Niven looks for Yorkshire Cup double - but Queen's horse looks the pick

Niven looks for Yorkshire Cup double - but Queen's horse looks the pick
By Sportsbeat

19/05/2017 at 10:17

Racing is still nothing but a family thing for Peter Niven as he looks to secure another memento moment.

Jump jockey turned trainer Niven is hoping nine-year-old Clever Cookie - a horse who also owns and his mother bred - is primed to deliver another success in Friday's Yorkshire Cup, the first race in the long-distance division of the Qipco British Champions Series.

In the 90 year history of the race only one horse - Ardross - has won back-to-back Yorkshire Cups, which he traditionally used as a high-profile prep, winning the Ascot Gold Cup in 1981 and 1982 under the charge of Lester Piggott.

"Twelve months ago was a very special moment for my family and while he's another year older and a little bit lazier, he's still so enthusiastic," said Niven, whose small yard still counts last year's group two success on the Knavesmire as its greatest triumph.

"His preparations haven't been totally perfect but he's done enough to get in the race and he loves training and is very happy back home, he's our top man."

If Niven isn't the most fashionable trainer then the gilt-edged combination of jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Sir Michael Stoute and owner The Queen boast strong claims to deliver on ground that is sure to suit.

Royal runner Dartmouth showed his class with a Hardwicke win at Royal Ascot last summer and everything, from form to pedigree, indicates that he'll enjoy the soft ground after a week of heavy rain.

Meanwhile, Mark Johnston's Permian will pay the £85,000 supplement for the Derby after his victory in the Dante Stakes, a race that has produced the winner of flat racing's showpiece on ten previous occasions, most recently Golden Horn in 2015.

"It's great to have a live chance in the Derby because this wasn't in our plans just two weeks ago," said Johnston, while admitting he couldn't remember his last runner in the race.

"He's just progressing and no-one holds any fear for us and I could see from two furlongs out that he was going to win. In the Dante you find out if you're a Derby horse and we've certainly got one."

Europe's showpiece flat race remains wide open with Guineas winner Churchill, Aidan O'Brien's Cliffs Of Moher and John Gosden's Cracksman all co-favourites for the renewal in just over two weeks.

Much-discussed Frankel colt Cracksman didn't have the chance to underline his credentials at York after Gosden pulled him out of the Dante due to soft ground fears.

However, timings suggest conditions were not so attritional with Permian's winning time only a fraction outside standard.

Gosden has previously admitted his charge - unbeaten in his two starts, including beating Permian at Epsom's Derby Trial - has lots of learn, so this could be an opportunity missed.

Sportsbeat 2017