I will be staying over in Lambourn tonight (Friday) ahead of Lockinge Day at Newbury mainly because I will be riding work for Andrew Balding tomorrow morning (Saturday) before racing. One of the reasons I signed the deal to be retained rider for King Power was to get the chance to ride nice horses on the big days and Saturday is just the kind of day I hoped I might have. I ride five lovely horses for King Power for a mixture of yards and have a leading chance in the big race itself. I’m just so sad that Vichai (Srivaddhanaprabha) isn’t around to enjoy a day like it! I am hoping we can have some success and do him proud.
JUNIUS BRUTUS (1.50pm Newbury – Shalaa Carnavon Stakes)
I start off aboard Junius Brutus who I ride for the first time in the Listed Carnavon Stakes. He lost his form a little at the back end of last season and here’s hoping that being gelded will put him back on track. If he can return to some of his best form, then he has a chance, but this does look a hot race. Moyassar looked really impressive when bolting up at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and a 9lb rise may not be enough to stop him on that form.
PIVOINE (2.25pm Newbury – Al Rayyan Stakes)
Another ride for King Power, but Pivoine looks to have his work cut out a bit here. He was well beaten behind Crystal Ocean at Sandown last time and we are hoping that the combination of a 5lb pull at the weights and the step up in trip will help. It should help bridge the gap, but the reality is that last year’s winner will again be very hard to beat.
GOOD BIRTHDAY (3.00pm Newbury – London Gold Cup)
A race that usually throws up a fast improver on his way to better things and I am hoping that this year that might be Good Birthday. He won nicely at Doncaster on his reappearance and he still seems to be improving. That said, he will need to be as he is 8lbs higher at the weights. I’m hoping we haven’t seen the best of him yet and he should be competitive. Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone won nicely last time and looks progressive while the top two Headman and Forest Of Dean look likely players too.
BEAT THE BANK (3.40pm Newbury – Lockinge Stakes)
The big race of the day is the Group One Lockinge Stakes where I ride Beat The Bank for Andrew Balding. I was delighted with the way he won at Sandown last time (pictured in blue) and a repeat of that performance should put him right in the mix here. If you look back at his form last season, he was a bit disappointing in this race but unlucky in the Queen Anne Stakes. Her may just have needed the race last year, so the fact that he has had a prep race is a positive. He handles the ground and I’m excited about getting back aboard him. As for the dangers, Le Brivido looks the obvious one for Aidan O’Brien. We know he is high class on his day, and he is lightly raced. Karl Burke’s filly Laurens is a special horse too and she has had plenty of racecourse gallops so will be fit.
QUEEN POWER (4.50pm Newbury – Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial)
My best chance of a winner on the day could well be Queen Power for Sir Michael Stoute. She was only just touched off at Ascot last time and the step up in trip will help her too. If she has come on for that run, as I think she has, she should take some beating even against some smart fillies. She is a filly we like a lot and I am excited about riding her again.
JACKPOT ROYALE (5.25pm Newbury)
The last ride of the afternoon is for Mick Appleby and, if I’m honest, I don’t know too much about Jackpot Royale who I ride for the first time. He won three handicaps last season, including one here at Newbury, and is an interesting runner. If you put a line through his last run, there are plenty of grounds for optimism.
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