I suppose the obvious place to start is my appeal at Thursday’s disciplinary hearing to try and get my 15-day totting-up ban reduced triggered by last Saturday’s win in the Old Borough Cup aboard Island Brave. The panel have deferred five days of the suspension which will be triggered if I offend again over the next two months. They have held up the remaining ten days which means I will be off from next Friday and will sadly miss the Ayr Gold Cup and the Cambridgeshire meeting. It’s one of those things and the rules are the rules. I apologised for breaking those rules five times over the six month period and stressed to the hearing that a couple of those were a direct result of my shoulder injury – the weakness there at the time prevented me from reaching behind the saddle. Anyway, we move on, and I accept the punishment.
Before that, it was a real buzz winning the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster on Wednesday aboard Just Beautiful for Ivan Furtado. He has always been a real supporter of mine and it was particularly special to ride him his first Group winner. She isn’t that big a filly, but what she lacks in size, she more than makes up for in heart. She was really tough to battle back and see off Double Or Bubble and continues to improve. I have a big weekend ahead with two rides at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting on Saturday followed by a trip to Ireland to ride Winter Power on Sunday…
STONE OF DESTINY – 1.45pm (Portland Handicap)
My first ride of the afternoon is last year’s winner Stone Of Destiny (pictured below) who lines up again 7lbs higher than 12 months ago. He bounced back from a below par run at Ascot last month with a better showing at Haydock last weekend. The handicapper has also dropped him again so he is definitely getting back to a more workable mark. This is always a tough race and he may just be a little too high in the weights. There seems plenty of pace on our side with both King Of Stars and Justanotherbottle likely to go forward, so that should help. Looking at the others I expect Michael Dods’ Jawwaal to go well on the other side of the track as he has shaped well on both his last two starts. Also, I should mention the other King Power runner Premier Power. He has been tricky to train as he is a bit fragile but is a horse with plenty of ability if everything clicks.
2.20pm (Champagne Stakes)
No ride for me in the Champagne Stakes where the Queen’s hugely exciting Reach For The Moon will be favourite. If the rain comes, he has a massive chance, but if the ground stays quick Lusail will be a tough nut to crack.
3.00pm (Cazoo Park Stakes)
Another small field for the Park Stakes where Laneqash looks a worthy favourite after a good run last time. That said, if I could pick one it would be Glorious Journey who has been running consistently well this season. Also, don’t rule out the complete outsider Oh This Is Us who could run a lot better than people think.
3.35pm (Cazoo St Leger)
The big race of the day is the Cazoo St Leger and sadly I will be watching on from the weighing room. Hurricane Lane sets the bar really high and on form as well as breeding looks the one to beat. If he is to get turned over then it will likely be Mojo Star who finished in front of him in the Derby.
TESTON – 5.10pm
Finally, I ride Teston for Ivan Furtado in the last. He has had wind surgery since disappointing a bit here back in July and he is a good bit lower in the weights than when I last rode him. In fact, he is 12lbs lower than when we finished seventh behind Matthew Flinders at this meeting 12 months. Obviously, if he can repeat that level of form, he can be competitive, but he needs to bounce back. There look plenty of dangers but Cruyff Turn catches the eye.
On Sunday I fly over to the Curragh to ride Winter Power in the Group One…
WINTER POWER – 2.55pm (Derrinstown Stud Flying Five)
I’m really looking forward to sitting on Winter Power again as she lines up in the Flying Five at the Curragh on Sunday. She was breathtaking at York in the Nunthorpe (pictured below) and if she is in anywhere near that form, she should take some catching here. Tim reports that she is in good nick and has come out of that race well, so it’s all systems go.