What the trainers are saying ahead of the Great St Wilfrid
Last Updated: 15/08/14 4:45pm
Adrian Nicholls: Kimberella the right type for Great St Wilfrid test
View from connections ahead of Saturday's William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon.
Big-race jockey Adrian Nicholls believes Kimberella is the "ideal horse" for the fiercely competitive William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on Saturday.
Trainer David Nicholls has saddled two previous winners of Ripon's flagship event in Ice Planet (2005) and Tajneed (2008), and the 'sprint king' teams up with his son again as Kimberella aims to clinch top honours in the £70,000 contest.
Previously trained by Michael Bell before a spell with Michael Attwater, the four-year-old - who has been popular in the ante-post market in recent days - joined Thirsk-based Nicholls at the start of this season and it did not take long for him to make an impact as he bolted up over this course and distance in April.
He has since struck gold again with an impressive display at Chester and was last seen finishing seventh behind exciting sprinter Muthmir in York's Skybet Dash.
"He's got winning form over the course and distance and when he won at Ripon I said then he was the ideal horse for a race like the Great St Wilfrid," said Nicholls jnr.
"He's done pretty well since then. I was delighted with him at Chester a couple of starts back and he ran well at York last time in what was a very competitive race.
"There doesn't appear to be an unexposed horse like Muthmir in the race on Saturday. Maybe I'll be proved wrong, but it looks like the same horses that beat each other every week.
"It doesn't look like we're going to get extremes of ground, which is good, and I'm happy enough with the draw (stall 18). As long as I wasn't drawn in the middle I wasn't too worried, to be honest. You just want to be on one of the wings.
"It's a very open renewal and if my horse can reproduce his Chester run, hopefully he'd have a good chance."
Trainer Michael Wigham is similarly confident about the chances of Fairway To Heaven, who displayed potent acceleration to find the bullseye at Windsor at the end of June.
"He was very impressive at Windsor on good to soft and we feel we're going there with a big chance," Wigham told At The Races.
"The way he picked up and put the race to bed (at Windsor) was quite impressive. He's a horse that is suited by plenty of pace and when he's getting his toe in a bit he can be seen at his best. At Ascot and Doncaster it just didn't happen.
"He's won at Thirsk, which is a similar track to Ripon. We've built him into a bigger, stronger horse. He could be the one to beat in the race."
David O'Meara trained admirable mare Pepper Lane to win successive renewals of the Great St Wilfrid in 2011 and 2012 and this year fires a twin assault with the visored Out Do joined by stable companion Bondesire.
"Pepper Lane was a wonderful filly who excelled at Ripon and won it twice - whether we have another Pepper Lane I don't know," said O'Meara.
"Bondesire loves Ripon, she's either won or been placed there just about every time she's been. She ran really well at Ascot last weekend, she missed the break but flew home to finish fourth.She ideally likes a bit of cut in the ground.
"Out Do prefers better ground but he's been in good form. If the ground is good or better he'd go there with a great chance. The draw is always an issue but Pepper Lane won from both sides so it can be done."
Michael Dods-trained mare Spinatrix has a formidable record at the Garden Racecourse, winning three times and finishing either second or third on her other six visits.
She was beaten just a neck by Baccarat in last year's renewal, but has not been seen in competitive action since May and Dods admits her lack of match fitness is a concern.
Dods said: "She seems in good form, but the biggest problem is we've not been able to get a run into her for a while because of the ground.
"She likes softer ground and because there's been no rain we haven't been able to get her out, which is a shame, as a run would have just brought her on. She's as well as we can get her at home without a run, so we just have to hope for the best. Hopefully the ground doesn't dry out too much."
Barkston Ash is another horse with good form at Ripon, winning twice, and trainer Eric Alston is confident he can make his presence felt again if there is plenty of juice in the ground.
Alston said: "He should have a good chance and the more rain they get the better, I suppose.
"He's been running well all year apart from his last run at Hamilton when the ground was too firm and he was sick afterwards.
"He seems in good form now. I don't know why he likes Ripon, but he seems to, which has to be a plus.
"Hopefully he'll run a big race."
Kevin Ryan's veteran sprinter Captain Ramius has not visited the winner's enclosure since October 2012, but Ryan feels it would be dangerous to dismiss him.
He said: "We haven't been able to take up any of his entries over the last few weeks because of the ground. He's very ground dependent, he needs soft ground, and hopefully we'll get that.
"He's run well in the Great St Wilfrid in the past, so he handles Ripon well. I'm looking forward to running him. He hasn't got much mileage. He's not a horse that's been over-raced so I think that's why he's retained his ability."
Last year's winning trainer Richard Fahey is represented by Tatlisu, Flyman, Supplicant and Majestic Moon.
Other leading contenders include the Richard Whitaker-trained Pipers Note, Paul Midgley's Another Wise Kid and David Barron's pair Colonel Mak and Hitchens.