Crowley Calls It: “This is one of the best Juddmonte renewals for a good few years”
The Champion Jockey previews day one of the Ebor Festival and reflects on Massaat’s Hungerford win
1.55 – Symphony Group Handicap
I kick off the Ebor meeting on Shamshon, who I won on at Newmarket’s July meeting. He was slowly away at Ascot last time, he still had the blindfold on and I wasn’t away as quickly as I wanted to be, so we were always playing catch up.
Hopefully he can get back on track here and he’s got a good each way chance I think. Sprints like this, you could run them ten times and get ten different results, but if he runs like he did at Newmarket we should be on the scene.
In terms of the draw at York, especially in the sprints, the most important factor is where the pace is; if you’re on a hold-up horse away from the pace, and there’s nothing to take you into the race, then it can be very difficult, but if you’re on a front-runner and the ground is decent then the draw doesn’t make much difference.
2.25 – Acomb Stakes
In the Acomb Stakes I ride Zaaki for the first time. This is a good race, and I was very impressed with Dee Ex Bee at Goodwood, and I think he’ll be hard to beat. My fella ran well in a good Superlative Stakes last time but he’ll need to improve again here.
3.35 – Juddmonte International Stakes
The big race of the day is the Juddmonte International, where I ride Ulysses. This is one of the best renewals of this race for a good few years, and you’d be a brave man to call the winner of this in advance.
Every horse in the race deserves their place, and it’s going to be a fascinating race. Hopefully the track will play to Ulysses’ strengths, I’m glad it’s not a big field, it’s small but select and hopefully he can run another big race.
We beat Barney Roy at Sandown, although obviously not by much, and Cliffs Of Moher was also behind us in the Coral-Eclipse, and then there’s Churchill stepping up in trip, so it really is top-class, but I wouldn’t swap my fella for any of them.
He ran a super race in the King George on ground that wasn’t ideal, and I couldn’t have asked any more of him that day.
This will be the fourth time I’ve ridden Ulysses, and he’s a horse that you need to ride with plenty of confidence, so I’m really looking forward to this, races and horses like this are what it’s all about!
4.50 – Nursery Handicap
I end day one of this meeting on Tathmeen for the boss, Sheikh Hamdan. He made it third time lucky when winning by six lengths at Newbury last month on soft ground, it wasn’t a strong race but he’s clearly going the right way and has some big race entries. He gave me a good feel, and while he wouldn’t want really fast ground, good ground would be perfect.
Thoughts on Massaat
Looking back to last Saturday, and I was really pleasantly surprised by the way Massaat won the Hungerford Stakes. After a long absence I thought he might be a bit rusty, so it was a great training performance by Owen [Burrows] to bring the horse back after a year off.
He ran in the Derby which was too far for him, so over the shorter trip and on easier ground, I really do think the sky’s the limit for him now. There are plenty of options for him now in the Autumn, races like the Moulin, the Foret and the QE II.
He’s been second in the 2,000 Guineas so he’s a proper Group One horse, and he’s a big, heavy-topped horse, so ground with a bit of give in it, like we should get at Ascot for Champions day, will suit him perfectly, and I’m really looking forward to getting back on him.