Looking to land a winner on Coral Eclipse Day
30 Jun 2016
The dust may have settled from Royal Ascot but with so many top notch meetings still to come I’ve got more than enough on my plate to look forward to.
I’ve been keeping myself busy over the last couple of weeks, riding out in the mornings for a huge amount of yards and have caught up with a few of the horses that ran well for me at Royal Ascot.
For starters I saw the talented Lightning Spear yesterday at David Simcock’s. He wasn’t far away from getting me off to the ultimate Royal Ascot flyer in the Queen Anne Stakes and, having sat on him yesterday morning, I can tell you first hand that he’s in great shape for a summer campaign. He’s very lightly raced for a five-year-old and it wouldn’t surprise me if they chose to run him again soon. Next weekend’s Summer Mile at Ascot could be the race if conditions are right and the trainer is happy with him. I finished second on him in the race last season to Arod and if he runs I’d have high hopes we could go one better this time.
Another Ascot performer who I saw earlier in the week is Ralph Beckett’s exciting two-year-old filly Bletchley. She ran a cracker to finish runner-up in the Albany Stakes and now really looks a million dollars at home. We’re excited to see how she runs next time out and it hopefully won’t be too long before we see her again.
My other standout performer at the Royal meeting was La Rioja. She improved a great deal from her first run of the season at Haydock to then finish fourth in the Commonwealth Cup to Quiet Reflection. I like her a lot and think that the best is very much still to come. Henry Candy’s horses often improve the longer the summer goes on, and she’s not ground dependant so she has lots of options in the next month or so.
Looking ahead to Saturday at Sandown, I’ve got five rides to look forward to and the one that gets me buzzing the most is getting aboard the monster that is Pallasator in the Coral Marathon. Things just didn’t go his way in the Gold Cup; we’d have liked to have been a little closer to the pace as all the bumping around that happened in the scrum behind really didn’t suit him at all. He may look like the biggest brute in training but he didn’t appear to relish the scrap and I’ll be doing my best to keep him out of trouble this time.
Aside from Pallasator I have four other rides to look forward to. I start with Bernie’s Boy in the opening Handicap for Andrew Balding; he’s a straightforward type who’ll hopefully run to his best. This does look a very competitive affair and I expect it to get pretty testing for him at the business end of the race.
In the Coral Charge I get the leg up for the first time on Robert Cowell’s Iffranesia. He’s a fairly seasoned campaigner who’s been running in Group One company and this drop in grade will clearly be to his benefit. He’s by Iffraaj and has won on yielding ground so the likely good to soft conditions won’t bother him at all.
Following the speedsters, I’m up on board Melvin the Great in the Coral Challenge Handicap. He’s been pretty tricky to settle in the past but has got a nice big frame on him and will outrun his lengthy odds if I can get him to behave himself.
Finally, I get another crack on Australian Queen in the Distaff. She’s been running in very high class races like the Musidora Stakes and the Investec Oaks so owner Jeff Smith and trainer David Elsworth must think a lot of her. You’d struggle to find a better judge of a horse’s potential than those two and following a pleasing third at Salisbury last week, I’d like to think she’ll run well.
I sadly will be missing out on a ride in the Coral Eclipse but if I had to choose a winner I’d side with The Gurkha. He comes into the race with proven form on sticky ground and, with all the rain we’ve had, I think he ought to get conditions to suit him. Time Test is a very classy type but probably needs firm in the going description to run to his best form.
My Dream Boat can by no means be discounted as has the best soft-ground form of the entire field having won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but will need to improve again if he’s to concede 11lbs to The Gurkha and still get his nose in front.
Horse to follow: BROROCCO – A three-year-old half-brother to Elm Park trained by Andrew Balding; he got over a nightmare slow start last time at Beverley to finish a creditable second. If we can get the penny to drop in the stalls and get him to make a clean break, then we ought to be seeing some black type against his name in the not so distant future.