Time for some Horseplay at Epsom!
1 Jun 2017
Come 4pm on Saturday the weighing room at Epsom will have a very different atmosphere to any weighing room on any raceday in the year; it’s unbelievable! The Investec Derbyfsqzvqbsdrrsudaarqvyfqtswwda is where it’s at, and if there’s one race I’d like to win this year it’s this one- and I think all of my colleagues would say exactly the same. But more on that later, first of all we’ve got The Investec Oaks Day on Friday, and I’m pretty excited about my ride in that too.
I’m aboard Horseplay for boss Andrew Balding in the big one. I rode her out on the course at Breakfast With The Stars as we wanted her to get a feel for the track at Epsom. She handled it as well as any of us could of expected and this gives me more confidence that she can run a big race on Friday. She has been in super order at home and finished off her last piece of work really well. The draw has been kind to us too with stall 3. We’re all confident she’s gonna stay the trip well and handle the track without a problem. Andrew Balding’s horses tend to go well at Epsom, he has a very good strike right there so that’s another tick in the box. She’s certainly got to improve from her last run, but we think this will come with the step up in trip. I’m very excited about her in all honesty.
There are plenty of dangers in the race, as it looks as good a Group 1 as you get. Sobetsu won really well over in France last time out for the boys in blue, and obviously the favourite Rhododendron has a very good profile. She ran a very good race in the 1,000 Guineas. She’s bred to stay every single yard of the mile and a half but also has a lot of speed in the locker. Those are the two standouts for me in a quality field, as you’d expect in The Oaks.
I haven’t managed to be quite so lucky draw wise with my Investec Derby mount Benbatl. Out of stall 16 my job will simply to make the best of it and try and get as good a position as possible from there. I haven’t spoken to Saeed Bin Suroor yet regarding tactics but he’ll give me my instructions in due course. He’s certainly in with a chance having run so well in the Dante at York last time, and he’s improved with every run so there’ll be more to come I’m sure. The question mark will be whether he stays the 12 furlongs, but he’s by Dubawi and lot’s of those stay that sort of distance. It’s a great opportunity to be involved in the most important race in the country in front of a packed grandstand.
Back to Friday. And the British Champions Series Investec Coronation Cup jumps off the racecard. It’s a really, really competitive Group 1, possibly the strongest Coronation Cup I can remember. It’s pretty cool to have the brothers in there at the top of the market, Idaho, and the wonderful Highland Reel. For me the favourite Highland Reel appeals most as the likely winner. He’s travelled the world, he’s outstanding, and the horse of dreams in my opinion!
I also ride Brorocco on Friday. He’s in super order at home, which is credit to Andrew Balding. The draw could’ve been a bit kinder to us, and we’ll need a bit of luck in running. But hopefully everything goes to plan on the day, cause he’s a fantastic ride to have.
One of my best chances comes on Saturday in the opener. Drochaid won nicely at Chelmsford last time out, and he’s on the improve with Andrew’s horses in good order. The only question is the track but that really shouldn’t pose a problem. I think he can go really well and get me off to a flying start on Derby Day!
I’ll be riding Here Comes When in the 3.10 Investec Diomed Stakes for Andrew. He gave me a great spin at York last time out, winning really well. He’s been a great old servant to the yard- I know him very well having ridden him a number of times. He’s stepping up in class this time but definitely has a good chance as long as he doesn’t get too wound up beforehand.
Desert Law has won the Dash before so we know he likes the course. The handicapper has put him up for his last outing, but not too much and so he is comes into this with a nice light weight. Obviously you need a lot of luck in running in the Dash- but I wouldn’t swap him for anything.
Elbereth will either be in the Coronation Cup on Friday or Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday. She’s a big robust filly which will help, often you find with the smaller fillys they’ll get intimidated in the big fields, but when you’re on a horse like her she’ll be the one doing the intimidating!
Murgon comes back off a lay-off and he’ll want the ground to stay good. Stuart Kittow does really well with his horses, he’s been really pleased with this one and thinks he’s fit and ready to go- although he’ll almost certainly improve for the run.
Horse To Follow: Natural, Doncaster 2.30pm
Natural, by Kodiac, is one to look out for first time out at Doncaster on Saturday. She’s going very well at home for Richard Hannon, who as we know is a master with his two-year-olds. They tend to improve for a run too, so she is certainly one to keep a lookout for and looks a really nice prospect.