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The heat is on at Royal Ascot

19 Jun 2017

Oisin Murphy rides down to the start at Royal Ascot

It’s not just the temperatures which have been rising in the past few days- you can feel the excitement brimming for yet another quality Royal Ascot week!

In a nutshell it’s the most important week’s racing of the year, and to have a winner at Royal Ascot is special for any jockey, trainer or owner. So naturally, I’m very disappointed to be missing the opening day, but I’ll be raring to go and looking to make up for it during the rest of the week.

Once the royal procession is done, all eyes will be on the Queen Anne Stakes, our opener for Royal Ascot 2017. And what a race to begin with. Obviously the favourite Ribchester is hotter than the current climate but a horse I know very well, Lightning Spear, looks to have an outstanding chance against him. The ground will definitely be more favourable for him than the Al Shaqab Lockinge where he ran a blinder despite it being a bit slow. There also looks to be plenty of pace in the race, which again will suit him for sure. He’ll have improved for the run last time too so I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t at least give Richard Fahey’s superstar something to think about.

The Sprinter’s will be on show in the King’s Stand, and it’s pretty obvious that Lady Aurelia is the one they’re all going to have to get past. There’ll be no complications in-running for her as the plan will be to get out in front from the beginning and burn her rivals off. She’d be the obvious choice in the race for any jockey and she’s got bags and bags of pace so will take a bit of beating.  It’s no foregone conclusion however, I thought Marsha’s performance at Newmarket carrying a penalty was out of this world, she’s improved this year and it’d be a fantastic result for Sir Mark Prescott if she can do it and I hope she does.

There’s been a lot of talk and debate this week about the battle between Churchill and Barney Roy in the St James’s Palace Stakes, however, and I might be wrong with this, but I don’t think there will be any battle! Churchill accounted for Barney Roy comfortable enough in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, and I think he’s the best horse in the race. He’s quite like Gleneagles in a way and will just do enough to get the job done, and I’m sure he will do again on Tuesday.

So Wednesday I will be back on course, and if things go to plan and with some luck it could be a really good day for me as I’ve got a cracking book of rides.

Beat The Bank is my mount in the opener. We think he could be a decent horse having recorded a decent figure at Newmarket. Watching him at home, his work has been very good, and I’m very pleased that Andrew Balding has let me keep the ride for this one. He deserves his place in the race and I’m hoping for a good spin on him.

Out Of The Flames has a superb draw, right near the pace horses in the race. She’s a very, very good filly. The plan with her will be to not let her get out in front too early as she tends to get lonely, so timing will be crucial on my part. I think she’ll run a big race.

Opal Tiara should not be the odds she is, she’s a high class filly who we all think highly of. The make-up of the race will suit her with plenty of runners. She is straightforward enough and will want to be ahead of affairs, so luck won’t be too much of a factor. I think the going will be very quick this week and that’s going to suit her perfectly.

Hors De Combat has been knocking on the door recently in big handicaps and he certainly deserves to win one eventually. Whether Wednesday will be his day I’m not sure as there could be something well handicapped in such a big field. The horse that wins will need some luck in running for sure, and hopefully I’ll get it.

Really Special is a fantastic ride to have for Saeed Bin Suroor to end the day with. I’ve ridden her before over in Dubai and she’s had a break since then. She is one of the better fillies in the race and I’m hopeful she’ll run really well.

I don’t have a ride in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but a quick word on the day 2 feature. I spoke on here before the Investec Epsom Derby Festival about how highly I rate Highland Reel. He’s a flagship horse, and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. In my opinion he should be talked about in the same way St Nicholas Abbey used to be. I don’t think he’ll get beaten on Wednesday. He’ll love the course, he’s very straightforward and I see him galloping them all into the ground once again.

Thursday I ride Mother Of Dragons in the opener. There were excuses for her defeat last time but we were still disappointed she didn’t win. However, we’ve been happy with her at home and Joseph Tuite’s horses are flying so hopefully she’ll go well.

Benbatl ran a nice race coming 5th in the Investec Derby, so I’m pleased to take the ride again in race 2. We’re happy to come back to 10 furlongs with him and he must have a favourite’s chance so long as the Derby didn’t take too much out of him.

Rich Legacy was a bit disappointing last time at Chester where perhaps she wasn’t suited to the course. Ralph Becket knows how to train these type of fillies and perhaps she’ll surprise a few.

In the Gold Cup I’ve got a very nice ride once again on Simple Verse. She’s jumping out of her skin at home and can’t wait to get on with the job. It looks like it will be a big field this year which means I’m going to need some luck with the draw. We think she’ll get 2 and a half miles and she deserves her place as 2nd favourite after Vazirabad came out.

Son Of The Stars ran a super race at Newmarket, he was perhaps a little short of experience that day- he should’ve learnt plenty from that. He’s worked to a high level at home and has an outstanding chance in the Britannia Stakes. He’s straightforward like most of Richard Hannon’s so I’m exciting about getting aboard.

In the last I ride Drochaid who I won on at Epsom on Investec Derby Day. He’s going up in trip and I think it’s well within his reach. My main task will be getting him to relax, he’s a horse that wants to go forward but he’s better slotting in behind one or two. If I can do that, and the draw is kind he’d certainly be in with a chance.

Horse To Follow: Carouse

By Excelebration, he was beaten half a length at Chester. Should have no problem winning next time out.