sport

Dan's the man for Appleby

Mick Appleby has issued a bullish assessment of Danzeno's chances in the Betbright Charity Sprint at York on Saturday.

The three-year-old failed to make an impact on his juvenile debut at Newbury last September, but signed off for the year with an impressive display at Redcar and bolted up on his seasonal return and handicap bow at Newmarket in April.

The Newark-based handler has a growing reputation within the sport and is in no doubt where Danzeno ranks in the list of horses he has trained during his relatively short career.

Appleby said: "I think he's a very good horse. He's certainly the best horse I've had and if he's as good as I think he is, he'll win on Saturday.

"He's in great form, he's got an all right draw (stall nine) and with the ground drying out, he must go there with a very good chance.

"I think, and hope, he's a Group horse."

Danzeno is the clear favourite for the 20-runner contest, with a total prize fund of 100,000 up for grabs.

Last year's leading York trainer David O'Meara is double-handed, with the consistent Eccleston joined by hat-trick-seeking stablemate Rural Celebration.

The latter struck at Catterick and Ripon and Cosmo Charlton, racing manager for owners Hambleton Racing, is hopeful of a bold show.

He said: "She's done really well for us so far this year and David has always held her in high regard.

"He said she'd progress through the winter and she has really strengthened up.

"She won doing handstands at Catterick and although it was hard work at Ripon last time, the ground was very testing and I think she won in spite of a few things that day.

"The ground should be fine for her on Saturday, she proved she stays six furlongs at Ripon and we think she's still ahead of the handicapper."

Naadirr has run well in defeat in valuable events at Newmarket and Newbury this year, but must concede weight to all but one of his rivals.

Trainer Marco Botti said: "Naadirr is a well-bred horse who broke his maiden last year at Kempton and has turned into a very nice sprinter.

"He ran a good race in the sales race (at Newmarket) and was then beaten a head in a Listed race at Newbury, so he is progressing.

"We are hopeful and he has been working well, but it could be a tough task with that weight."

The Olly Stevens-trained Gamesome was unable to make his presence felt on his Newmarket reappearance and connections are hoping a drop in trip will help him bounce back to form.

Stevens said: "He's a horse we've always thought a lot of.

"We thought, and hoped, he could develop into a top-class miler, but he has just struggled to settle early on in his races.

"He has run badly twice over seven furlongs, so we're coming back to six.

"He was very impressive on his only run over six furlongs at Nottingham last year, beating Speedfiend, who went on to be placed in the Middle Park.

"There should be plenty of pace on at York and he should be able to settle and get a lead.

"If he runs well, hopefully he'll turn out again for the Wokingham at Royal Ascot next Saturday.

"He's a horse with tons of ability."

James Tate has always liked Invincible Strike and the Newmarket trainer is looking forward to seeing his colt make his belated return.

Tate said: "He had a small setback in March, which is why he hasn't been out yet this year, but he has been working well recently and seems in good form.

"It's a big pot, so I'm sure everyone will be there doing their best.

"Some horses in the race have e arned their handicap marks this year and some earned them last year.

"Our horse seems to be working as well as his rating (99), so hopefully he can do that on the track."

Local trainer Richard Fahey saddles Supplicant, who shoulders top weight, Eastern Impact and Rufford.

Other leading contenders include Henry Candy's Charles Molson and Betimes from John Gosden's yard.