Karl Burke is keeping his fingers crossed Kelly’s Dino can earn himself a shot at the £1million Sky Bet Ebor when he makes a swift return to action in the John Smith’s Silver Cup at York.
The six-year-old is sent back into battle just seven days after his lucrative triumph in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock, after which his trainer was initially eyeing a tilt at Friday’s similarly valuable bet365 Trophy at Newmarket.
However, with the Ebor very much top of the agenda, the Spigot Lodge handler had a change of heart earlier this week and views Saturday’s Group Three contest – run over the Ebor course and distance – as a more suitable potential stepping-stone.
“The reason for going for the Old Newton Cup was to try to get him into the race on Friday at Newmarket,” said Burke.
“As it turned out, we probably didn’t need the penalty and we’re now going to go to York on Saturday for the Group Three.
“That may seem a strange decision because he’s wrong at the weights with three or four horses. But the main target is the Ebor, and he’s rated 102 now after his win on Saturday, and that’s probably not going to be enough to get in the Ebor this year.
“My line of thinking is if he can go and run a good race at York, over the Ebor trip, and finish maybe third or fourth, he may get another couple of pounds on his back – which might be just enough to get him into the Ebor.”
Although Kelly’s Dino has climbed to a three-figure rating for the first time in his career, Burke is confident the handicapper has not caught up with him just yet.
He added: “He’s a progressive horse who has never overdone himself – he won with his ears pricked really the other day.
“There’s plenty more in the tank for him and if he was to go and run well in the Ebor, that would bring things like Australia (Melbourne Cup) into the equation, which would be a dream come true.”
Kelly’s Dino faces seven rivals on the Knavesmire and officially has 10lb to find with the top-rated pair, John Gosden’s Weekender and the Ian Williams-trained Gold Mount.
Originally trained by Alan King, Gold Mount subsequently enjoyed a fruitful two-year spell in Hong Kong before joining Williams this spring.
The six-year-old made a flying start for his new trainer when beating Brian Meehan’s Raheen House – who re-opposes on Saturday – in the Grand Cup at York four weeks ago.
“He’s been in good form since winning over the course and distance last month,” said Williams.
“He did surprise me with how well he performed that day, but obviously he’s a very talented horse.
“I’ve been pleased with his progress since and it does look a good opportunity for him.
“The ground looks like it will be a bit quicker than it was when he won there last time, but it won’t be any quicker than the ground he encountered in Hong Kong on a regular basis.”
Asked whether Gold Mount could return to York for the Ebor, the trainer added: “I don’t know. This could feasibly be his last run in the UK for the time being, because we are hoping to take him to Australia at some stage.
“We’ll see. There’s nothing like horses for changing your plans.”
Irish hopes are carried by Jarlath Fahey’s Sea The Lion, who returns to York having finished third in the Ebor last August.
The eight-year-old has made just one competitive appearance since, finishing a promising second at the Curragh little over a fortnight ago.
Speaking earlier this week, Fahey said: “He’s in good form, and we’re looking forward to going across and having a go.
“We’re short of races for him in Ireland over his trip and his ground, so we always knew we’d be looking to bring him back to England to get a couple of runs into him.
“This fits in nicely, and we’ll see how he goes and make a plan for the Ebor afterwards. We’re gearing towards it at the moment.”
Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop), Island Brave (Heather Main) and Maid Up (Andrew Balding) complete the line-up.