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Feeling Flush for Royal Ascot

13 Jun 2016

Oisin Murphy Ascot

Merry Royal Ascot Eve everyone! With eight British Champions Series races run over the next five days there’s so much to get excited about and I’m thrilled to have so many good rides to look forward to.

The only mood-killer is that the ground looks like it will be softer than expected’ll be close to heavy come tomorrow which won’t suit many, but “that’s racing” as they say and I and the other jockey’s will all do our best to adapt tactically to the soft conditions. With the weather playing havoc I’ll do my best to run you through my rides for the first three days of the meeting.

I kick-off in the Queen Anne where I’m booked to ride Lightning Spear. Unfortunately, he won’t have the conditions to suit him as he prefers a sound surface. He’s a horse with bundles of potential and given it’s his first run under David Simcock, it’ll be interesting to see how far he’s come on. But I’d ideally like to be sitting on him with a lot less juice in the ground.
One horse who really won’t mind the soft ground will be Pearl Secret in the King’s Stand. He ran a super race first time out at Haydock to finish fourth behind tomorrow’s two market principals in Mecca’s Angel and Profitable and I feel strongly that he’ll come on for the run. Add in that he’ll relish the soft conditions and I think he’s in with a good shout of being there or thereabouts at the business end of the race.
Tuesday’s fun doesn’t end there as I ride Hassle in the Ascot Handicap for National Hunt specialist Dr Richard Newland. This’ll be the first time he tackles 2 miles 4 furlongs but he’s by Montjeu so I’m hopeful that neither stamina nor the soft ground will be an issue. He won last time out at Fakenham in April so he’ll be nicely tuned up for a big day out and the trainer is well known for getting them ready for the big occasion.
My final ride of the day is Ready to Roc in the Windsor Castle. To be honest this race looks about as hard to call as it gets. Most of those running will never have faced conditions anywhere near as soft as this so the formbook looks pretty hard to trust. What I do know is that my mount finished behind the Coventry Stakes favourite Caravaggio last time out but his trainer Johnny Murtagh (who knows a thing or two about winning at Royal Ascot!) was convinced that he didn’t do himself justice that day and he expects him to outrun his big price by some distance.

I’m booked to ride the Royal Hunt Cup on Mr. Owen and I must be honest I can’t understand the odds of 25/1 that are being quoted for him one bit! He ran a cracker last time out to finish just behind Ervedya at Saint-Cloud and when you consider she’s now at the top of the market for the Queen Anne, you’ve got to think my boy should be a much shorter price in handicap company. Based on that run alone he looks like the proverbial group horse in handicap company and I think we’re in with a really terrific chance of hitting the frame.
I finish the day in the Sandringham handicap aboard Opal Tiara for Mick Channon. Mick’s horses are flying at the moment and anything he saddles seems to turn to gold. This looks a super competitive affair but she ran a good race last time out at Leicester and was deemed good enough to run in the 1000 Guineas; so she must have shown a fair bit of talent on the gallops and I’m sure connections will be expecting big things on the day.

With the weather being as unpredictable as it is at the minute I’d be loath to talk with much confidence about what’ll be running on Thursday but I’ll do my best!
One horse who needs good ground is my provisional ride in the Tercentenary Stakes, Imperial Aviator. He hated the soft conditions at Chantilly when he ran in the French Derby, so I’d be inclined to think that if the going description came out with any soft in it that he’d likely bypass this race. That said, if the ground does miraculously dry out to be good on the day then he’d be in with a great shout. His trainer Roger Charlton knows exactly what it takes to win the race and this horse has a very similar profile to last year’s winner Time Test.
It’s also a big day for me as I’ll be riding in the prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot for the first time aboard the beast that is Pallasator. His win at Sandown over Burmese and Max Dynamite was very impressive when you think he was also giving away 4lbs. Sir Mark Prescott’s tactical masterstroke to drop him in worked a treat so I’ll be very keen to hear what the maestro has to say to me in the preliminaries this time around! If we can keep a lid on him in the morning and get him settled on the way down to the start, then I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t the frame come the winning post as he has so much talent.
I round off what will hopefully be a memorable three days on Manson in the Britannia. The form of his win at Sandown has worked out very well with the second placed White Poppy winning well for me at Salisbury last week. This looks an excellent spare ride to pick up and at a large price I think he looks great value for a big run.