Saturday was a bit of a frustrating day with all my horses running well without winning. Things didn’t go right for Stone Of Destiny in the opener but he ran on well to finish fourth, while I was delighted with the way Well Done Fox ran to fill the same position in the Palace House. That was a big step forward from what he showed last season and he is one to look forward to for the rest of this campaign.
As for Queen Power she ran an absolute cracker in the Dahlia Stakes and just bumped into a very smart filly in Terebellum. However, the highlight of the day has to be Kameko’s win in the 2000 Guineas and I am so pleased for Andrew and his team to have landed the big one. He beat some really smart colts in impressive fashion and heads to the Derby now as the one to beat.
It’s 1000 Guineas day at Newmarket on Sunday afternoon but I am heading to Haydock for a whole host of rides on a card that features the rearranged Brigadier Gerard Stakes. There is plenty of rain about at Haydock so keep an eye out for ground changes and also plenty of likely non-runners. These are my thoughts on my book of rides as well as the 1000 Guineas itself…
ALTERNATIVE FACT (12.55pm)
My first ride of the afternoon is Alternative Fact for Ed Dunlop in the opening 10-furlong contest. I won on him at Newmarket at the back end of last season and he is 4lbs higher in the weights this afternoon. He’d previously run well in the Cambridgeshire and looks to be improving with age. I suppose the issue is he meets some useful types here in what looks a really competitive race. However, the ground was soft when he won at Newmarket so if the rain continues to fall, that won’t bother him at all. With John Gosden’s team running so well, you have to respect the chances of Harrovian and William Haggas’ Country is another huge danger.
If I’m honest, I don’t know too much about Walkonby who I ride for the first time in the next. She was fairly consistent as a juvenile winning on a couple of occasions and the soft ground may just have caught her out on her last two starts. She has won twice on a sound surface so a lot of rain could be a worry. She could be better than her mark of 71 and I’m hopeful she can out run her odds. That said, there look to be some unexposed types in this with a lightly raced bunch of Kipps, Oleksander and London Arch all looking above average.
SHAILENE (2.05pm Betway Pinnacle Stakes Group 3)
The first of the Group race action where I ride Shailene for Andrew Balding in the Pinnacle Stakes. There are only the six runners, but what the race lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. My mare is good on her day and we won a nice race in Italy together last summer. This will require more though, but with the Balding stable in such good form she may just surprise a few. She is one who may not want too much rain either. John Gosden is another trainer in red-hot form and his filly Fanny Logan looks the one to beat – despite her 3lb penalty. She seems equally effective on any ground.
BANGKOK NON RUNNER (2.40pm Betway Brigadier Gerard Stakes Group 3)
I had hoped to be riding Bangkok in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, but he won’t now take his chance. His stablemate Pivoine is also a non-runner so with Spotify also out, a 10 runner field is down to 6. That is always the danger with 72 hour declarations, but it still should be a decent looking race. Elarqam goes well when the mud is flying so won’t mind any rain and you also have to respect Sangarius who I chased home at Royal Ascot last season aboard Fox Chairman.
HAPPY POWER (3.15pm Betway Spring Trophy Stakes Listed Race)
Next up I ride Happy Power (pictured below) again for Andrew Balding and King Power racing. He hasn’t been seen since finishing behind King Of Change in last season’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The ground was really bad that day and he didn’t run at all badly to finish sixth and would probably have finished even closer if it hadn’t had been heavy. He has always been a colt we thought a lot of and I’m convinced we’ve yet to really see the best of him. The rain won’t inconvenience him too much as he has won on the soft before and he should go close. Space Blues is better than he showed last time and looks the obvious one and the worse conditions get, I suppose the better the chances for Safe Voyage. It looks a really good contest but Happy Power would be my best chance of a winner on the day.
YOLO AGAIN (4.25pm Betway EBF Cecil Frail Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race)
I’ve only ridden Yolo Again once before when well beaten at Chester last May. She has had plenty of goes since and despite winning twice since (both on the all-weather) she looks to have her work cut out here in Listed class. That said, trainer Roger Fell has started the season in good form and she ran well at Newmarket on soft ground when last seen in action last October. Ed Walker’s Royal Intervention and John Quinn’s Liberty Beach look the obvious ones.
My final ride of the afternoon is I’lletyougonow for David Pipe in the 10 furlong handicap. She used to be trained by Mick Channon and I finished second on her at Windsor last October on soft ground. She had one go over hurdles in January and switches back to the flat with cheekpieces on for the first time. I am hoping she will enjoy returning to a level surface and I’m hopeful for a bold show.
1000 Guineas (3.35pm)
The big race of the day at Newmarket is the 1000 Guineas and the obvious one on paper looks to be the Aidan O’Brien-trained Love with Ryan Moore in the saddle. However, the one for me has to be Quadrilateral for Roger Charlton. The unbeaten daughter of Frankel got better with every start last season and looks the one to beat.
Enjoy the action.