Astro King heads full field of 16 for Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup

Leading fancy Astro King headlines a maximum field of 16 chasing record prize money in the £50,000 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup (2.40pm) this Saturday, May 1.

ASTRO KING
ASTRO KING Picture: Steve Davies/Pool via Getty Images

The form of Astro King's comeback success at Nottingham on April 7 could not be working out better, with the second and third having gone on to victory in class two handicaps at Haydock Park and Newbury.

Astro King  (Richard Kingscote) is aiming to build on Sir Michael Stoute's eye-catching record at Thirsk. The Newmarket trainer has sent out six winners from eight runners at the track over the last five seasons, including subsequent dual G3 scorer Zaaki.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail, said: "We were very pleased with the way Astro King won at Nottingham and I know Sir Michael would not run him here unless he felt he had a good chance.

"It is an easy thing to say about Sir Michael's horses, but Astro King does have the profile of a horse who is going to improve as a four-year-old. 

"He has not had much racing and, judged on his latest performance, looks to be going forward at the right time.

"He will have to improve a good bit more if he is to move out of handicaps but, in time, we think he will."

The weights are headed by Nugget (Richard Hannon/Sean Levey), who was third behind Astro King at Nottingham before landing the Spring Cup at Newbury on April 18, and Lincoln third Hortzadar (David O'Meara/Danny Tudhope). 

Acquitted  (Hugo Palmer/Callum Shepherd) made a promising reappearance in the Spring Mile at Doncaster last month, in which he was beaten a neck by Artistic Rifles. 

Hayadh (Harvey Bastiman/Jason Hart) has an excellent record in the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup. The eight-year-old landed the most recent running in 2019 having gone down by a neck the year before when the race was held at Wetherby. 

William Haggas, who landed the 2018 edition with Original Choice, saddles stable debutant Tom Collins (PJ McDonald). The Dubawi gelding was bought out of David Elsworth's stable for 100,000 guineas after winning at Pontefract in October. 

Local trainer David Barron has strong claims with On A Session  (Connor Beasley), who was a good second in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton on his latest outing in March. 

Course scorer Hartswood  (Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan) and bottom weight Jean Baptiste (George Boughey/Nicola Currie) are other contenders to note. 

The Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup has record prize money in 2021 thanks to the continued support of local sponsor Cliff Stud, which backs all seven races on the card.

Cliff Stud was acquired by Yorkshire businessman Paul Sutherland in 2017. The 220-acre property, situated near the market town of Helmsley, boasts state of the art facilities and accommodation for up to 65 horses.

The going at Thirsk is Good, Good to Firm in places. 

James Sanderson, Manager and Clerk of the Course at Thirsk, said: "We are delighted with the field for the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup. 

"We've had a nice drop of rain today, about 7mm in total, and the ground always rides better when the water comes from the heavens rather than the ring main! 

"We might get a drop more before racing and I'd expect the ground to ride mainly 'Good' come Saturday."


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