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Middleham could roll Group One dice with The Strikin Viking

Middleham could roll Group One dice with The Strikin Viking
Middleham could roll Group One dice with The Strikin Viking

Connections could be torn between “sensible shoes” or wanting to “reach for the stars” with The Strikin Viking following his gallant second in the Gain Railway Stakes.

The two-year-old built on his impressive debut at York, where he travelled strongly to make all and win by two and three-quarters lengths, to fail narrowly on his first Pattern appearance in Ireland on Sunday.

Kevin Ryan’s colt hit the front with a furlong to go in the Group Two race at the Curragh, but he was headed by Aidan O’Brien’s Henri Matisse in the closing stages to finish a half-length second in the five-runner contest.

Owners Middleham Park Racing are buoyed by the display of their charge after the son of Inns Of Court moved three and a quarter lengths clear of Norfolk Stakes third Arizona Blaze.

That has opened plenty of opportunities for The Strikin Viking, although director of Middleham Park Racing Tim Palin has ruled out the previously touted Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly later this month.

Instead, it will be a call on whether to remain at this level in the Qatar Richmond Stakes at Goodwood or Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes at York, or to step up to Group One company with a return to the Curragh for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes or a trip to France for the Prix Morny at Deauville next month.

“He’s back home already, he ate up and trotted up just fine. We can start making some plans,” Palin said.

“Delighted. You probably would have taken that before the race. He’s pulled three and a quarter lengths clear of the Norfolk third so the collateral form is there.

“At the minute, I think Timeform has just given it a 108, whether that gets slightly adjusted because of the time I don’t know, up or down. A mighty performance in defeat and the winner is already favourite for the 2000 Guineas I’m led to believe.

“He’s in the Papin, the chronology might not work brilliantly. He had 15 days between York and then, he will probably only have another 14 days between the Railway and that.

“There was an element of it was one or the other, so just at the minute we might just park him up for a little while, a mini-break.

The Strikin Viking wins on debut for Kevin Ryan at York
A return to York or the Curragh could be an option for The Strikin Viking (Nigel French/PA)

“Races like the Richmond and the Gimcrack would be on the agenda, and for all that he’s not in the Phoenix Stakes, we might just monitor what’s being aimed at that because if Timeform stick with their 108, that performance is only bettered by the winner and Bedtime Story.

“If at the minute he’s the third-best rated two-year-old out there, why wouldn’t you consider the Phoenix Stakes or the Morny?

“We’ve got two Group Two options there if you pop on some sensible shoes with the Richmond and the Gimcrack, but if we wanted to reach for the stars then the possibilities of either the Phoenix Stakes or the Morny, which are within seven days of each other.

“The two-year-old cohort is going to be split in two directions at that time and arguably more if you are talking Gimcracks and such like.”

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