In-form jockey Shaun Mc Gruddy is upbeat about Red Ora’s prospects for his upcoming winter campaign, as the gelding searches for his first Group 3 win.
Mc Gruddy has elected to stick with Red Ora for Saturday’s Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m), where he will be having his first start since a short let-up following his second place finish in the Listed Grandstand Cup on March 31.
Mc Gruddy had a difficult decision to make prior to the Weight-For-Age feature as to whether he would maintain his association with Red Ora, or the Chris Gangemi-trained Durendal who he rode first-up in the Northam Stakes on May 6.
Red Ora will almost certainly press on to a trio of Group 3 races at Belmont after the Roma Cup in the form of the Belmont Sprint (1400m), Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and possibly the Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Mc Gruddy said Red Ora would be better suited by the longer distance races at Belmont rather than the sprint journey of the $150,000 Roma Cup on Saturday, and that was a key reason why he went with the Steve Wolfe-trained galloper over Durendal.
“Wolfey said he has got him going pretty good,” he said.
“Barrier one probably doesn’t suit because he gets back a bit, but at least he won’t have to do any work early.
“I’d like to see him running on into the placings, earn some money, then I’d be very confident going into the Belmont Sprint.”
Shaun O’Donnell replaces Shaun Mc Gruddy on Durendal, and will start from barrier eight.
O’Donnell, who won the Roma Cup in 2012 and 2015 aboard Luckygray, said the gelding deserved to break through for a maiden win in Western Australia, but conceded it would be a big ask against a high quality field.
“I think you can expect to see what you see from him all the time…honesty and tenacity,” he said.
“It’d be nice to break through for his maiden win here.
“I’ve done a bit of work on him since his first-up run, because Shaun Mc Gruddy is riding Red Ora.
“I can’t be happier with him…he is going well.”
Meanwhile, Mc Gruddy will be hoping Blackfriars two-year-old Black Sabbath can make it two wins from as many starts when he lines up in the Lanciano Plate (1200m).
Black Sabbath won by three lengths on debut at Ascot on May 5, defeating Market Ruler who won at Ascot last Saturday.
Mc Gruddy said it wasn’t the original plan to run the two-year-old on Saturday, but the stable abandoned those plans given how he came through the run.
“All I can go on is his trackwork and he is working as well as his first-up run, so I’m expecting a good showing again,” he said.
“With two-year-olds it’s always on the day, so you never go in over confident.
“He worked pretty good on Tuesday morning to say he is worth one more run for sure.”
The Lanciano Plate gets the Ascot meeting underway on Saturday afternoon at 12.14.