By Graham Clark
Kevin Ryan is looking forward to his “exceptional” mare Glass Slippers returning to the track in the Casumo Temple Stakes at Haydock Park later this month, but admits the five-year-old might not be seen at her best until later in the year.
The triple Group One-winning daughter of Dream Ahead is the standout name among 19 entries received for the Group Two contest over five furlongs on 22 May.
After scoring at Group One level in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on her final start as a three-year-old, Glass Slippers claimed two victories at the highest level last season in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland.
Watch how Glass Slippers powered to Group One glory on Longines Irish Champions Weekend last season
Ryan won this race with Hot Streak in 2014 and reports his stable star in good shape ahead of her seasonal return.
"The plan is to start her off in the Temple Stakes prior to going to Royal Ascot," the trainer said. "Although this is her first run of the year she is in great form.
“Anything she does at Haydock she will improve for it, but it is a good starting point. Haydock is a good galloping track and we are very much looking forward to getting her going there.
“She had a fantastic time last year, though it is always in the back of your mind that she is better in the second half of the season.
“Whether that is going to be different this year I don’t know, but we are very fortunate to have her back in training again this year as she is an exceptional mare.”
Given what Glass Slippers has already achieved it would have been easy for owners Bearstone Stud Limited to have retired her at the end of last season, and Ryan is only too thankful that they decided to keep her in training for another year.
He added: “Retirement is always something that is always going to be there after what she has done. She is a homebred filly and they have been breeding horses for a long time.
“They wanted to have another season racing with her which is very sporting, as she is still plenty young enough to breed plenty of foals later on.”
Although Glass Slippers has gone on to cement her position as one of the finest sprinters around, Ryan insists it was his own fault she failed to fire early on as a three-year-old.
He added: “Her first run as a three-year-old in the Fred Darling at Newbury you can draw a line through. She hadn’t come in her coat and the ground wasn’t great. I shouldn’t have run her as I knew we had a better filly than that.
“The rest, as they say, is history as she just continued taking steps forward the rest of that season and she did the same last year as a four-year-old.”
Reflecting on Glass Slippers’ career to date, Ryan finds it hard to rank any of her Group One victories above the other and insists he treats them all the same.
He said: “Any Group One you win you enjoy as they are hard to win no matter where they are, whether they be here, France, Ireland or wherever. A Group One is a Group One at the end of the day and when you win one you get great enjoyment out of it.”
Other notable entries in the race include last year’s Darley July Cup hero Oxted from the yard of Roger Teal and the Charlie Appleby-trained Lazuli, who claimed Group Three glory at Newmarket on Saturday in the Betfair Palace House Stakes.
John Quinn is one of three trainers doubly represented after entering talented fillies Keep Busy and Liberty Beach.
Charlie Hills has claimed the last two renewals of the race with Battaasb, and while the multiple Group One scorer is not among this year’s entries the Lambourn handler could still be represented by Garrus.
Nigel Tinkler's Group Two Flying Childers winner Ubettabelieveit and Tim Easterby's Group Three Cornwallis victor Winter Power represent the three-year-old generation.
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