Jamie Spencer gives the lowdown on six super Saturday rides
I have a busy day at York with six rides. I like having rides in every race as long as they have a chance. I whinge a bit to my agent if he ever puts me on a 20/1 chance that has no chance of winning. After twenty years riding I don’t need the practice. Just as long as they have a chance of winning then I’m happy. I think around 70% of my rides this year so far have finished in the first four so most of the time I am on horses that are there or thereabouts which is good. It’s all going well at the moment and I’m looking forward to my Saturday.
Jallota my ride in the first at 2.05pm has won over course and distance last year. He’s a couple of pounds higher. He ran an eye-catching race at Chester and he can be a bit gassy and that was his first run for a while. With that run behind him it should set him up nicely for a good run here. Seven furlongs around York is ideal for him as it’s a fast seven, and because he’s a bit keen and gassy, you go almost six furlong pace early as everyone battles for a position, and that suits him well. He’s got to have a squeak and track form is a huge plus at York.
Quest For More is a great spare ride to pick up in the 2.40pm. He won a Northumberland Plate last year beating Max Dynamite. Then he only just got beat by me on Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup. He has good form. He was a little disappointing in the Geelong Cup but then ran a good race in the Melbourne Cup. I think he finished ninth just beaten a few lengths, and the way the race was run I don’t think it would have suited him. I spoke to George Baker last night and he told me that this is a horse that you don’t want to be breaking his rhythm once he gets going. In the Melbourne Cup I ended up making the running and I went a bit slowly early on, that probably wouldn’t have suited him. This is a good starting point for Quest For More, and according to George he’s been working nicely. I’ve a good strike rate for Roger Charlton so hopefully that will continue. I know Captain Morley and Angel Gabrial well having ridden them before and they will have to step up plenty to trouble Quest For More.
I have another nice ride in the 3.15pm on Walpole for Hugo Palmer. He’s a nice horse who won a bumper, then a maiden and then at Windsor the other day in a stop-start messy race. At the three pole last time he had to be a good bit better than his rating to get out of trouble off a slow pace. But he did just that and in the end he was well on top. It’s a similar scenario to the one Curbyourenthusiasm had last year when he won that handicap at Windsor. When they go slow there, and experienced leaders kick for home, inexperienced horses often get caught out. They then find it much easier when they go to more conventional tracks, and I’m hoping that’s the case with Walpole. Appeared was very impressive at the Dante meeting when he swerved across the track and Andrea was still able to win easily. He’s up 8lbs though which won’t make it easy for him, and he’s giving my horse 9lbs. I think it’s between the two of us and I hope Walpole can come out on top with that weight concession. I’ve ridden a lot of winners for the owners, Roldvale, who are David Gold and David Sullivan, who own West Ham. I won the Dubai Duty Free for them on David Junior about ten years ago so I get on well with them and have had a relationship with them for a long time.
In the 3.50 I ride Doctor Sardonicus. It’s like everything; match practice is huge. He went to York the other day and finished fifth, and it was his first run on five furlongs on turf. I think that run will not be lost on him. It was his first run since October. He should strip fitter number one, and number two it won’t be as alien to him running on turf, as he didn’t run on it at all last year. He ran on turf as a three year old but last year only ran on the all-weather. So the experience of sprinting on grass and the benefit to his fitness should be a help to him. It’s a competitive five furlong sprint on a Saturday, so I’m not saying he will win, but I’d like to think he’ll be a good bit sharper.
In the 4.20pm I ride a first time out two year old called Broken Stones for Kevin Ryan. He was quite an expensive Breeze-up purchase over a month ago. They are very happy with him. Kevin was keen to run here and keen for me to ride the horse. Kevin generally introduces his nice two year olds here at York. It’s a watching brief but he’s been to the breeze ups and I’m sure he’s done a couple of bits of work since. When they’ve been to the Breeze-ups you don’t really need to drill them at home, just let them get used to their surroundings as much as anything else.
My last ride on the day is Turning The Table in the 4.55pm. She is a big scopey filly by Mastercraftsman. She won nicely on her debut last year at Chepstow. She then went to Newbury and was third to Nathra on very soft ground over seven furlongs. It was then probably my fault as I said to David that she probably wouldn’t be unsuited for a drop back to six furlongs but it didn’t work out. She then went to Newmarket on Guineas weekend and it just didn’t really pan out for her, but she was disappointing in any case. So we are getting back on track with her. I’d be very disappointed if by the end of the season she’s still hovering around near a mark of 80. I’m not saying she’s going to win this race, as Ed Dunlop’s filly is coming into the race on a hat-trick, but I’m sure she’s going to win this season and you’ll be seeing a much better filly than you saw at Newmarket.
It’s a really good book of rides, but Quest For More has a great chance which is there for all to see, and I’m very much looking forward to riding Walpole and the two year old Broken Stones. I have a mixed bunch of really good rides and I’ll be disappointed if I leave York without at least one winner.
On Sunday I ride Ashadihan in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Kevin has been very patient with her. It was almost exactly twelve months ago that she had her first race. Then she went to Royal Ascot and ran a great race and then she bombed out in the Lowther. She was never going that day but she was going through a growing spurt at the time, and had got really tall and angular. She’s come back this season a stronger filly. She’s filled out really well over the winter. She never looked like winning at Lingfield but then got motoring in the last furlong. She hated the track, everything was against her, but she came home good. With the run behind her, you’d be hopeful going into the race of a place chance at least. Obviously she’s going to have to find 10lbs with the likes of Ballydoyle and Now Or Never, but we’re not tilting at windmills as she’s won a Group Three, so it’s logical to take on your own age and sex in a Group 2 or Group 1. There are no Group 2s around so this looks a good slot. If she could get in the first three it would be a real achievement.
I’ve won the race three times. I won it for the first time a long time ago. It was eighteen years ago on Tarascon when I was a seventeen year old. I’ve won the race since on Gossamer and Just The Judge so it’s been a lucky race for me.
I then ride one of my favourite horses The Grey Gatsby in the Tattersall’s Gold Cup. The main opposition have all had runs already this season, so that’s to their advantage. The Grey Gatsby is five now so he’ll obviously improve for the run. It’s a good starting point for him. The ground looks like it’s going to be fine for him, good or even good to firm, which is absolutely ideal for him. He’s joint top rated with Fascinating Rock, and obviously we have to give the sex allowance to Found, and she’s had two runs already this season. So it won’t be easy but it’s a good stepping stone to Royal Ascot for him. It would be great for the horse to win another Group 1 in what will be his last season. The fact that he didn’t go to Dubai this year will pay dividends later on, as it means Kevin didn’t have to get him ready in the depths of winter. Also when horses come back from Dubai I always feel that when they have their first run within six weeks or so it’s as if they have a kind of jet lag. They run around 5lbs below their best. Whatever reason I don’t know, perhaps the climate change or the travel?