NORTH Yorkshire trainer Paul Midgley, who has been taking all before him in recent weeks with his sprinters, heads to York today hoping to strike it rich with the high-flying Line Of Thunder - but he just might be upstaged by his Irish colleague David Marnane in the £50,000 Skybet Dash.
Last month at the Curragh, Westow-based Midgley won the valuable Scurry Handicap with Line Of Reason, with Marnane's Zalty a close-up second.
The placings could now be reversed with Marnane set to take his revenge on Midgley's home ground, having had to settle for minor honours on his own local course.
The main factor is that Zalty is now set to meet his conqueror on 9lb better terms, taking into account Connor King's apprentice allowance. Line Of Reason has won another handicap at York since his Curragh triumph and is clearly thriving.
He looks sure to make a bold bid, but Zalty is selected to have his measure.
Tim Easterby's course winner Sea The Sun and the well-regarded Muthmir, trained by William Haggas, are two others to consider in a wide open race.
The £100,000 Skybet York Stakes is the richest race on the card and although the Godolphin team is particularly well represented with three of the eight runners, the vote goes to Producer, trained by Richard Hannon, pictured.
A Group 3 and Listed winner last season, Producer has run creditably, but has yet to strike this term. But he has had two stiff tasks in the Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 1 race won by Toronado and a Group 2 race back at Ascot a couple of weeks ago. This step up in trip is fancied to suit Sean Levey's mount, who should now be cherry-ripe.
Carnevale has good prospects in the opening Skybet Fillies' Handicap.
An impressive winner at Newbury two starts ago, Ralph Beckett's three-year-old has since finished a creditable third in handicap company at Leicester. There promises to be more to come from her.
Short Squeeze should not be overlooked in the Skybet Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap.
The four-year-old was a three-times winner last season, which included a victory on this course. He showed that he was coming back to form in Listed company at Windsor last time and, even with 10st to carry, has to be respected.
Mercury, an £80,000 son of Showcasing, trained by Kevin Ryan, deserves attention in the juvenile maiden, while nap selection Itlaaq (4.40), trained by Mick Easterby, will relish the step up to two miles and has the assistance of Kieren Fallon.
The top-notch Ascot meeting is highlighted by one of the season's genuine showpieces, the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which carries more than £1m in prize money.
Former Malton-based jockey Paul Hanagan has never before ridden in this famous contest, but he makes his debut on Taghrooda, who looked an outstanding Oaks winner at Epsom last month.
It is significant that John Gosden and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum have elected to run Taghrooda here instead of taking in last weekend's Irish Oaks, for which she would have been odds-on favourite.
Hanagan has chosen Taghrooda over Mukhadram, on whom he recently won the Coral-Eclipse Stakes. That means plenty. Hopefully for Hanagan, the filly can account for Mukhadram, as well as Magican, Telescope, Trading Leather and the rest.
The Ascot programme also features the £150,000 Longines International Handicap which looks a real head-scratcher for punters. A tentative vote is awarded to Horsted Keynes, who is held in high regard in the Roger Varian stable and who is surely capable of further progress after his runner-up effort at Royal Ascot last month.
Mark Johnston's impressive Newmarket winner Muraaqaba (2.05) and recent Redcar winner See The Storm (4.25) are two others to note.
1.50 Carnevale, 2.20 Short Squeeze, 2.55 Producer, 3.30 Zalty, 4.05 Mercury, 4.40 Itlaaq (NAP), 5.15 Golden Zephyr.
1.30 Muhaarar, 2.05 Muraaqaba, 2.40 Kafeel, 3.15 Horsted Keynes, 3.50 Taghrooda, 4.25 See The Storm, 5.00 Itsnowcato.
Today's other meetings: Newcastle, Newmarket, Lingfield and Salisbury.
Tomorrow's meetings: Ascot, Carlisle and Pontefract.