Connections of Max Dynamite are hoping a return to the flat can rekindle his enthusiasm when he bids for glory in Friday’s Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old was an impressive winner of the Lonsdale Cup at York back in 2015.
He went on to finish a half-length second in the Melbourne Cup later that year and was placed in the Flemington showpiece again last November, this time coming home in third.Since finishing sixth in the Hong Kong Vase the following month, Rich Ricci’s charge has aimed to make the most of a seemingly favourable mark over hurdles, but he has finished well-beaten in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and at Punchestown three weeks ago.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Max Dynamite has been a bit disappointing over hurdles, but he’s probably just not in love with them and he also wants proper fast ground.
“It looks like conditions at York will play to his strengths and hopefully he’ll bounce back to form.”
Max Dynamite will be partnered by Ryan Moore in Friday’s one-mile-six-furlong feature.Mullins has a second string to his bow in Wicklow Brave, the mount of Andrea Atzeni.
The 2016 Irish St Leger winner also changes codes after finishing second to Supasundae when defending his crown in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle under Mullins junior.
He added: “Wicklow Brave ran a blinder in Punchestown. The ground on the Friday was probably as soft as it was all week and he’s another that wants better ground to be seen at his best.
“With Wicklow, a lot depends what side of the bed he gets out of. He’s not getting any younger, but he retains plenty of ability and hopefully he’ll continue to pay his way.”Dartmouth carried the colours of the Queen to victory in last year’s Yorkshire Cup and the royal silks will this time be sported by the William Haggas-trained Call To Mind.
The Galileo colt needs to raise his game in this Qipco British Champions Series contest after finishing fourth on his seasonal bow at Newbury.
Haggas said: “He’s in great shape, I’m really pleased with him. He’s come out of the race at Newbury really well and I hope he can run well. He needs racing now and he needs a trip, too.
“I was a little bit disappointed with his run at Newbury, but it didn’t go as planned and he also needed that to blow the cobwebs out, plus he wants further.
“He’s going to get that on Friday and he will go further again (in future) I’m sure.” Andrew Balding’s Count Octave made a winning reappearance at Wolverhampton before finishing third behind the prolific Defoe in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month.
“It was a muddling race and not run to suit,” said Balding.
“There’s obviously no way he would have beaten Defoe, anyway, but I felt if maybe we’d made a little bit more use of him, he would have been second.
“At the same time, if he’d done that we might not have been able to run (13 days later) in the Yorkshire Cup.
“It certainly has not taken an edge off him. The extra two furlongs will suit and I think it’s a track will suit him as well.
“The faster the ground, the better and I’d hope he will run a decent race.”
Last year’s Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius is the likely favourite for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori.
Not only did he lower the colours of Gold Cup hero Big Orange last term, but the four-year-old was also a highly-creditable third in both the St Leger and the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Peter Niven’s 2016 Yorkshire Cup hero Clever Cookie, the David Elsworth-trained Desert Skyline and On To Victory from Eve Johnson Houghton’s yard complete the eight-strong field.