The quality racing action comes thick and fast at this time of year and York’s three-day May meeting gets underway on Wednesday. My plan is to drive up on Wednesday morning, stay up there in the evening and then ride there again on Thursday – my wife Vicky says I am just looking at ways to get out of looking after the kids! Anyway, I won’t stay up there on Thursday night as I’ll be coming back to ride at Newmarket in the evening. Then it’s back up to York again on Friday for the last day of their meeting… no rest for the wicked! Anyway, here are my thoughts on my best chances over the next three days…
I start off aboard Caliburn who is having his first run for Andrew Balding in the opener (1.50pm) having left Hugo Palmer. I don’t know too much about him and this will be a big ask first up. Next up, I ride Sandra’s Secret for Les Eyre in the six-furlong handicap (2.25pm). I won on her over course and distance last summer and she is only 1lb higher. If you can put a line through her disappointing run last time, she has a squeak. No ride in the Duke Of York, but I ride I’ll Have Another in the Musidora (3.35pm). On paper she has it all to do against some good fillies, but you can never discount trainer Mark Johnston – there is a reason he is Britain’s most successful ever trainer. She was third to Maqsad at Newmarket last time and will need to step up here to trouble the leading fillies. One of my best chances on the opening day has to be Songkran who makes his handicap debut in the 4.05pm. He was a good second at Salisbury last time but has a bad draw to overcome in stall 17. My best chance of a winner is likely to be the newcomer Sun Power who runs in the Novice Stakes (4.35pm). The son of Night Of Thunder looks a nice type on paper and the stable are brilliant with their youngsters.
I’m really looking forward to riding Scottish Sprint Cup winner Saaheq for Mick Appleby in the opening sprint (1.50pm). Life will be tougher in a race like this from a 7lb higher mark and in an ideal world I’d probably like to have been drawn a bit nearer the middle than out on the wing in stall one. That said, he is improving and hopefully can step up. The Dante Stakes (3.00pm) has long been touted as the best of Derby trials and this year’s race looks as strong as ever with the likes of Too Darn Hot and Japan in the line-up. That’s not forgetting about the Breeders’ Cup winner Line Of Duty or the hugely impressive Telecaster. I ride Nayef Road for that man Mark Johnston who was unbelievably impressive in handicap company last time. This is a huge step up though and I’d be delighted if he was good enough to grab a place! Another one I’m looking forward to riding is Simon Crisford’s Mutafani in the Hambleton (3.35pm). I sat on him the other morning and he felt well and hopefully can carry on where he left last season. Well Done Fox will have to step up massively to get involved in the Listed Sprint (4.05pm) although the drop back to five furlongs will help. The maiden (4.35pm) looks a really interesting race on paper with some expensive types all making their debuts. I ride Today Power for the Hannon team who will know his job, but all eyes will be on the $1,000,000 son of American Pharoah. His name is Hong Kong and Ryan Moore will ride him.
It’s still early days as final declarations haven’t been made, but I have a rough idea about who I will be riding. Companion, who I won on at Yarmouth last month, could be back for her second start in the opener (1.50pm). She stuck to the task nicely and deserves a crack at a race like this if connections opt to give it a go. The big race on Friday is the Yorkshire Cup (3.00pm) where I was hoping to ride Dee Ex Bee, but he now misses the race and instead I ride Mildenberger. Whether he can beat Stradivarius, even with a 3lb penalty, remains to be seen, but we will give it a go. I could be on Mistiroc for John Quinn in the 3.35pm. He was a good second at Doncaster off this mark last month and is one to look forward to should he be declared. Dream World (4.05pm) is a possible runner and is bidding for a hat-trick, while Good Luck Fox (4.35pm) was short of room at Sandown last time and is better than that.
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