Karl Thornton is relishing the prospect of Sky Bet Ebor success as he prepares Shanroe to take on the richest Flat handicap in Britain.
The seven-year-old booked his place in the race with victory at the Curragh in early June, one of four contests that earn the winner an Ebor spot.
This season is the first that one such race has been staged in Ireland, with the other three qualifiers, the Melrose Stakes, the Jorvik Stakes and the Grand Cup, all hosted on the same Knavesmire turf as the Ebor itself.
Shanroe, a dual-purpose performer who has winning form over hurdles, will travel from Thornton’s stable in Skerries, County Dublin for the one-mile-six-furlong feature, and his trainer is expecting him to show further improvement on the level.
“I still think there’s more to come from him on the Flat,” he said.
“I don’t think he was at his best going to the Curragh when he won the last day, so we’ve given him a nice little break, freshened him up and the plan is to head over to York with him now.
“I won’t say he’s the finished article on the Flat, he’s still learning the trade, even though he is seven he hasn’t had much mileage on the clock.”
Shanroe’s success on the Curragh came on good to yielding ground, but many of his hurdling performances have been on even softer going and the trainer would welcome rain in Yorkshire to make the Ebor a true staying test.
“He definitely stays well as he showed at the Curragh,” Thornton said.
“If we did get a bit of a rain the week of York, it would be a help to him. He is very genuine, very tough as well.
“He’s strengthened up a good bit since he ran in the Curragh. So, yes, just get him there fresh and well. He’s a clear-winded horse, so two more bits of works to leave him spot on.”
The prospect of Ebor glory is enough to entice jockey Robbie Colgan, who is not a fan of flying, to make the journey across to England for the race.
“Robbie’s a big help to him,” Thornton said.
“He doesn’t like flying too far, but he said he’d go over and ride him! Robbie seems to know him inside out. He’s definitely a big plus for us.”
Neither horse nor jockey are making the trip to York merely to make up the minor places and Thornton is assured that his runner goes with a live chance in the contest.
“I wouldn’t bring him if I thought he wasn’t good enough,” he said.
“You’d want a Group horse and I think he could be a Group horse. So you’d want to be that type of horse going. I wouldn’t want to travel him if I thought he wasn’t going to be competitive.
“I know the prize-money is good, but there’s no point going over there to make up numbers.”