O’Meara triple-handed as maximum field of 16 set to line up in Saturday’s £40,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup

O’Meara triple-handed as maximum field of 16 set to line up in Saturday’s £40,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup
Thirsk’s richest race of the season, the £40,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup, has attracted a maximum field of 16 declared runners for the 4.15pm off-time this Saturday, May 4.
Heading the weights is Waarif (David O’Meara/Conor McGovern (3), 9st 7lb, drawn 1). Owned by a syndicate of Middleham Park Racing, the six-year-old was a four-time winner in 2018 and has shaped with promise in two outings this year at Doncaster and Bath.
O’Meara, who trains near York, is also set to be represented by Firmament (David Nolan, 9st 5lb, drawn 3), who makes his seasonal reappearance, having finished a close third in a competitive handicap at York’s Ebor Festival in August, and Anythingtoday (Cam Hardie, 9st 1lb, drawn 13), who drops down in distance after shaping well first time out this season when fourth over 10 furlongs at Ripon on April 18.
O’Meara said today: “Firmament will start off in the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup.
“He seems in really good form and should be capable of bouncing back this year. We will see how he runs at Thirsk, but we’ll probably then go onto the Hamilton at York before Royal Ascot.
“Waarif is in good form and came out of his last run at Bath fine. He shaped well in the Lincoln on his first start and stayed on at Bath after missing the start.
“The ground was very quick at Bath last time, but I am hopeful there is more improvement to come this term. He won four races last season going up more than 20lb so it was a testament to how tough he was last term.
“The Thirsk Hunt Cup is also his target and the Hambleton at York could also be a race for him after that.
“Anythingtoday shaped well at Ripon on his return and he will come on for that over the shorter trip on Saturday.”
Richard Fahey saddled his 100th winner at Thirsk when subsequent Ascot scorer Ventura Rebel was successful on debut at the opening fixture of the season on April 13. The Malton trainer runs course and distance winner Borodin (Paddy Mathers, 9st 1lb, drawn 15) in the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup. The four-year-old is owned and bred by Sicklinghall-based Sir Robert Ogden and ran very well on his first start of 2019 when third in the competitive Spring Cup Handicap at Newbury on April 13.
This year sees the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup return to its usual home. In 2018, it was staged at Wetherby Racecourse due to the Tour de Yorkshire passing through Thirsk on raceday. Rebecca Bastiman saddled Hayadh (Lewis Edmunds, 8st 12lb, drawn 10) to finish the neck runner-up at Wetherby 12 months ago and the six-year-old attempts to go one better this year. Hayadh comes into this year’s race in good form following two placed efforts over seven furlongs at Musselburgh.
Catwick-based Les Eyre won the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup in 2017 with Cote D’Azur and this time around relies on Dawaaleeb (Cieren Fallon (7), 9st 2lb, drawn 7), a staying-on fourth in the Spring Mile at Doncaster in March.
Lambourn trainer Clive Cox saddles a rare runner at Thirsk with King’s Slipper (Adam Kirby, 9st 1lb, drawn 8), who was an impressive winner on his reappearance when taking a mile Polytrack handicap at Kempton on April 12.
Newmarket-based handler Charlie Fellowes has a 36 per cent strike rate at Thirsk and runsIntrepidly (Stevie Donohoe, 8st 10lb, drawn 9), who has been in action on the All-Weather over the winter with good placed efforts at Kempton and Chelmsford City.
Tim Easterby is doubly represented with Parys Mountain (David Allan, 8st 12lb. drawn 4), a three-time winner in 2018 and Garrick (Rachel Richardson, 8st 9lb, drawn 11).
Fellow Yorkshire handler Kevin Ryan runs Commander Han (Tom Eaves, 8st 13lb, drawn 16), who was a good third when making his reappearance at Musselburgh last month.
Fennaan (Phillip Makin/Sam James, 8st 13lb, drawn 14) was a promising fifth at Musselburgh on his debut for first-season trainer Phillip Makin, having won twice last season when with champion trainer John Gosden, while there is a Scottish-trained raider in Nicholas T (Jim Goldie/Jamie Gormley (3), 8st 9lb, drawn 6).
Completing the field are Baraweez (Brian Ellison/Ben Robinson (3), drawn 2), twice successful in competitive Chester handicaps last season, King’s Pavilion (Jason Ward/Jimmy Quinn, 8st 13lb, drawn 5) and course winner Raselasad (Tracey Waggott/Royston Ffrench, 8st 12lb, drawn 12).
The Thirsk Hunt Cup began in 1859, with the intention of bringing together the country’s leading hunters, with the very first winner taking home the princely sum of thirty sovereigns. Historic Helmsley-based Cliff Stud, once owned by the late 10-time champion trainer Sir Henry Cecil, signed a three-year sponsorship deal earlier this year with Thirsk Racecourse to back the Thirsk Hunt Cup until at least 2021, with the prize money increasing to £50,000.
Set in 220 acres above Helmsley, Cliff Stud specialises in foaling and, with immaculately maintained paddocks and accommodation, it can accommodate up to 65 horses at any one time. Yorkshire businessman Paul Sutherland acquired the stud in 2017.
There are a total of 83 runners across the seven-race programme at Thirsk on Saturday, which runs from 2.00pm through to 5.25pm.
The main supporting action comes from a trio of £10,000 contests – the Scouting For Girls – Live @thirskraces Friday 16TH August Handicap (2.30pm, 13 runners), the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Maiden (4.50pm, 7 runners) and the concluding Join Racing TV Now Handicap (5.25pm, 13 runners).
The going at Thirsk is currently Good, Good to Firm in places.
Sunny spells and light showers are expected over the next 24 hours, with temperatures turning cooler on Friday. Saturday is forecast to be rather fresh, but dry.
All accompanied children aged under 18 gain free entry to Saturday’s meeting. There is availability for all three enclosures, the Premier Enclosure, the Paddock Enclosure and the Family Enclosure, with booking in advance offered online and tickets available at the entrances. Admission prices start from just £8. Free parking is offered and the racecourse is less than a mile from Thirsk Station, from where a free shuttle-bus operates.
The gates open at 11.00am on Saturday.
All the information needed by new and existing racegoers can be found on the racecourse’s official website - www.thirskracecourse.net - where tickets can be bought, along with many special packages.
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