sport

Gabrial set for Ebor test

Richard Fahey's Gabrial is set for a drastic step up in trip in the Betfred Ebor at York next week.

Fahey could be double-handed with Angel Gabrial, prominent in the betting, and Gabrial entered.

For Gabrial - owned by Dr Marwan Koukash - running in the Betfred Ebor would represent a significant step up in distance to an extended 14 furlongs, having never gone beyond a mile and a quarter before.

Fahey said: \"It is a big step up in trip. Marwan is quite keen to have a go. His pedigree suggests he might stay. We'll see what happens.\"

Koukash also owns Angel Gabrial who won the John Smith's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle in June before being beaten at Glorious Goodwood - a performance Fahey is inclined to forgive.

He said: \"I just thought the Goodwood race was a little bit messy, a little bit inconclusive.\"

\"Angel Gabrial will also get an entry in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup (a Group 2 staged over two miles on Friday 22 August), so we will have a look at both races and make a decision closer to the time. He will be definitely be at York and is in good order.\"

Ask Fahey which of his horses he is viewing with most optimism next week and his reply is: \"I'm quite lucky - there's quite a few I'm looking forward to.\"

The one he singles out, though, is Gabrial's Kaka, who will contest the 80,000 Clipper Logistics Stakes, staged over a mile next Thursday, it is also a qualifying race for the Balmoral Handicap on British Champions Day.

Fahey said: \"He just wants decent ground but is a horse we like.\"

During the last decade or so, he has won countless big races on the Knavesmire, just 20 miles down the road from his Musley Bank base near Malton.

Indeed, Fahey had all but made York's annual 'Leading Trainer' award his own, winning it on seven successive occasions before David O'Meara shaded him to the title last season.

Fahey relishes a winner at his 'local' track and next week will have plenty of prospects for the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival, which gets underway on Wednesday 20 August. The four-day event is a hugely important one for Fahey, as he makes clear.

\"It's a big one and always has been - but it's becoming a bigger one,\" said Fahey. \"It's probably nearly as important as Royal Ascot. If it carries on with the progress, it is going to be the most important meeting of the year.\"

\"The racing is fantastic and the prize money - I don't know how much it has gone up in the last few years, but it has definitely gone up in the last three years... drastically. It's incredible and hats off to everybody involved.\"

The statistics support Fahey's enthusiasm; this year total prize money for the four days will exceed 3.5 million, the third year of investment, this time to the tune of 250,000 year on year.

For racegoers, the Festival is a hugely enjoyable experience with fashion, good food and friendship to the fore. For trainers, though, it is success on the track - or otherwise - that will dictate how pleasurable the four days are.

Fahey said: \"If you get some winners, it's enjoyable, if you don't, it depresses you! It's the sort of effect it has on you.\"

To hear more of Richard's t houghts 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.