Jim Goldie is confident the burden of top-weight will not prevent Euchen Glen from putting up a bold bid in the Sky Bet Ebor at York.
A former winner of the John Smith’s Cup on the Knavesmire, the popular veteran returns to the track having enjoyed another tremendous campaign – landing a pair of big-race victories at Sandown with wins in the Brigadier Gerard and Gala Stakes.
The eight-year-old failed to fire in a soft ground Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock a fortnight ago, but while he must carry 10st 2lb and will break from stall one in Saturday’s £500,000 feature, Goldie feels it would be dangerous to leave him out of calculations.
“He’s in grand order,” said the Scottish trainer.
“It’s a mighty task carrying that weight, but Red Rum carried 12st in the Grand National, so big weights can be carried.
“He’s won a John Smith’s Cup, so he obviously acts at York. Some might say being drawn one is a negative, but we’ll be going the shortest road. I would rather be one than 22, anyway.
“We’ve got a good jockey (Paul Mulrennan) who knows him well so it will be interesting.”
Proud Newmarket-based Yorkshireman William Haggas declared four runners in a bid to win the county’s most prestigious handicap for the first time.
Dual course and distance winner Hamish is the trainer’s shortest-priced runner, despite having been off the track since finishing fourth in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer.
The gelding’s involvement depends on significant rainfall, however.
“He needs rain and quite a bit of it, so I don’t know if he’ll get it,” said Haggas.
“We’ll decide about his participation nearer the time, but he’s trained very well.
“He’s a smart horse and we’ve had this in mind for a while, so it would be nice to have a go, but we’ll see.”
Hamish’s stablemate Ilaraab has proven his liking for the York track already, having won there twice to date.
The Ebor represents a step up in trip for the colt, but Haggas is confident that he possesses the stamina necessary to succeed.
“He’s in good shape and he’s ready to go,” the trainer said.
“I think it looks like he’ll get the trip no problem.
“He’s got a lot of weight (9st 11lb), but he’s a good horse and I think he prefers going left-handed, so that will suit him on Saturday.”
Roberto Escobarr is one of two Haggas entrants owned by Hussain Alabbas Lootah, the other being his full-brother Pablo Escobarr.
“Roberto stays well and likes fast ground. He should run well. He’s a very genuine, game horse,” Haggas added.
“Pablo is Pablo. He ran a good race last weekend (third in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes) and enjoys his racing. He’s here hoping for the best.”
Ireland have a handful of chances to take home the huge prize, one of which is Karl Thornton’s dual-purpose gelding Shanroe.
The bay won his place in the field with victory in the Ebor when winning the Race To The Ebor Handicap at the Curragh in June.
Thornton is another trainer praying for rain, saying: “We’ll see what the weather does. His work has been really good and everything seems to be going to plan.
“It’s a case of the more (rain) the better, that will definitely be to his benefit, so hopefully the rain does come now.
“He definitely stays and everything’s gone to plan with him, so we’ll be hoping for a big run.”