Jamie Spencer speaks exclusively to Coral about the upcoming season
Jamie Spencer will be writing a regular blog exclusively for Coral customers sharing his thoughts on the major upcoming races and his hopes for the many exciting horses he is riding. Here in his first Coral blog Jamie gives us his views on the forthcoming season:
I am so excited about this Flat season and riding for Sheikh Fahad. He has an amazing number of horses in training, over 200 I think, spread around over 30 trainers. Riding for an owner rather than a trainer makes it very different too, as I will be riding for loads of trainers that I wouldn’t normally ride for. This will take some getting used to but the opportunity to see how different trainers prepare their horses is really interesting.
I know most of the trainers that train for Sheikh Fahad socially, and see them at the races regularly, but in terms of working with them all professionally, it is very fresh and exciting. On Wednesday morning for example I rode work at Ralph Beckett’s, then went to Andrew Balding’s and then on to Richard Hannon’s and that would never happen but for my retainer with Sheikh Fahad.
Compared to previous seasons, riding for Sheikh Fahad means a lot of extra travelling and I never know where I’m going to be riding until a few days before. I just operate on a week by week basis. Whilst all the horses are important, there are the top 20% of horses that require particular attention in term of working out their fitness and getting them ready for their races, and this involves writing reports to the boss which I’m getting used to. All the trainers are very helpful and David Redvers is the racing manager but I also speak a lot to Bryony Parkyn, his trainers’ liaison. Whatever it is that I need, the answer is always “ask Bryony” and she sorts everything out. I think they should name a horse “Ask Bryony”.
I also speak to Sheikh Fahad all the time, as this is his business at the end of the day as well as his main interest, and also to David. The three of us discuss the horses, and everyone gives their opinion. No-one’s afraid to say what they think which is really healthy. Sheikh Fahad is open to anything, and is very open minded about horses and horse racing. Just because a horse isn’t bred to run over a certain trip, if we think it’s worth a try he will nearly always say let’s try it. He’s definitely not a follower, he’s a leader, and that’s really refreshing as well.
All in all there’s a load to look forward to this season, but you just have to be patient and wait for it to come to you. The Classic trials come up first and some horses might disappoint or need more time but if you look at the big picture, with so many nice horses, we only need a reasonable amount of luck and we’ll be in good shape. I have got Zoustar coming from Australia and aiming at the Diamond Jubilee and I’m very excited about him. I was in Melbourne when he won the Coolmore Stud Stakes Group 1 and he absolutely hosed up in a last to first performance without seeming to break sweat so I’m really looking forward to riding him.
Kiyoshi is a bit of a forgotten horse in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and I’m really happy with her this spring. She’s never ever disappointed me. Obviously she got beaten in both of her last two starts but had legitimate excuses both times. Some of the lightly raced colts that we have fall into the ‘could be anything’ category. None more so than A-Rod who, if he gets it together and becomes more amenable to restraint, could be top class. There really is an awful lot to look forward too.