Sights set on Melbourne Cup for Isle Of Jura

Trainer George Scott has his sights set on a Melbourne Cup bid with stable star Isle of Jura, following the gelding’s successful winter in Bahrain.

Isle of Jura training.
Isle of Jura training. Picture: Other

Bought by Scott at the Ascot Sale for £150,000, Isle Of Jura completed an unprecedented treble for owner Sheikh Nasser over the winter – winning the Bahrain Triple Crown under jockey Callum Shepherd.

"Bahrain was incredible," said Scott.

"To buy the horse for Sheikh Nasser, race through the winter and take out the three major races, which is something that has never been done before. Fortunately, Sheikh Nasser was around for most of the winter and so, we were able to enjoy it on the track. There's nothing like winning your own races at home, it was a special time."

Returning to the UK, Isle Of Jura's position in the middle-distance hierarchy is difficult to assess, with his last domestic victory coming in a mile handicap at Newmarket's July Course, and Scott is keen to test the gelding's credentials against the best.

"He's going to run in the Brigadier Gerard on in a couple of weeks at Sandown. That will be a nice bridge towards the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot.

"The Brigadier Gerard will answer a few questions about how he fits domestically; in that grade and against Group company. We're very pleased with him, we feel like he's only moving forward. But we're very much aware that the Brigadier Gerard will be a step forward from anything he's seen before. I'll let him do the talking on the track, but we're very pleased."

Bred by Godolphin, Isle Of Jura is by New Approach and boasts a pedigree already familiar to Australian racing fans – his full-brother Cascadian landed the Group 1 Australia Cup at Flemington in March, for trainer James Cummings.

"His main asset is that he is bred to be a very good horse. He's from a very good Godolphin family that do better with time; his full brother won over six million in Australia and won a Group One at the age of nine in March. Another half-brother (Alabahr) won the Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine and the fillies have all improved from two to three.

"It's not like this is a cheaply bred horse that's over achieving – he's bred to do this job and race at the highest level."

Whilst summer plans remain flexible for Isle Of Jura, Australia is firmly on the agenda for the second half of the year.

"The Melbourne Cup is obviously the main target. How we get there – we'll take it step by step. It's a race I've always loved.

"I've seen lots of my friends go down and try and win it and they've enjoyed the experience. I want that experience and I feel this horse has got the qualities that might be required to be competitive.

With all four victories in Bahrain coming on fast ground, Scott is confident that Isle Of Jura will relish the likely conditions at Flemington – but a soft going description, as seen when Gold Trip won in 2022, would not rule the gelding out.

"He likes a flat track and he's happy around a bend. Bahrain is quite tight and he was very comfortable under those conditions. We know he goes on very fast ground.

"Obviously the distance would be something completely alien to him but again, he got a mile and a half very well. Most horses that run in the race are in the same boat, they haven't necessarily tried the distance."

Isle Of Jura may not travel to Australia alone, with stablemate Prydwen finding his best form as a six-year-old. Owned by Blue Star Racing, the gelding recorded a valuable win in the All-Weather Championships Marathon Handicap in March and followed up with a success over two miles at Southwell.

"Prydwen keeps doing it – he's run three career bests in a row at the age of six.

"We've found the way to ride him, he's quite a nervous horse and likes to get out in front. He's going to run in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown and then we'll consider all options with him.

"If he went down there (to Australia), we might have the Melbourne Cup as a secondary objective and try and pick up some prize money – get him down there early, and see if he is a Cup horse."

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