Just back from a good afternoon at Haydock with two winners from my four rides. Welcoming proved just as effective on the heavy ground as she has been on the quicker surface with a really comfortable success in the fillies novice stakes and she remains a really good prospect for Clive (Cox). Later in the afternoon Alemaratalyoum stayed on in really game fashion to pip Crownthorpe in the mile handicap.
From the north to the south on Saturday and I’m delighted to have three rides on Champions Day at Ascot.
Needless to say, the racing is hugely competitive and the ground is expected to be soft. Clerk of the course Chris Stickels isn’t expecting any more rain and, if anything, there might be a slight improvement in the ground overnight.
HARRY ANGEL (2.00pm Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes)
Fingers crossed things go better for him at the start. It’s been a frustrating season and I just want to see him have the chance to show his true form – for him more than anything else. We’re back at Ascot where he had that freak incident in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and all chance was blown at the start with his leg getting caught on the backboard. Since then, he has finished sixth to The Tin Man in the 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes and that one (winner of this two years ago) re-opposes today.
He was very keen in the Haydock race and we need him to settle kinder. He’s doing some good work at home and is still a relatively fresh horse this season. The ground isn’t a problem but if it dries – even better. We don’t think there is anything in the Ascot factor. Whilst he hasn’t won here (yet) he’s run some big races in defeat including fourth in this last year. As always in these Group 1 sprints, everything is a danger as the margins are so incredibly tight.
ALJAZZI (3.15pm Queen Elizabeth II Stakes)
If you take Roaring Lion out of the race it’s actually a wide open renewal on ratings alone. Aljazzi will be one of the outsiders but if she’s in the same kind of form as she was at the Royal Ascot meeting I’m hopeful of a good spin. She quickened well in June to win the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes.
This is obviously a much bigger test on different ground. She has handled soft ground as she made a winning debut on it at Newmarket but most of her racing career has come on a quicker surface. She was tried at Group 1 level last time out in the Sun Chariot Stakes but was only seventh to Laurens so clearly needs to find improvement with that one in opposition again.
Champion Stakes (3.50pm)
I’ve no ride in the Champion Stakes itself but the ground looks to have come right again for Cracksman. He romped home by seven lengths last year and like a lot of Mr Gosden’s today looks to have outstanding claims.
ESCOBAR (4.30pm Balmoral Handicap)
All three of his career wins have been on quicker ground and he’s yet to win off his current mark. I was on him when he finished 10th here a couple of weeks ago and he has plenty to find with a few on that run, including the race winner Raising Sand.
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