Another big flat racing festival gets underway on Wednesday with the start of Yorks Ebor meeting. Once again it will be really strange riding behind closed doors at one of my favourite festivals.
The atmosphere at York is really like nowhere else and it will be such a shame that there is no crowd. There is something about Northern racing fans that makes the whole place buzz and we will really miss that over the next four days.
It will be really interesting to see what the ground is like for the first day of the meeting as there has been plenty of rain about. People often have strong opinions about where they like to be drawn on the straight course at York. The reality is you want to be where the pace is, but if I had to choose, I probably side with being middle to high.
Anyway, onto the opening days action where I have five nice rides to look forward to. I also recorded another Zoom Room on Tuesday with Bill and Luke and you can watch that below….
My first ride of the meeting is for the David O’Meara team who are always to be respected in sprint handicaps like this one. This six-year-old has a particularly good record at York having won once and finished second twice on his last three runs here. He disappointed for some reason at Thirsk last time but previously had won well here. Life is a little bit tougher off a 4lb higher mark and he probably wouldn’t want too much more rain as he seems to go particularly well on a sound surface. If the rain does come, then stablemate Arecibo should go well.
GEAR UP (2.15pm)
When you consider that Gear Up got loose before the start of his maiden win here last month, it was a pretty decent effort to get the job done. He takes a big step up in class here, but you can never rule out one of Mark Johnston’s. On paper he has a mighty task to beat the likes of Cloudbridge and Darvel, but his trainer is not afraid to roll the dice.
3.15pm – Juddmonte International Stakes
No ride for me in the feature race on the opening day, which looks like being a cracker. Only the five runners now as Aspetar has been ruled out, but it still looks one hell of a race. Ghaiyyath sets the bar pretty high after his Eclipse victory and should take plenty of beating. His biggest danger could well be Lord North who seems to be getting better with every race this season.
ROCHESTER HOUSE (3.45pm)
I am looking forward to getting back aboard Rochester House and hopefully we can make up for such an agonising last gasp defeat at Glorious Goodwood. We are now 3lbs higher at the weights for that defeat at the hands of Just Hubert and both the wide draw and drop in trip makes things tough too. However, he is getting better with experience and hopefully we can build on his last run. Stablemate Summer Moon is a horse I always fear, and he should run well at a big price.
SAMPERS SEVEN (4.20pm)
It will be great to get back on Sampers Seven in the Fillies sprint handicap. She won nicely at the track last time and is obviously in good form. However, it will be tougher from a 10lbs higher mark and she is unlikely to be left alone on the lead like she was last time. We will give it a good go though.
PURE DREAMER (4.50pm)
I am looking forward to riding Richard Hannon’s Pure Dreamer off a low weight in the nursery. He has got better with both starts and was keeping on nicely at the death last time. He will have to step up again but has a really nice racing weight and is one to look forward to. Line Of Departure has won both his last two starts and sets the bar pretty high.