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From Alpha Delphini, Tangerine Trees to Moveista, Bryan Smart has trained plenty of popular sprinters over the years, and in Project Dante he might just have another talented one on his hands.

The Norfolk third blotted his copybook when failing to settle in the July Stakes, but the Sutton Bank trainer is hoping he can bounce back in the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr on Friday.

“He ran too free at Newmarket, he didn’t get the six furlong trip. He was too strong and he didn’t settle and that’s that,” Smart told Tote.

“But he seems in great form at home and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’m happy but he’s got to produce his Norfolk form, so all I can do is run him and see.”

“We’ve had plenty of good sprinters and this one is a lovely horse and we really like him. Whether the other horses have caught up with him, we just don’t know, but he’s a big strong colt and if he can put together the performances of his first two runs he’s got every chance.”

Norfolk Stakes Ascot

While his run at HQ curtailed his improvement, however temporary, Project Dante’s trainer has no regrets about trying him over 6f.

“I was gutted, but from a trainer’s point of view you have to try and open the programme book up to yourself because there’s not a lot of black type 5f races for two-year-olds.

“So we had to see if he gets 6f at some stage in the season, and on his run at Ascot, with the way that he was staying on, it looked like he would get the trip, but unfortunately he didn’t.” 

Tricky assignment for Blackberry

Another resident of Hambleton House seeks black type for herself at Ayr on Friday, in the form of Blackberry, who runs in the Arran Scottish Sprint Fillies Stakes.

She’s got some red-hot company in the Listed event, including Keep Busy, last year’s Albany winner Dandalla, and the twice Group-placed Teresa Mendoza leading a trio of Irish raiders.

Nevertheless, Smart is hoping she might have an outside chance of bagging some black type.

“She’s in good form at home and based on her win at York where she ran on at the end, I think she’ll get this slightly longer trip. 

“Her handicap mark went up to 89 for that win so even if we don’t do the business here, she’ll never lose that peak rating which is fantastic for her career as a broodmare.”


Northernpowerhouse goes for Bronze

Completing a trio of Smart runners at Ayr on Friday is Northernpowerhouse, who goes in the Bronze Cup, and having got in at number 15, his trainer couldn’t be happier.

“I’d have been gutted if we hadn’t got into the Bronze Cup, as he ran fourth in the Silver Cup last year and is 7lbs lower now,” Smart told Tote.

The reason the five-year-old has fallen in the weights is because he’s not finished in the frame in his seven outings since that run 12 months ago, something that his trainer can’t put his finger on.

“For some reason he hasn’t fired this year in his races, but he seems as well as I’ve ever had him at home and he’s got the ability to run a big race.”

The son of Harbour Watch wore a visor for the first time, when seventh at Thirsk last month, but it looks set to just be his regular cheek-pieces on Friday with his trainer believing he didn’t face the new headgear.

“If you watch the race again he was looking across, cocking his head so from that point of view I think that is where we are with the visor.”

Northern Powerhouse

Lady Of Yapham a live chance in Group 3

The big race runners don’t end on Friday for the Smart team, with Lady Of Yapham set to represent the yard in the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes.

A winner at Catterick last month, Smart, who has won the race three times in the past, most recently with Delectation Girl in 2016, sees no reason not to give it a shot with this filly.

“She ran a blinder last time to win at 20/1. She’s bred to get the six furlong trip as long as she settles and I think she’s as good a chance as anything I’ve won the race with.”

It’s not always been smooth sailing with the daughter of Twilight Sun, who has improved with each run, but based on her debut that was always going to be the case.

“To be perfectly honest, we were very disappointed with her first run. I thought she would nearly win because we’d had a few winners with our two-year-olds by that point, but she just lost the plot.

“She just didn’t settle, she pulled so hard and when she came back one of her ribs was very sore.

“Luckily I’ve got a very good sports therapist in the form of my wife, so we didn’t have to wait for anyone to come in to treat her. We got her right and then she went and ran a marvellous race second time out.”

Having got back on the straight and narrow it was only last time out that she really showed what she might be capable of and forced her trainer's hand to run in this weekend’s Group 3.

“We went to Catterick thinking a fast five might be too sharp for her but she did it really well.

“That ruined her handicap mark but I won’t mind that if she wins on Saturday!” 

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