The John Smith's Cup (Heritage Handicap) has a great history, and is one of the most prestigious handicaps in the flat season, and it could be the next target for Irv this coming Saturday at York.
This year's renewal looks as hot as ever, with 16 of the 31 entries rated at least 100, and Irv will need nine to come out in order to get a run. Irv looked even better than last season, on his seasonal debut at Thirsk 16 days ago, when finishing second off a mark of 82, it is reasonable to expect him to come on for the run, as it was his first appearance in over eight months.He was doing his best work in the final stages at Thirsk, and it has long been thought that we would not see the best of him until he was stepped up in trip.The John Smiths is over 10 furlongs, and Irv is already a dual winner at the track, but just to take part in a race of this calibre is an honour, and anything more than that would be a bonus.
IRV 25 February 2016. Zoffany-Marion Antoinette Owner-Irvine Lynch.
Of all our flat representatives last flat season Irv was the star performer, fulfilling owner Irvine Lynch's lifetime ambition of leading in a winner at York racecourse, he didn't just win there once, he won there twice in the space of three weeks in June, and July.
Irv was purchased at the 2018 Doncaster Breeze Up sales, and made his debut under Paul Mulrennan at Thirsk in July, being considerately ridden, he finished ninth of fourteen, beaten only six lengths.He then went to Beverley where he never gave himself a chance by pulling far too hard over the extended seven furlongs. It was back to Thirsk finishing a respectable fourth in a novice stakes, followed by his handicap debut at Redcar, off 73 where he was a staying on second, over seven furlongs.
He showed us as a three year old that he had trained on when a staying on fifth at Ripon over a mile, and then an eye catching ninth of 19, over an inadequate seven at York. Dropped back in to Novice company over a mile at Thirsk next time, he once again was doing his best work at the finish, when runner up to the 1/6 shot Davydenko, trained by Sir Michael Stoute. This was followed by the two wins at York both over a mile, with his now regular pilot James Sullivan.
From all accounts Irv has wintered well, and is looking bigger and stronger for his four year old campaign. The plan was to step up in trip last year, but that was put on hold due to his success, connections have always thought that we wouldn't see the best of Irv until he races beyond a mile.