All set for a big week in the saddle
16 Aug 2016
It’s a really busy time of the season and I’ve barely had a minute to let myself think since Goodwood. Fortunately, I’ve had a steady flow of winners over the last couple of weeks, including a nice Group 3 at Salisbury aboard Zonderland for Clive Cox, so I’m in a very good place at the minute and am confident I can continue that form into Ebor week.
I only have one ride tomorrow aboard Imperial Aviator in the Great Voltiguer Stakes but it’s one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while.
He’s a hugely talented horse who can be excused his poor run in the French Derby last time out.
Looking back at the race, we were nicely positioned near the front turning into the home straight at Chantilly when he took a bad false step and lost all momentum. I actually feared that he may have done himself some serious damage but thankfully he was OK and Roger Charlton has given him plenty of time to recover since then.
His other two runs this season have seen him beat Ulysses at Leicester and register an impressive four-length win in the London Gold Cup at Newbury. Those performances show that he’s got massive potential and, given how relatively unexposed he is, I think he’s very overpriced and could easily be in the frame at the business end of the race.
The big race of the day, the Juddmonte International, looks a very hot renewal with so many classy contenders on show. I’m gutted to not have a ride, but if I did I’d want to be on Highland Reel as I just think he’s a top class operator. He won the King George comfortably last time out and doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves in my opinion. He could prove his doubters wrong and confirm himself as a world class horse.
Anyway, by the time the Juddmonte finishes I’ll already be in the car on the long drive down to Kempton where I have three rides. One ride that sticks out in particular is Staffa for Denis Coakley in the closing handicap.
Denis has always been a great supporter of mine ever since I first began riding as an apprentice and hopefully I’ll be able to repay a little of that good faith with a good ride tomorrow night. Staffa hasn’t shown a great deal in his first three runs in maiden company but gets into his first handicap off a very low mark and is expected to put in a much improved performance.
Rolling onto Thursday, my schedule is a little busier on the Knavesmire with three rides booked. I kick-off with Angel Down for Henry Candy in the opener. He won easily enough at Windsor last time out and has shown enough quality on the gallops at home to suggest he’ll improve again come tomorrow. That said there are 19 other unexposed two-year-olds all vying for the same prize so it looks a super-competitive affair.
Once the dust settles I get the leg up on a seasoned-pro in Dinkum Diamond. He’s a horse I get on well with and I can tell you first hand that he’s been working exceptionally at home recently. We’re stepping up to a mile and into the unknown but he’s got class – I landed a listed race at Doncaster aboard him over two years ago – so I expect him to run well. We won’t know for sure whether he’ll run out of gas over a mile or not until we hit the two-furlong marker though!
The Darley Yorkshire Oaks looks a tight affair but I think Found is the one they all have to beat. She’s such a consistent performer and Seamie Heffernan knows her like the back of his hand. Her form against the colts stacks up as much the strongest in my opinion and I fancy the three-year-olds to be chasing her home.
Finally, I finish Thursday on Opal Tiara in the Fillies Handicap over seven furlongs. She last ran a little disappointingly at Goodwood but she never really got to grips with the track on the day and by the time the race got going she was far too far back to make much of an impression.
Her convincing win prior to that in a Listed race at Carlisle shows she belongs at this grade and I think she can be seen back to best effect over this trip on a big galloping track like York.
Horse to follow – ARGUE
Due to run at York on Friday, ground permitting. Will improve from his first run of the season and was highly progressive last year. I’m hopeful he can continue on the upward curve.