Trainer Sir Mark Prescott and his jockey George Duffield are on the warpath with Foreign Affairs at York on Saturday, aiming to repeat their victory of four years ago with Pasternak in the John Smith’s Cup.
Prescott and Duffield, the most enduring partnership in racing, hit the bookies for six with the heavily backed Pasternak and now Foreign Affairs is a strong 9-2 favourite to follow in the hoofprints of his former stable companion.
This is the 42nd running of the John Smith’s Cup, which makes it the oldest sponsored flat-race in the country and, with £135,000 in prize-money, it is among the toughest handicaps of the year.
Foreign Affairs followed up his Salisbury win with a commanding performance at Goodwood. His astute trainer has got him on a roll and an in-form Foreign Affairs will be hard to peg back. Man O’Mystery beat all but Sobriety 12 months ago and heads the weights this time.
Seb Sanders, second jockey behind Duffield at Prescott’s Newmarket stable, is fancying his chances of upsetting his boss on Prince Alex, who represents Amanda Perrett’s Sussex yard.
Prince Alex has not run this season but won first time out last year in the hands of Sandersat Newmarket and followed up with a high class show over the York course and distance at the big Ebor meeting. If anything is to keep Prescott and Duffield out of the winners’ enclosure it could be Prince Alex and Sanders.
John Dunlop’s Head In The Clouds has taken time to lose her maiden tag but she could be something of a good thing in the Beck’s Bier Maiden Fillies Stakes.
At Ascot Geoff Wragg’s Swallow Flight, runner up to Medicean in the Queen Anne Stakes at the royal meeting, is difficult to oppose in the Michael Page International Trophy. Meanwhile Muja Farewell, bred by former champion jockey and TV commentator Willie Carson, returns to the scene of her greatest triumph in the Gala Group Sprint.
Muja Farewell is based in Yorkshire with David Barron and Carson, who owns the filly in partnership with three shooting friends from Cheshire, leaves all the planning to his trainer. Barron found the right race for her last time, prompting a beaming Carson to say: “We just want to win more races with her.”
On Sunday Barry Hills should take the Kildangan Irish Oaks at The Curragh with Relish The Thought who finished third behind Imagine and Flight Of Fancy in the Epsom Oaks. John Dunlop’s Time Away, who had beaten Relish The Thought at York earlier in the year, is another strong contender from England.