The Lir Jet set to take Nunthorpe chance


‘Sheikh Fahad’s view is you don’t succeed if you don’t try’.

The Lir Jet is set to take on his elders in the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York next month following his narrow defeat in France on Sunday.

An impressive debut performance at Yarmouth prompted leading owners Qatar Racing to secure his services – and Sheikh Fahad’s operation was swiftly rewarded after Michael Bell’s juvenile lunged late to deny American challenger Golden Pal in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Facing just three rivals in the six-furlong Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly, The Lir Jet was a hot favourite in the hands of Oisin Murphy, but suffered a short-head reverse to fellow British raider Ventura Tormenta, trained by Richard Hannon.

Bell said: “He’s back in the yard and seems none the worse for his exertions, thankfully.

“I’ve just been talking to Sheikh Fahad and I think we’re going to drop back to five furlongs for the Nunthorpe – that’s the thinking at the moment.

“Oisin is pretty emphatic that he’s better horse over five furlongs and the form book would suggest that, too.”

Bell is under no illusions about the task facing his juvenile on the Knavesmire, with last year’s winner Battaash, July Cup hero Oxted, the exciting Art Power and his Royal Ascot rival Golden Pal among his potential rivals, as is A’Ali.

The Lir Jet will, however, receive a hefty weight concession from the older runners.

“If the Battaash we know turns up, he’ll be a worthy favourite, but if we don’t go there you’d be running somewhere carrying penalties, or running over six furlongs in the Prix Morny, which would mean more travelling,” Bell added.

“It’s not set in stone, but Sheikh Fahad’s view is you don’t succeed if you don’t try, which is a good attitude to have.”

The Derby-winning trainer feels a combination of factors ultimately led to The Lir Jet suffering his first defeat.

He said: “He was just in front just before and just after the line, so it’s cruel luck, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

“I think he probably did underperform, although we thought he looked great in the parade ring beforehand and we were very happy with him going into the race.

“I know there were only four runners, but if you’re looking for excuses, I do think the draw had an effect. It is difficult out on a wing and if we’d been drawn inside Ventura Tormenta, against the rail, we may have seen a different result.

“Take nothing away from the winner, though – it was obviously a well-executed plan from the Hannons and the Middleham Park team.”

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