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FRIDAY brings a big afternoon for trainer Steph Hollinshead as two of her stable’s leading lights step out at York Racecourse.

Al Simmo and Royal Musketeer, who both won on their respective last starts, will line up in competitive handicaps.

The former, a five-year-old mare, contests the British EBF Supporting Racing With Pride Fillies’ Handicap (3pm), after winning at Ripon on May 15.

As for Royal Musketeer, he will look to build on a fine victory at Newmarket when he runs in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap (4.05pm).

Hollinshead, who trains a string of 24 in Staffordshire, said: “I think both horses go there with a ‘live’ chance. It’s amazing to have a runner, let alone be going there with a squeak. I’m feeling nervous already!”

She has done a superb job masterminding the rise of Al Simmo, who has chalked up five wins since last April and risen from an official rating of 57 to 84. Once again Al Simmo will be partnered by jockey Clifford Lee as she moves up into a Class 2 handicap for the first time.

Hollinshead said: “She’s been a bit of superstar, to be honest. She seems to keep improving and is in a really good place. She is pretty straightforward to train and we know her very well now, so we can cater to her. She’s a stable star – we’re chuffed to bits with her. You become quite fond of them when they do that for you, year-in, year-out.

“She is stepping up in grade and has really climbed up the weights. Clifford rides her really well and knows her very well, so I’m hoping for a good run. I think she’s fine on good (ground). In an ideal world, we could just do with no more rain and a bit of a strong breeze to just dry it out slightly, if I was to be really fussy! I do think she likes it quite quick.”

Hollinshead’s other representative, Royal Musketeer, also has valid claims as the four-year-old bids to build on his win last time out. Upper Longdon-based Hollinshead said: “We gelded him, he had winter in the field and he’s matured mentally. He’s really come forward for being gelded and I think there could be a little bit more in the tank. He’s a lovely big horse and I think he might well improve. I do think he’ll stay a mile at some point, so there might well be a bit more improvement in him in that respect.”

York Racecourse’s support of inclusion and diversity is underlined with the British EBF Supporting Racing With Pride Fillies’ Handicap. One of Al Simmo’s rivals will be Zim Baby, declared to run in the unique rainbow colours allocated to Racing With Pride, a community established to promote LGBT+ participation within the sport.

Zim Baby’s trainer Mick Appleby said: “It’s good that racing is welcoming everybody into the sport, recognising different genders and orientations – welcoming people into racing with open arms.

“Zim Baby is going to be running in the ‘Racing With Pride’ silks. I’d like to think she’ll run a good race. It would be a bonus if she can win. We’ve just freshened her up, so she’s in good order and hopefully she’ll run a decent race.”

York’s latest two-day meeting starts with Friday’s card opening at 2pm with the Constant Security Handicap. Saturday’s racing is also scheduled to get underway at 2pm.