O'Meara targets York riches
David O’Meara ended Richard Fahey’s seven time run as York’s annual leading trainer award in 2013 and at next week’s Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival he will be aiming to stretch his lead in this year’s race.
O’Meara has already notched eight winners on the Knavesmire in 2014 – four more than the fellow Yorkshire-based yard of Fahey.
Last year, he managed to strike on three occasions at the showcase meeting, which starts on Wednesday 20 August. If O’Meara can replicate that fine feat this time, he will be well on the way to a second successive trainers’ crown at York.
O’Meara, who trains just outside Nawton, said: “Obviously this is a meeting we target. We had three winners there last year and I think we’ve got a strong team this time. Plenty go there with good chances.”
O’Meara is looking forward to saddling G Force in the £265,000 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, a Group 1 event run over five furlongs on Friday 22 August.
Owned by Middleham Park Racing, G Force won in handicap company over course and distance at the Dante Festival and has since run well in the higher echelons, not least when fifth in the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Commenting on a Listed race run back at York on John Smith’s Day, O’Meara said of the three-year-old: “We felt G Force was unlucky behind Take Cover in the City Walls Stakes. He was struck over the head by a whip and it probably cost him.”
“He then finished behind Take Cover at Goodwood but he’ll head to the Nunthorpe. He won well at York in the spring and seems in good form. Any ease in the ground would suit.”
Talented stayer, Repeater, is in line for a crack at Saturday’s £265,000 Betfred Ebor. The five-year-old has not won since September 2011 but he has run some terrific races in some of the country’s most competitive contests.
O’Meara added: “Repeater ran well in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate and when second in a Listed race at Sandown in July.”
“He didn’t handle the track at all at Goodwood last time so I think we can put a line though that. A race like the Ebor suits him- he needs to be held up and weave his way through runners.”
Penitent has been a star for O’Meara and he showed he still retains all his ability when beating subsequent Group 1 winner Garswood in the Group 3 Jury Stakes at Haydock in May.
He has failed to fire on his three most recent starts but O’Meara has given him a short break to freshen him up for the York Festival.
He confirmed: “Penitent seems in great form. We shall enter him in the City Of York Stakes over seven furlongs and the Strensall Stakes over nine.”
“He has become a little inconsistent nowadays but has won a Group 3 already this season. Rain would help his chances.”
Custom Cut has secured back-to-back Listed successes in recent weeks and the five-year-old will receive the same two entries as his stable-mate Penitent. Both races have seen their prize money boosted with the shorter contest now offering £100,000 whilst the Group 3 Betfred Strensall has an £80,000 prize pot.
O’Meara said: “Custom Cut is due to head to Ireland for the Desmond Stakes on Thursday and if he comes out of that well, he could head to York.”
Dutch Rose has won no less than four times at York including the last two runnings of the eventmasters.co.uk EBF Stallions Fillies’ Handicap. The five-year-old will bid to bring up the hat-trick in that particular race, which carries an enhanced prize fund of £40,000.”
“Dutch Rose will go for the seven furlong fillies’ handicap on the Thursday. She has won it the last two years and has a great record at the track. She is now on a mark of 100 so she will have to be at her best to win it again,” O’Meara said.
Chancery is another regular on the Knavesmire and he too was victorious at last year’s Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival when taking the Sky Bet Stakes, a handicap for three-year-olds and upwards over a mile and a half.
His trainer said: “Chancery will go for the same handicap that he won last year. The track suits him and he should still be competitive off his mark. He is only 3lb higher than when he won last year.”
Move In Time showed his wellbeing when narrowly touched off in the Shergar Cup Dash on Saturday. Although he holds an entry in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, the Symphony Group Stakes, a handicap over the unusual trip of five and a half furlongs, is his preferred target.
O’Meara added: “He’s a solid sprinter. He ran well on Saturday and was only just touched off in a Group 3 in France last year. He is coming back to himself now and goes there with a chance.”
O’Meara is likely to be well represented in the handicaps throughout the week. Old favourites such as Two For Two, Balducci, Ingleby Angel and Hit The Jackpot are likely to be in action in addition to Fattsota, Awake My Soul and Eccleston.
To hear more of David's thoughts about the week, racegoers can book a seat at the inaugural Ebor Festival Preview Evening, to be held at the track on Tuesday evening, 19 August; both David O’Meara and Richard Fahey are scheduled to be on the panel. Advance booked tickets are priced at £10 to include a £10 free bet from Sky Bet as well as a buffet supper.