Tuesday 25 October 2016

Sky is the limit for Smullen

Pat Smullen wins The Hardwicke Stakes on board Snow Sky at Royal Ascot last month
Pat Smullen wins The Hardwicke Stakes on board Snow Sky at Royal Ascot last month

Fresh from four winners on Darley Irish Oaks weekend at the Curragh, including the big one itself, Pat Smullen has been called upon to renew his partnership with Michael Stoute's Snow Sky in the King George on Saturday and he's hoping to make the best of the opportunity.

Ireland's champion jockey picked up the spare ride in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot as Ryan Moore opted to ride Telescope but it was a memorable spare to get as the Snow Sky ran out a convincing winner in the famous Khalid Abdullah colours and with Moore sidelined for the foreseeable future, Smullen will retain the ride this weekend.


The task ahead is a tough one as John Gosden's Epsom Derby hero Golden Horn is the worthy odds-on favourite but Smullen has faith in his mount, who was supplemented for the race at the cost of £75,000.

"Snow Sky is a horse that stays very well but he also surprised me by the turn of foot he showed in the Hardwicke," admitted the Offaly native. "I watched all of his videos before Royal Ascot and didn't see that turn of foot but he is a horse that has a touch of class. Everything worked out perfectly and I can't wait to ride him again - thankfully Prince Khalid has let me keep the ride."

Meanwhile, trainer Tom Hogan is keen to put a line through Sunday's run of Gordon Lord Byron at the Curragh.

The Group One winner was sent off favourite to win back-to-back races in Ireland for the first time since 2011 when he lined up in the Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes but things didn't look to be happening for the seven-year-old from just beyond halfway and his trainer pinpointed the ground as being the most likely issue.

"He seems fine this morning. For some reason he just couldn't get traction on that ground," Hogan said.

Heavy rain on Saturday evening certainly changed conditions at the Curragh and the race was won by Hugo Palmers impressive three-year-old Home Of The Brave who was in receipt of significant weight from Gordon Lord Byron.

"He ran a good race. It's hard to give 12lb away to a decent horse and he was giving 5lb to a horse rated 111 in third (Sovereign Debt).

"I don't know whether the ground was tacky or what, but he didn't like it and it's just one of those things."

Hogan is now looking at a return to Group One company for Gordon Lord Byron as he eyes a return to Deauville next month before clocking up further air miles later in the year.

"We'll head on to the Prix Maurice de Gheest now and then come back for the Haydock Sprint Cup. After that he'll follow the same path as last year."

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