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Railway Stakes mission for The Strikin Viking this weekend

Railway Stakes mission for The Strikin Viking this weekend
Railway Stakes mission for The Strikin Viking this weekend

Connections are hoping The Strikin Viking can be as prolific as the Premier League footballer he was named after when he aims to build on an impressive debut in the Gain Railway Stakes at the Curragh.

The two-year-old is named after Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and his owners, Middleham Park Racing, admitted they saved the moniker for a “nice horse”.

Bought for 65,000 guineas, he was sent to trainer Kevin Ryan and found his feet at home before debuting in the Reg Griffin Appreciation ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes at York earlier this month.

The Strikin Viking wins at York in June
The Strikin Viking is named after Manchester City striker Erling Haaland (Nigel French/PA)

The son of Inns Of Court travelled strongly to make all and win by two and three-quarters lengths ahead of Tiger Mask, which immediately brought him into the conversation of Group-level contests.

The Strikin Viking is out to follow in the footsteps of Kool Kompany, who carried the sky blue and yellow silks of Middleham to victory in the 2014 running of the Curragh Group Two.

On Tuesday, he was supplemented into the Sunday’s race, where he could face four Aidan O’Brien runners among a total of nine rivals, and director of Middleham Park Racing Tim Palin believes he has “earned his stripes” for a step up to Pattern company.

“We went to York, we were hopeful he would be showing what he had been doing at home on the track, and he did that in spades,” Palin said.

“The performance had a bit of a ‘wow’ factor about it. He did it on the clock and he did it visually as well, I think the commentator on the day used the word ‘pulverised’.

“Straight away Kevin was mentioning races like the Gimcrack so he’s of the opinion that he’s a Group horse. He’s gone and done it on the track in a fast time with big numbers so he’s worthy of consideration at least for Group races.

“He wasn’t initially in the Railway Stakes, just because of the chronology of the sales. The entries go in fairly early for that race and he was still a horse that was settling in from the breeze-ups, and we don’t like to put in fancy entries until they’ve earned their stripes on the track.

“He’s earned his stripes. The race looks a particularly warm renewal and there’s lots of Aidan O’Brien horses in there. There’s lots of fancy silks and we are just privileged to be dining at the same table as these people.

“It wasn’t an easy decision whether to spend €12,000 on the supplement, but collectively we earned more than that in prize-money and €10,000 Irish incentive at York so we are rolling back in some of our earnings.

“He warrants a place in there, (not sure) whether he can cut the mustard against horses like that. But usually the horses that do on the numbers on debut are capable of a step up in class.

“We thought we would go down the step-up-in-class route rather than the novice under a penalty. The ground will be quicker at the Curragh than it was at York so there will be differences there, but we thought a faint heart never wins a fair maiden.

“We’ve rolled the dice with a number of horses in the past. If you have a horse like this, this is what we try to bring to the general public where you can pit your wits against Aidan O’Brien, against Amo Racing and line up against their silks, and on the odd occasion you will come away disappointed and the odd occasion you will come away with glory.”

Palin opened up on possible destinations for The Strikin Viking this summer, with France and a return to the Knavesmire set to be likely appointments.

“As a northerner I would love to win the Gimcrack. It would be fantastic to reconvene at the Gimcrack dinner and celebrate the victory,” he said.

“He’s in the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly in July, obviously a race like the Gimcrack would be the dream, if he went back to the Knavesmire and at least run in that, let alone pull it off, if he could finish in the fame there that would be some achievement.

“It will be a big learning curve for him, for us, and we might come away disappointed, we might come away bathed in glory. We will see, that’s why we do this.”

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