North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan is hoping for some cut in the ground to enhance the chances of his two representatives, Flaming Spear and Big Time, in Saturday’s £120,000 bet365 Bunbury Cup, the feature handicap of the three-day Moët and Chandon July Festival which commences at Newmarket’ s Adnams July Course tomorrow (Thursday).
A total of 16.5 millimetres of rain fell on the course on Tuesday night, changing the going to ‘good’.
Ryan deserves a change of luck as his season has been blighted by a case of equine herpes at his Hambleton yard which, although swiftly dealt with, meant that he was not allowed to have any runners during a three and a half week quarantine period covering most of the month of June.
Victory in this prestigious seven furlong event would undoubtedly boost the morale of his staff and the most likely horse to provide that is Flaming Spear, who has not been seen on a racecourse for six months, since he produced a startling turn of foot to snatch a valuable handicap staged on Newcastle’s all-weather tapeta surface.
Big Time is a second string to Ryan’s bet365 Bunbury Cup bow and has shown good form since joining the trainer a year ago, finishing placed in handicap company on three of his five subsequent starts.
Other leading contenders are Tashweeq and Tabarrak, third and fifth in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot; Steady Pace, runner-up in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot; and the Gary Moore-trained Gossiping, already the winner of no less than five handicaps since the turn of the year.
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Flaming Spear and Big Time, said:
“Robert Winston is set to ride Flaming Spear in the bet365 Bunbury Cup while Martin Harley may be aboard Big Time. But Flaming Spear’s participation is ground dependent, we need rain for him and I’d like to see the ground riding ‘good’ or softer.”
“Big Time would also be ideally suited by good ground and he has an alternative engagement in Ireland on Saturday. We will leave it until the last minute before deciding which way to go with him.”
“Flaming Spear hasn’t run for a while but he’s run well before on his return from a break, so I have no fitness concerns. It is always a bit of a doubt if they will handle the downhill run into the dip at the July Course but he’s run well on the Rowley Mile in the past.”
“It’s going to be a really tough race, just like you would expect it to be.”
Pat Cooney, Racing Public Relations Officer for bet365, said:
“It’s always a very competitive race and this year’s renewal may well be the most wide open of all. Flaming Spear and Tashweeq currently head our betting as 9/1 co favourites, but many horses are being backed at present in a vibrant market.”
“The booking of Ryan Moore by John Gosden on Tashweeq is likely to see him go off as clear favourite on the day, but with a maximum field expected of 20, we’ll be offering plenty of good value prices on them all.”
The sponsor’s ante post market for the bet365 Bunbury Cup, run over seven furlongs of Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Saturday, 15th July, is as follows:
9 Tashweeq, Flaming Spear;
10 Steady Pace;
12 Tabarrak, Parfait;
16 Mutawathea; Abe Lincoln, Gossiping;
20 Fawaareq, Buckstay, Bossy Guest, Donncha, Heaven’s Guest;
25 Above The Rest, Big Time, Shaiyem;
25 Tashweeq, Tabarrak, Aeolus, Donncha, Rusumaat, Heaven's Guest, Shaiyem, Parfait;
33 Donjuan Triumphant, Tony Curtis, Early Morning, Sutter County, Sir Dancealot, Kadrizzi, Raising Sand, Suzi's Connoisseur, Gunmetal, Robero, Makzeem;
40 Withernsea, Gin In The Inn;