American trainer Gary Contessa insists his Royal Ascot-bound Manhattan Dan is ‘the best sprinter out there’.
The three-year-old will make his first trip to Europe this summer after impressive back-to-back wins so far in 2016 including in the Fisher Island Handicap on Friday at Gulfstream Park.
After testing Manhattan Dan at longer distances, Contessa has vowed to stick to sprints and so will target the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on 17thJune with his confidence evident.
“We know what he is and we know what his limitations are, and let’s try to make him the best sprinter out there,” Contessa told Horse Racing Nation.
“So that’s the road we’ve taken this year, and so far we’re 100 per cent right. I know you get to England and it’s a whole different ball game, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to beat him going six furlongs. That’ll be his next start, we do want to try Royal Ascot. That’s the game plan for him.
“The race is there, (it’s a lot of money), six furlongs, and we think we have the best sprinter out there.”
Travelling has been an issue for Manhattan Dan though, even just around America, so shipping over to England for the summer is a risk.
Contessa however insists he will leave plenty of margin for time zone and travel issues and hopes to give the owners a good day out at Ascot.
“I will try to get him there three or four weeks in advance because I know he’s not the greatest shipper in the world, and that will give him plenty of time to recover and get on the straight and narrow,” Contessa said.
“He might be thinking he’s going a mile if he just has to go straight. Let’s hope he doesn’t. But it’s Royal Ascot, and those guys (the owners) will love that.
“They love what they’re doing and being a part of this business. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never been to Royal Ascot. Top hat and tails, that’ll be right up my alley. I’m looking forward to it,”
Entries for Royal Ascot’s eight Group One races close on 19th April and Manhattan Dan now looks likely to feature.
Royal Ascot runs Tuesday 14th-Saturday 18thJune, to find out more and secure your placeclick here.