Thirsk stages a competitive seven-race card on its annual Irish Day this Saturday, May 18, headlined by the £20,000 Constant Security Services Handicap (4.30pm, 24 entries) over seven furlongs.
The weights for the feature race are headed by the 105-rated So Beloved (9st 7lb) trained by David O'Meara near York. The classy nine-year-old captured the G3 Supreme Stakes at Goodwood in 2015 and his more recent efforts include a close second behind stablemate Larchmont Lad in the G2 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, in July.
So Beloved is not the only Group race victor among the entries, with that accolade also belonging to eight-year-old Aeolus (8st 9lb), winner of the G3 Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle in 2015 over six furlong, like his other four victories, for Lambourn handler Ed Walker.
Aeolus has had a three starts for his current trainer, Ruth Carr, who is based not far from Thirsk between Easingwold and Stillington, and the pick of those efforts came at Thirsk in the seven-furlong ebfstallions.com Michael Foster Conditions Race on April 13, when fourth behind Vanbrugh.
Carr said today: "We are keen for Aeolus to go back up to seven furlongs as we felt his best run for us came in the conditions race at Thirsk.
"He was flat out all the way at Doncaster last time [May 4] over six furlongs, whereas hopefully back over seven he will be able to travel and enjoy himself.
"We know he is a horse with plenty of ability, but perhaps he has just lost his mojo a bit. He is still very enthusiastic in his work and he has been very sound since we have had him, so I am hoping we can find the key to him."
Carr's stable jockey, James Sullivan, will again take the ride on Aeolus.
Saeed bin Suroor has a 32 per cent strike rate at Thirsk and the Godolphin trainer, based in Newmarket, has engaged Bedouin's Story (8st 9lb), who posted an impressive victory in a handicap over the course and distance in August.
Rebecca Bastiman landed Thirsk's richest race of the season, the Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup, with Hayadh at the start of the month and the Cowthorpe handler is represented by progressive five-year-old Elerfaan (8st 4lb), who was just touched off at Chester on May 8.
Michael Dods has three entries, headed by Byron's Choice (8st 9lb), who is going for a four-timer after victories at Catterick, Ayr and York last summer, while Mark Johnston's four contenders include recent Goodwood runner-up Love Dreams (8st 11lb) and Listed scorer Lake Volta (9st).
Newmarket trainer Amy Murphy is hoping Erissimus Maximus (9st 1lb) can double up in the £15,000 JW 4x4 Northallerton Handicap (3.55pm, 34 entries) over six furlongs, after the five-year-old made all of the running to win under the talented 7lb claiming apprentice Cieren Fallon, son of former top jockey Kieren Fallon, at Windsor on May 6, his first start on turf of 2019.
Murphy reported today: "Erissimus Maximus is in good form and has come out of his win at Windsor in good form.
"That was his first win for us and he was given a good ride by Cieren Fallon who is great value for his 7lb claim.
"He battled gamely to win that day and he really seemed to enjoy himself. That was his first outings for a few weeks following a short break, something that obviously did him plenty of good after a busy schedule [on the All-Weather].
"He is an entered at Thirsk on Saturday for the six-furlong contest. It is definitely something we are considering and the track and trip should suit."
Elsewhere on the card, 850,000 guineas Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale purchase Divine Spirit (Charlie Appleby) could make her debut in the opening £10,400 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies' Maiden (2.10pm, 43 entries). The Kingman filly was a non-runner at Ascot last week on account of the soft ground.
Investec Derby entry Questionare (John Gosden) is among 24 horses in the Richard Foster Tribute Novice Race (5.05pm) over 12 furlongs.
Lady Bamford's homebred son of Galileo was an eye-catching winner on debut at Wolverhampton on March 4 before going down narrowly at Yarmouth on April 30.
Thirsk's Saturday card has a first-raced time of 2.10pm, with the last contest scheduled for 5.40pm. The seven races have attracted an excellent total of 231 entries.