Mark Johnston holds strong hand for Matchbook Yorkshire Cup
12 May 2021
Small but select line-up for the Group 2 Long Distance contest on the Knavesmire
Five horses will compete for the 2021 Matchbook Yorkshire Cup on Friday. It’s a competitive-looking field for the Group 2 race at York’s Dante meeting.
Trainer Mark Johnston believes that he has his former St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley in the best form of his career. He bids for a third win of the season in Friday’s Matchbook Yorkshire Cup – the first race in the Long Distance category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.
However, a prolonged Cup campaign is now unlikely for the five-year-old, whose successful return to action after missing 2020 through injury has been hugely satisfying.
Johnston believes Sir Ron Priestley is well equipped for a middle-distance campaign after Friday’s race. The Johnston stable is particularly well endowed with stayers this year. Nayef Road, who also features in Friday’s field of five, and Subjectivist also entered for the Gold Cup, are both horses to look forward to.
Sir Ron Priestley’s all-the-way win in the Group 2 Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket satisfied Johnston that he is fully effective at around a mile and a half. Johnston followed a similar course with his 2002 Yorkshire Cup winner Zindabad. He was rewarded with a win in Royal Ascot’s Hardwicke Stakes and third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
He said: “We are very strong in the staying department and we did think that Sir Ron Priestley, Nayef Road and Subjectivist might all meet in the Gold Cup, but that’s now looking very unlikely, as Sir Ron Priestley probably won’t go that far.
“As a three-year-old he was always working like a distance horse, and his last run was in the St Leger, but it’s great to see him demonstrating so much speed now that he is back and his next runs after the Yorkshire Cup are quite likely to be at a mile and a half, with the Hardwicke Stakes a probable next target.”
Nayef Road, Santiago, Sir Ron Priestley, Spanish Mission, Wells Farhh Go