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A Classic end to an amazing week in the saddle

8 Sep 2016

Oisin Murphy St Leger Blog

What a whirlwind week it’s been since my last blog! An amazing Group Two winner in Turkey last Sunday with the plucky Blonde Me, before one of my best day ever in the saddle with back-to-back Group two winners today at Doncaster!

This time of the year is pretty relentless, but I honestly couldn’t be happier with how everything is going and I’m just so lucky to be able to ride such lovely horses for a wide team of trainers.

My only spin at Doncaster tomorrow is aboard a very familiar face in La Rioja. She’s a talented filly who certainly deserves her place in a race like the Sceptre Stakes and I was very pleased with her the last time I exercised her at Kempton a couple of weeks ago.

The favourite Nemoralia does look a tough nut to crack but one thing I would say is that the more rain that comes, the better La Rioja will perform. I’m confident she’ll see out the trip, she has proven form on soft ground and there are definite question marks about the market leaders on anything softer than good.

I sadly don’t have a ride in this year’s Doncaster Cup but I think it looks an ultra-competitive affair. The Lonsdale Cup winner Quest For More got an easy lead at York last time and I don’t think George Baker will be allowed to repeat that trick again here. I was the only one who followed him that day on Pallasator and I think if another contender serves it up to him early down the long home straight at Doncaster he might struggle to see out his race as strongly as he did a couple of weeks ago.

While the Doncaster Cup unfolds I’ll be mid-air whizzing down to Salisbury for a bumper five rides. It’s a track that I really enjoy riding at as it’s very unique and a real test of a jockey’s skills.

The horse that sticks out of my book is Ralph Beckett’s two-year-old-filly Singing Sands. She’s shown lots of talent at home and this looks the right race for her to get her first win under rules. It’s certainly worth racking up the air miles when you know you’re going to sit on a good horse like her.

The final race on the card in which I ride Roger Varian’s New World Power also looks one to keep a close eye on.

He’s a beautifully bred colt by Japanese Champion Deep Impact and should definitely benefit from a decent layoff. He was far too keen when most recently seen at Sandown and hopefully the time off has given him the chance to mature at home. Roger’s horses are running well at the moment and I expect a bold show.

After the lights go out at Salisbury I’m back up to Doncaster for a very busy Saturday. I kick-off in the first with the talented Son of Africa. Henry Candy’s team think a lot of him but it’s been a long process to work out just what distance and tactics will get the best out of him.

He won well two starts ago at Sandown when produced late on and was only a couple of lengths adrift of the winner in the Beverley Bullet after a slow start. He’ll need a little luck in running but if we can get him settled in behind horses expect to see him outrun his large price.

Next up I ride in the big race of the week, the Ladbrokes St Leger. Classic rides don’t come around very often so I’ll be doing my best to make the most of the occasion. The Aidan O’Brien trio dominate the market and I wouldn’t be surprised to see team tactics come into play. I expect the Queen’s Vase Winner Sword Fighter to make the running but I don’t think they’ll want the race to be too strong a gallop.

My ride Ormito may have a lot to find on official ratings, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have plenty going for him. The forecast rain will play to his strengths and I’ll ride him with the aim of saving a bit for a strong finish. One thing my lad does is stay and we’ll try to pick off as many as we can in the home straight. There have been quite a few big-priced winners of this race in the past and if the ground comes up soft then Idaho will not be the sure thing he looks on paper.

Once the Leger dust settles I ride Drochaid in the Nursery Handicap. He’s a big shell of a horse and should have filled nicely into his frame by now. He’s not badly handicapped and I’ll be doing my best to get the most out of him for the Mariscotti family who have been big supporters of mine over the years.

After that I’m reunited with an old friend in Dinkum Diamond. I ride him at home a lot and his work on the gallops has always impressed me. At his age it can be a little tricky to keep him interested but I did score on him at this venue a couple of years ago and I’m hoping a return to Doncaster will spark him into life. He ran creditably last time out at York when stepping up to a mile for the first time and if he doesn’t pull to hard early doors then he should outrun his big odds.

My penultimate ride is aboard Mark Johnstone’s Kiltara. She’s bred beautifully out of Lawman and a Saddler’s Wells mare so she should appreciate the forecast cut in the ground. Mark Johnston always has his horses fighting fit so the signs are there that she should run well.

Finally, I ride Argus in the lucky last. He hs his first run of the year at York last month and I was really pleased with how he ran that day. He’s a talented lad and his three wins last season showed him to be very progressive.

Although this small field will be no doubt be competitive, I’m very hopeful that he’ll be able to take a step forward again and could well turn out to be the proverbial group horse in handicap company.