The Michael Bell trained The Lir Jet has been the latest smart sprinter to be eyed at the Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month, with the race now looking like producing one of the best renewals since its existence.
The two year old bounced onto the racing scene this season when breaking the track record at Yarmouth in a five furlong event.
He was then entered into the Group Two Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, having just been bought by Qatar Racing and he went on to land the contest, just pipping American raider Golden Pal on the line.
He was last seen on Sunday at Chantilly in the small fielded six-furlong Prix Robert Papin and although suffering his first defeat of his career, he only went down by a short head to the Richard Hannon trained Ventura Tormenta.
(Credit ATR) Bell said: “He’s back in the yard and seems none the worse for his exertions, thankfully.
“I’ve just been talking to Sheikh Fahad and I think we’re going to drop back to five furlongs for the Nunthorpe – that’s the thinking at the moment.
“Oisin is pretty emphatic that he’s better horse over five furlongs and the form book would suggest that, too.”
The Newmarket handler understands how much his Qatar Racing owned two year old will have to improve in the Nunthorpe against an abundance of talented sprinters that could include Battaash, Oxted and Sceptical.
Bell added: “If the Battaash we know turns up, he’ll be a worthy favourite, but if we don’t go there you’d be running somewhere carrying penalties, or running over six furlongs in the Prix Morny, which would mean more travelling.
“It’s not set in stone, but Sheikh Fahad’s view is you don’t succeed if you don’t try, which is a good attitude to have.”
The trainer believes there was a number of reasons why the rising star suffered his first defeat of his career.
He said: “He was just in front just before and just after the line, so it’s cruel luck, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
“I think he probably did underperform, although we thought he looked great in the parade ring beforehand and we were very happy with him going into the race.
“I know there were only four runners, but if you’re looking for excuses, I do think the draw had an effect. It is difficult out on a wing and if we’d been drawn inside Ventura Tormenta, against the rail, we may have seen a different result.
“Take nothing away from the winner, though – it was obviously a well-executed plan from the Hannon's and the Middleham Park team.”