|Safe Voyage is looking to roll back the years in the Vickers.Bet Thirsk Hunt Cup (3.40pm), the highlight of the Thirsk Hunt Cup Coronation Celebration Raceday on Saturday, May 6.
John Quinn’s dual G2 winner heads the weights for Thirsk’s most prestigious race alongside Cruyff Turn and Symbolize, with the trio aiming to be the first top-weight to win the mile handicap since Farhh outclassed his opposition in 2012.
As well as annexing G2 prizes at York and Leopardstown in 2020, Safe Voyage acquitted himself admirably at the top level with third-place finishes in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and 2020 Prix de la Foret.
The 10-year-old went close in two valuable handicaps last autumn, going down narrowly on Irish Champions Weekend before a fourth in the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day, and finished in midfield on his comeback in the Lincoln at Doncaster.
Quinn said: “We are very happy with Safe Voyage. He ran OK in the Lincoln but he normally needs his first run back.
“Judged on his runs at Leopardstown and Ascot last year, you would like to think that he still has a nice race in him. He was badly drawn at Leopardstown, which probably did for him as he was only beaten half a length, and then he ran a great race at Ascot.
“If you look through his form, he seems to be better going around a bend, so the track at Thirsk should suit. I think he has a chance.”
Pisanello, one of three contenders for David O’Meara, is the 7/1 favourite with Vickers.Bet as he looks to go two places better than last year. O’Meara also runs Autumn Festival, who has won five of his last six starts, and Tuscan.
Michael Dods landed the spoils with Finn Class in 2016 and the County Durham trainer has a leading contender in Northern Express, who had no luck in running when fifth at Musselburgh last month.
Tim Easterby has sent out more winners at Thirsk than any other trainer over the last five seasons. The Great Habton handler saddles Cruyff Turn and bottom-weight Devilwala.
Grant Tuer is also doubly represented with last-time-out winner Skilled Warrior and The Turpinator, who shaped well on his debut for the stable in December.
The Micky Hammond-trained Carnival Zain had Billyb back in second when taking the Anderson Barrowcliff Chartered Accountants Handicap at Thirsk in August, with Ann Duffield’s runner boosting the form with victory at Southwell in October.
Eilean Dubh, a dual winner at York last season for Karl Burke, Charlie Johnston’s Austrian Theory and Kevin Ryan’s Dark Moon Rising complete the 15 runners.
Vickers.Bet sponsors the entire seven-race card, with the action getting underway at 1.30pm.
Vickers.Bet Thirsk Hunt Cup – Vickers.Bet prices:
15/2 Northern Express
8/1 Skilled Warrior
9/1 Safe Voyage, The Turpinator
10/1 Billyb, Carnival Zain
11/1 Cruyff Turn
14/1 Austrian Theory, Autumn Festival, Eilean Dubh
22/1 Dark Moon Rising
EW 1/5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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