Longines Irish Champions Weekend’s newest Group 1 the Flying Five Stakes offers a chance this Sunday for one to be crowned Ireland’s fastest sprinter. But a British-bred raider heads the market, so is the prize for export?
Trained by Karl Burke, Havana Grey has led the Flying Five Stakes betting with most online bookmakers since not long after winning at the Curragh over the Group 1’s distance of 5f. He’s priced at no bigger than 5/2 with Black Type and Burke has booked Richard Kingscote to ride him for the first time.
He said: “Richie Kingscote rides him, and he is in great shape and he is adaptable ground-wise. He has won at the Curragh this year and he is a very fast horse and I’m really looking forward to running him.”
The Flying Five Stakes is Ireland’s first Group 1 sprint for older horses. It was promoted to Group 1 status at the beginning of this year and features among four top-level events on the second day of Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh.
The €350,000 race is among only four Group 1 sprints over five furlongs in Europe, and is part of the Breeders Cup Win And You’re In Challenge Series, offering the winner a guaranteed start in the Turf Sprint this November.
Havana Grey went into notebooks after his fine effort in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last time out. The three-year-old was only beaten three lengths when fifth behind 40/1 shot Alpha Delphini, despite racing on his own on the far side of the track.
Havana Grey won the Sapphire Stakes over the Flying Five course and distance in July, and his York run was a very encouraging bounce-back from a below-par performance at Goodwood.
However, odds of 5/2 appear to be a little bit conservative, considering that the grey has finished out of the frame on four of his five starts this season, so it may pay to look elsewhere for the value.
One big-price runner with a live each-way shout is the Elite Racing Club-owned Judicial, who took his first Group win at Sandown back in July.
Excuses were found for his lacklustre performance at York, where he was beaten nearly eight lengths in the Nunthorpe Stakes, but he has now been given a totally clean bill of health by trainer Julie Camacho.
The six-year-old won the Group 3 Coral Charge on his penultimate start, and before that had Line Of Reason, Take Cover, and El Astronaute all behind him in a Beverley conditions race - again over 5f.
Any return to that kind of form could see him go close and Ladbrokes's 12/1 about Judicial winning the Flying Five Stakes appears very tempting.
Nobody would begrudge the evergreen veteran sprinter Take Cover a swansong victory in the Flying Five Stakes, and what a stage it would be to bow out on.
The spritely 11-year-old brought the house down recently with back-to-back successes in the Beverley Bullet and the plan had been to retire him after running in the Group 3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy at Newbury on September 22, a race he won last year.
However, because the Flying Five has been upgraded to the top level from Group 2 status, trainer David Griffiths and his Norcroft Park Stud owners have been swayed, factoring in also that the horse has run well at the Curragh before.
Take Cover has amassed nearly £740,000 in win and place prize-money in his star-studded career, and could well be the most popular winner in the field should he romp home at a best price of 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Aidan O’Brien’s son of Scat Daddy was an eye-catcher in the July Cup, but then disappointed behind Battaash at Goodwood, then ran a little flat in the Nunthorpe last time. He won the Keeneland Stakes at the Curragh as a two-year-old though, and if he can recapture some of his old zest on Sunday he could quite easily be in the mix.
However, Darren Bunyan’s globetrotting stable star Hit The Bid (nb) could come home first of the Irish. He is expected to come on heaps for a promising second place at Tipperary last time - a first run on home soil since October.
The Dubai Carnival winner had a fruitful time in Meydan last spring and appears to be thriving for the experience. The four-year-old is a solid 6/1 to win in William Hill’s Flying Five Stakes betting and will have plenty of home support from punters.