John Quinn has every reason to look forward to an exciting campaign when racing hopefully restarts next week.
The Malton trainer was among the winners before the coronavirus shutdown brought the sport to a halt in mid-March – and hopes to resume where he left off, with stable stars Liberty Beach, Safe Voyage and El Astronaute all reported to be doing well and ready to run.
Liberty Beach was a fine fourth in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, before winning at Sandown and Glorious Goodwood and rounding off her year with a runner-up finish in the Lowther at York.
A return to the Royal meeting is on the agenda, after an outing at either Newcastle or Haydock over the first few days of action.
Quinn told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m very pleased with her, she had six runs and ran really well every time.
“In the Queen Mary itself the first three were drawn stand side and she won her race up the far side. Then she won the Molecomb, which was a very good performance. We had the Cheveley Park in mind, but she just seemed like she’d had enough.
“She’s had a very good break and she’s been back a while. She’s fit and well and she may run a week on Thursday or there’s a race at Haydock on June 7. That aside she’ll be entered for both the Commonwealth Cup and King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.
“It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword – probably the right race to run her in is against the three-year-olds, but it’s a very stiff six at Ascot and she’s not devoid of speed. Three-year-old fillies have quite a good record in the King’s Stand and historically have a good record in that race.
“We’ll keep our options open and hope we get there, but I’m very happy with her.”
Safe Voyage could be a Queen Anne contender, having ended 2019 with top-notch efforts when fourth in the Prix de la Foret and third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day.
Quinn said: “There’s a suitable race for him at Haydock and also at Newmarket, so if ground conditions were right – he just needs good ground, he doesn’t want it too quick – we’ll also consider Royal Ascot because he ran very well there on his last run of the year.
“He’s training very well and he’s fit. He worked on Saturday morning and worked really well. He doesn’t mind travelling, so we’ll keep our eyes on everything.”
El Astronaute runs is the same Ross Harmon colours as Safe Voyage and was also seen to great effect on Arc weekend at ParisLongchamp, running a big race to be third in the Prix de l’Abbaye.
Quinn said: “He’s training really, we were hoping to take him, Liberty Beach and Safe Voyage to France for their debuts this year, but that obviously didn’t happen. He’s very well and he’s ready to go. We might consider the Palace House, he goes on all ground and we’ll just keep our eyes on everything for him.
“He’s been a great horse to train and for his owner Ross Harmon. He’s improved every year and we had a wonderful weekend in France last year, we didn’t have a winner but he was placed in the Abbaye and Safe Voyage finished fourth in a Group Two, so they are two great horses to have.”
He added: “We had horses in and ready early and they were in good form and I think we had a winner the day before lockdown. But we are where we are, we decided with our horses we would keep going, which we have done.
“The staff have been fine, which is great. Obviously if anyone had a cold or symptoms we isolated them, which we feel was right. The horses are in good form and more importantly the staff are all fine. Our horses are fit when racing resumes.
“It’s going to be different – a lot of things are going to be different – but if we get going and the pandemic keeps going down as it is going, all of a sudden the wheels of industry, which includes us, everything will start going again and we’re heading back towards normality.
“We’re all very much looking forward to resuming racing and we’ll all do our bit and get the show going.”