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"I’ll ride him like the best horse in the race"

15 Oct 2015

So, it’s been a pretty good week all in all. I brought up the half-century on Friday night and then Sheikh Fahad rang me on Monday to tell me the news that I would be taking a greater role for Qatar Racing next year.

So, it’s been a pretty good week all in all. I brought up the half-century on Friday night and then Sheikh Fahad rang me on Monday to tell me the news that I would be taking a greater role for Qatar Racing next year. I am really looking forward to the new challenge and will hopefully be able to repay the faith both the Sheikh and David Redvers have put in me.

Firstly, though, we have the small matter of QIPCO British Champions Day! The racing is absolutely fantastic, with stars in every race. I mean even the top-weights in the Balmoral would be capable of mixing it at Group level. It’s so not so long that I was watching this day on TV at home and to be going in this year with three live chances is brilliant and a great credit to my new agent.

In the opening Long Distance Cup I’m back on Litigant. He’s not got the best draw in stall 12 but I hope to get him settled in behind the leaders and ride him like the best horse in the race. Joe Tuite feels he’s improved from the Ebor, he’s fresh coming into the race and it’s fantastic to be riding him.

Gabriel’s Lad has to have a very good chance in the closing Balmoral Handicap and although he’s got to prove he’s as effective at a mile as six/seven furlongs, he may well have come on for his Victoria Cup run (narrow second) despite a five pound rise. I spoke to Denis Coakley’s Head Lad the other day and they’re very pleased with him.

I’m also very fortunate to have kept the ride on Lightning Spear in such a prestigious race as the Champion Stakes. The ground is probably as easy as he would want it and I will be settling him in at his first try at a mile and a quarter.

Jack Hobbs is clear on ratings and if he runs up to his best form he’ll take a lot of beating. John Gosden tends to be a bit of a master with this kind of horse.

The QEII looks stunning and is as strong a Group 1 as you’ll ever find! If Gleneagles turns up he’s the one that I’d like to be on. Obviously I have a lot of respect for Solow as the best miler in Europe, but he has been on the go a while this year, and Gleneagles may just be able to improve past him. The main danger could come from Territories. I think he’s been a bit forgotten about as a proven Group 1 winner with a killer turn of foot.

Also don’t rule out Elm Park as Andrew Balding is confident that he’s got him right back to his best. It should be a belter of a race!

In the Sprint I’d love to be on Strath Burn and would choose him over everything else in the race. He has an awful lot of ability and has more improvement than any other horse coming into the race. I actually rode him in a gallop the week before his Sprint Cup second and he pulled 20 lengths clear of a black-type horse! I also think another Qatar horse, Simple Verse, has a massive chance in the fillies’ race. She’s still lightly raced and improving, while Covert Love is coming back quickly after a hard race in the Opera.

I’d like to close by saying a massive congratulations to both Silvestre de Sousa and either Jack Garrity or Tom Marquand, who will be crowned Champion Jockey and Champion Apprentice respectably.

Silvestre is a top-class rider who works very hard and is great to be around in the weighing room. We often sit next to each other and he’s never too high or too low. Both Jack and Tom have done fantastically and regardless of who comes out on top they’ll both do very well next season