Connections of Ingra Tor will seek to use Saturday’s Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York as a stepping stone to some big summer pots, with the Stewards’ Cup a mid-term target.
The Mick Channon-trained Ingra Tor is drawn 11 of 19 for the competitive six-furlong contest and stamped himself a sprinter of promise when taking a 13-runner handicap at Newmarket last time, beating subsequent winner Harry Three – who reopposes – by two and a quarter lengths.
Channon’s son and assistant, Jack, feels the son of Churchill has a bright future and will have few excuses.
“He has only had four runs and is improving all the time,” said Channon.
“His form is working out very well. Everything he is beating or has beaten him is boosting the form and everything suits, the ground, the draw – we are bang in the middle of them – and the trip. Everything is right.
“He seems in great form and we think he is very high class and we hope he’ll put up a good show.
“Hopefully they will come up the middle. We haven’t seen how good this horse could be with a bit of cover yet. I’m looking forward to something being good enough to give him a nice tow and see his turn of foot.
“If he goes up (in the handicap), I’ve always thought the Stewards’ Cup would be a great target, as three-year-olds have a great record in that race – and if he were to win and go up enough, that would probably be his next target.”
NFL fans will keep a watchful eye on Showtime Mahomes, named by owners The Muffed Punt Partnership after the brilliant Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Grant Tuer’s runner beat Devaste over course and distance last time, with the Terry Kent-trainee subsequently franking the form at Leicester. The pair lock horns again and are drawn 17 and 16 respectively.
Tuer said: “The owners are a syndicate of local lads from Darlington and he is their first horse. Obviously they are all NFL fans. They have a two-year-old running at Carlisle on Monday called Run Cmc, who is named after Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers running back).
“Showtime Mahomes was an eight-grand yearling and he is flying the flag really well.
“The form of his York win looks rock solid. He was drawn one the last day, so probably down the middle would be best, but stands’ side might be better than far side.
“The course, trip, everything is fine. He is really well and the ground is fine. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he really tries.
“He hit the front too early the last day, and poked his nose out and battled all the way to the line. I would be surprised if he didn’t do the same. Whether that will be good enough, who knows?
“He will get an entry in the Palace Of Holyrood House Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday, which I know is back down to five (furlongs), but the uphill finish will suit him. We will decide after this whether we turn him around, should we get in.”
The Listed Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes is the other feature event on the seven-race card, where Mandoob bids to go one better than when chasing home Al Aasy over a mile and a half at Ascot.
The lightly-raced four-year-old is having just his sixth start in the one-mile-six-furlong heat and trainer Brian Meehan said: “The trip is good. He is going to relish that and he’s in great form.
“Going up in trip is what he wants. He is potentially a very nice staying horse and I think this race is a lovely one for him.”
John Leeper, who is among Mandoob’s five rivals, is on something of a retrieval mission, according to trainer Ed Dunlop.
The four-year-old, who is named after Ed’s father, the late trainer John Leeper Dunlop, had promised plenty as a three-year-old and was well-supported for the Derby on the back of a Listed Newmarket win.
However, things have not gone according to plan. Including last season’s Derby ninth to Adayar, John Leeper is winless in his last seven outings, and a step up to two miles did not pan out as expected when seventh of eight to Quickthorn in the Henry II at Sandown last month.
Dunlop said: “We are not convinced he stayed at Sandown. It was disappointing the other day.
“We are coming back in trip to see where we are, as we don’t think two miles worked, which was a surprise. All seems well and we will hope for the best.
“He was built up pre-Derby probably because of his name and his pedigree – by Frankel out of a world champion mare (Snow Fairy), so is it a retrieval? Yeah, he needs to pull his socks up and let’s hope he does on Saturday.”