Looking back at last week, I guess it’s great on reflection to be riding such nice horses and to have ridden a winner at the most prestigious flat meeting there is. Of course, there were a few disappointments. There always will be. There will be other days for the likes of Fox Tal who was just too keen throughout his race. He is better than that, and will show it.
The highlight of the week has to be Art Power who was brilliant in the Palace Of Hollyroodhouse Stakes (the grey pictured on the right). He is such an exciting prospect and it was a relief that he delivered on the big stage and gave King Power racing such a deserved success. The ground had dried out a lot by Saturday, and that certainly didn’t help be Bielsa in the Wokingham Stakes. It was also his first run for a long time and things just didn’t go his way. He’s another who is better than he showed and hopefully will prove himself on another day.
I travel to Newcastle on Saturday for their Northumberland Plate meeting and have four rides to look forward to. No news of any potential Derby ride to report to you at this stage, but with just over a week to go fingers crossed something may pop up…
SUMMER ESCAPE (12.15pm)
I don’t know too much about Summer Escape who I ride in the one mile novice’ event. This is his first start for new connections having left the William Haggas yard and he has also been gelded. Despite the fact that he disappointed on his only start at Lingfield, it is interesting to note that he was well fancied that day, so he must have shown something at home. Hopefully he can take a big step forward here, but he may just have to to beat Charlie Hills’ Tilsit who was only just touched off on his debut here.
FOX CHAMPION (1.50pm)
One of the featured races of the day is the Chipchase Stakes where I ride Fox Champion (pictured) for King Power racing. If I’m honest, he’s been a bit disappointing this season and hasn’t shown us much in both of his two starts to date. Don’t forget this time last year he was winning the German 2000 Guineas so his recent runs have been well below that level of form. He finished in the middle of the pack in last week’s Royal Hunt Cup and will have to step up dramatically on that run. Admittedly, things didn’t necessarily go to plan that day and he was checked up a few times. However, he will definitely need to improve to take a hand here with the big drop-in trip to contend with too. We know that there is talent under the bonnet, it’s just a question of getting him to put his best foot forward. Sir Michael Stoute’s Mubakker looks the obvious one on paper, but don’t ignore Kevin Ryan’s pair. Both Brando and Major Jumbo are hugely talented on their day and will surely be involved in the finish.
COWBOY SOLDIER (2.25pm)
Next up I ride Cowboy Soldier for Robert Cowell in the sprint handicap. He was a little disappointing on his return to action at Doncaster last time and will need to improve to take a hand here. That said, he won on his only start at this track so that has to be a big positive. Hopefully the return to this artificial surface will spark him back into life. Magical Spirit looks like he could still be ahead of the handicapper while top weight Copper Knight should go well again. He was second in this last year and won it the year before, so we know the conditions of the race suit. He has a high draw too against the stand side rail, so that could be advantageous.
FINANCIAL CONDUCT (3.35pm – Northumberland Plate)
If the betting is to be believed, I have absolutely no chance of winning the Northumberland Plate aboard Charlie Mann’s Financial Conduct. He was involved in a nasty spill at this track on his reappearance earlier in the month, where he unseated his rider. Hopefully he’ll have a bit more luck today and on the best bits of his past form he definitely seems to be on a fair mark. However, he will need to show a lot more than he shown in recent starts to take a hand in what looks a really competitive renewal. Roger Varian’s Australis looks unexposed whilst the likes of Carnwennan and Smart Champion are bound to be contenders.