Hype closing in on York run
Connections of leading fancy Media Hype are delighted, as well as surprised, that the four-year-old is close to being guaranteed a run in the John Smith's Cup at York on Saturday.
The Elaine Burke-trained course-and-distance winner - a general 12-1 chance - needs just three to come out above him in the handicap at Thursday's final declaration stage to get in the prestigious contest.
Hopes of a place looked to have been dashed when Media Hype failed to win at Newmarket on unsuitable ground last time, as a penalty for success there would have ensured a ticket to York.
The trainer's husband and assistant, Karl, told At The Races: "I didn't think we'd get as close. We need three to drop out. Whether we get that I don't know at this stage. I suppose the more rain that falls the more likely that a few will drop out.
"We think he's still well handicapped, although he got beat at Newmarket on ground that was much too firm. We really should have pulled him out that day, but we were looking to get a penalty to make sure we got in the John Smith's - in hindsight we shouldn't have run him on that ground.
"He's in great form and we're looking forward to running him. If he doesn't run there, he'll probably run at York on Friday."
Area Fifty One won the Newmarket race and acquired a 5lb penalty which puts his place in no doubt. "He's in great form. He won well the last day and we were delighted with him," said Robin O'Ryan, assistant to trainer Richard Fahey.
Deirdre Johnston, wife and assistant to trainer Mark, hopes Licence To Till gets a favourable draw. She said: "It's a very competitive race and we need a good draw, but if he runs like he's been running so far this season he'd have a great chance. He's battle-hardened and he's a real trooper for us."
Jockey Barry McHugh is looking forward to trying the Brian Ellison-trained Memory Cloth back over a longer trip after two recent efforts in three days over shorter at Newcastle recently.
He said: "He ran in two races at Newcastle over a mile and over seven, but Brian has had this race panned out for him some while back. I think he's going to take his chance on Saturday and we'll see how he gets on."