Racing: Liber Nauticus flying flag for Sir Stoute

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LIBER Nauticus will be Sir Michael Stoute’s only Classic hope to go on trial when she makes her reappearance in today’s Tattersalls Musidora Stakes – the first day of York’s Dante meeting.

It was set to be a major week for the eminent trainer but the withdrawal of Derby prospect Telescope from tomorrow’s Dante leaves just the Investec Oaks candidate to appear on the Knavesmire.

Liber Nauticus, from owner-breeders Ballymacoll Stud, has only raced once so far and showed a huge amount of promise in a Goodwood maiden last September.

Strongly supported in the Oaks betting during the winter, she has only been knocked off the top of the market by the good recent performances by Moth and Secret Gesture. The Musidora, though, is often the strongest Oaks trial and has been won by Stoute seven times since 1977.

“She is only a maiden winner but this looks the obvious place to go and we’ll see what happens,” said Ballymacoll’s managing director, Peter Reynolds. “She has Oaks, Irish Oaks and Ribblesdale entries and we’ll see how she gets on.”

Arriving with a similar profile and a staying pedigree is the John Gosden-trained Woodland Aria. The daughter of Singspiel won her only start to date, a maiden at Wolverhampton last month.

Romantic Settings showed progress from her Haydock maiden victory at two by beating King Of The Danes in a Musselburgh handicap just a few days ago but trainer Richard Fahey is realistic about this jump in class and said: “It will be interesting but she has got to step right up on what she has done.”

David Nagle is praying the rain comes for Maarek ahead of the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. The Co. Tipperary trainer intends to run his star sprinter as long as conditions are suitable, having taken him out of a race at Longchamp on Sunday because there was not enough cut in the ground. “The forecast is meant to be pretty bad in York tonight. I’m the only one who hopes it comes,” said Nagle. “The horse is in super form. The only snag is that we need some rain.”

Mince ended 2012 on the top of her game with a four-timer culminating in wins at York and Ascot. The Roger Charlton-trained filly has headed the ante-post market for this Group 2 contest and jockey James Doyle is convinced she can go right to the top of the sprinting tree. “Her preparation has been good,” said Doyle.