Jamie Spencer runs through the Chester card on Thursday
In the opener today at 1.45pm I ride Wigmore Hall. He’s a great old horse. Last year was a bit of a downer for him. Nothing really went right for him when he came back from Dubai and he was never really firing so this time he had a long winter break and gave Dubai a miss. The handicapper has given him a chance dropping him to 105. I’m not saying he’ll win as he’s drawn 14 but if you look back he’s a horse that’s won two Grade 1’s and he wasn’t beaten very far by Mukhadram last year in a Group 2 over 10 furlongs and now he’s running in a handicap. If everything went right and we can overcome the draw it wouldn’t surprise me if he gave all of them a fright. If I wasn’t riding Wigmore Hall the horse I’d like to ride would be Gabrial The Great for Donald McCain. He’s got a decent each way chance.
The Huxley Stakes (2.15pm) is an even better race than usual. Noble Mission won well at Sandown and Telescope will improve for his Sandown run but I really think Ektihaam is the one. Nothing went right for him after winning that listed race at Ascot beating Thomas Chippendale miles. He’s obviously a high class horse and I think 10 furlongs is his best trip. His trainer Roger Varian nearly always has his horses ready first time out. Those three are all rated 115 and Danadana who won this race last year is rated 114 so they are all tightly matched. It will be a case of who gets the best trip and see how it goes but it’s Ektihaam for me.
The Chester Vase (2.45pm) looks very open. Aidan runs two (Carlo Bugatti and Orchestra) and you have to respect them both but I like Seagull Star. He’s highly thought of and connections fancied him to win the big Sales race at Newmarket last time out but he was very inexperienced and just didn’t travel well enough. He’ll be a lot wiser for the run. You’ve only got to look at Aidan’s record in the race to know that he targets it so you wouldn’t be discounting his two but I just thought Seagull Star with a run behind him, at decent odds, could be the one.
In the 3.15pm my horse Our Gabrial has a place chance but I think Muteela will be very hard to beat. I was impressed by the way he won at Beverley. He looked pretty good and even though he’s drawn out wide he’s a typical Mark Johnston horse and he’ll get out and go forward and probably run us into the ground.
I don’t know much about Billy Slater for Richard in the maiden at 3.50pm but I think his other runner Ballymore Castle, who showed plenty of speed at Newbury, will be very tough to beat. In the 6 furlong handicap (4.25pm) I ride Pushkin Museum but it will be tough in a very open race. He likes to be up with the pace but missed the break on his first start for Richard last time. The aim is to go forward with him and see where that takes him. He’s not brutally handicapped and if he came back to form he’d have a chance but it’s a case of watch this space with him.
In the last (5.00pm) I ride Modernism and it’s his first start for a couple of months. He’s won four races on the all-weather in the last few months but he’s crept up the handicap and he may struggle against these. He also has an outside draw which is tough. I think Buckstay has a really good chance in this. He showed consistent form last year without winning and he looks well enough handicapped to have a good chance.
On Friday my best chance looks to be Mount Athos in the Ormonde Stakes (2.45pm). He won the race last year and should go well. I ride Postscript in the 7 furlong handicap (3.50pm). He’s been dropped back down to a rating of 85 after a couple of runs which means he’s got into this 0-85 off top weight. I think he’ll give a much better showing this time.
On Sunday I hope to ride Lat Hawill in the French 2000 Guineas. He’ll work this morning and we’ll make a decision then. For whatever reason I still don’t think he showed his form in the Greenham. If he can improve as much as we hope he will then he’ll be one to look forward to for the rest of the summer.