It’s great to be back riding again after serving my 10-day suspension and I didn’t do much if truth be told. It was just nice to have some time off at home with the family recharging my batteries – I’m now raring to go for the rest of the season. I missed plenty of winners whilst I was off, but that is just one of those things. Looking ahead to this weekend and it’s busy with rides at Ascot on Saturday and then I’m heading out to Longchamp to ride Winter Power in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Sunday….
UNDERTHEBOARDWALK – 1.30pm
My first ride of the afternoon is the lightly-raced Undertheboardwalk for Brian Meehan in the listed opener. She has only had the two starts having won one of them and this is a massive step up in class for her. On ratings, she has an awful lot to do against the likes of Highfield Princess, but we will give it our best shot and hope she is up to it.
KING OF STARS – 2.05pm
I am hoping the rain stays away for King of Stars (pictured below) who is set to line up in the five-furlong listed sprint. He gave me a really nice feel when he won at Yarmouth last time and is a progressive sprinter. The handicapper has had his say though, meaning he has to really be tried in races like this now. He is very speedy so wouldn’t want too much more rain as it blunts his speed. The race looks really hot though with Hurricane Ivor and Dakota Gold both catching the eye.
ALOUNAK – 2.40pm (Cumberland Lodge Stakes)
My first ride of the afternoon for King Power racing is Alounak in the Cumberland Lodge. He has been really consistent of late, having finished fourth, third and second on his last three starts. Judging by that he is due a win now! In all seriousness, his third place in the Ebor was a really good run considering the winner has gone on to land a Group 1 since. He was beaten at Chester last time but comes here in good form and should go well. Obviously Hukum has the form in the book too and sets the bar pretty high.
BIELSA – 3.15pm (Bengough Stakes)
It was great to see Bielsa finally deliver what we hoped he might in the Ayr Gold Cup last time. He steps up in class here into a Group 3 and he should hopefully go close if reproducing that Ayr form. If the rain does arrive then Glen Shiel looks the one to beat as his Ascot form looks particularly strong having won on Champions Day last season and narrowly missing out when second in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting.
SPOOF – 4.25pm
My final ride of the afternoon is Spoof for Charlie Hills in the five-furlong sprint handicap. He’s been dropped a pound by the handicapper since his last run and certainly won’t mind the rain if it arrives as he won in the mud at Windsor last August. However, this looks like a really competitive renewal, and he may need a bit more help from the handicapper. Looking at the others, Boundless Power looks like the one to beat on the back of a really good run in the Portland at Doncaster last time. He’s another who won’t mind the rain if it comes.
I’m off to Paris on Sunday for the Arc meeting with just the one ride…
WINTER POWER –4.25pm (Prix de l’Abbaye)
I suppose the big question for all of us will be how much rain falls over the weekend but I take comfort from the fact that Winter Power won well this time last year on soft ground at Newmarket. She just didn’t fire at the Curragh last time but if she can reproduce her Nunthorpe form (pictured below), she is bound to be in the mix. Looking at the others, Glass Slippers always goes will in this race and I have a lot of respect for the French filly Suesa.
3.05pm (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe)
The big race of the weekend is the Arc De Triomphe and sadly I will just be watching from the weighing room. It looks a mouth-watering clash and you can make a case out for so many of the runners. If I had to choose one it would be Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall. I know how much Frankie thought of her after her Oaks success and you can forgive her one below par run. If the rain comes in the quantity they are saying, it shouldn’t bother her either. Hurricane Lane was a great winner of the St Leger and his stamina will be a big factor too.