Voyage sets sail for John of Gaunt prize

‘It’s a decent race, but he’s in good nick’

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Safe Voyage bids to take his Haydock love affair to new heights when he goes for Group Three glory in the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes on Saturday.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in three races at the Merseyside venue, all with cut in the ground and with the last two coming this season – a handicap in April followed by a Listed success last month.

And with conditions in his favour, trainer John Quinn is hoping Safe Voyage can step up to the plate.

“We’re very happy with him, he’s in very good form and seems to really like Haydock and cut in the ground,” said the Malton handler. It’s a decent race, but he’s in good nick.

“We hope he can go and win again.”

In contrast, Sir Dancealot drops down in grade after finishing seventh in the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

David Elsworth’s five-year-old is a dual Group Two winner and has also been successful at this level.

“I think this looks the right sort of race for him,” said Elworth.

“He runs well over a lot of different trips, but having won a Lennox and a Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs, you’d have to say the trip isn’t going to be a problem for him anyway.

“I just hope the ground doesn’t get too heavy. It will be third successive day of racing there and we don’t want the ground to be too cut up, but hopefully it might dry out.

“We’ll make the best of it anyway.”

Suedois was only beaten a short head by Sir Dancealot in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last summer – with Breton Rock, who reopposes, third – and was fourth to Safe Voyage here on his latest start.

His trainer David O’Meara admitted being disappointed with that effort and is looking for a better show this time.

“He won’t mind the ground at least,” he said.

“I was a bit disappointed with him the last time, to be honest, but I think he’s in good form and hopefully he’ll run his race.”

The Ralph Beckett-trained Mitchum Swagger was only beaten a length in fourth place two years ago when with David Lanigan and has the ground to suit on his return.

“Conditions are in his favour. This time of year we have to take our chances where and when we get soft ground, which is why we’re going there,” said Beckett.

“Arguably his best performance was when he ran it in before, so we’re hoping for a good show.”

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