maintain his association with Shanroe in the Sky Bet Ebor.

Thornton said: “Robbie’s a big help to him. He doesn’t like flying too far but he said he’d go over and ride him! Robbie seems to know him inside out. He’s definitely a big plus for us.”

And, granted smooth sailing in the lead-up, Thornton is expecting his maiden runner at York to give a bold account of himself.

He assessed: “I wouldn’t bring him if I thought he wasn’t good enough. You’d want a Group horse and I think he could be a Group horse. So you’d want to be that type of horse going. I wouldn’t want to travel him if I thought he wasn’t going to be competitive. I know the prize money is good but there’s no point going over there to make up numbers.”

The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday, 18 August until Saturday 21 August inclusively.

For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk