Jamie Spencer will be disappointed not to ride a couple of winners today
Royal Ascot was frustrating because of the weather. Around 70% of my best chances were effectively wiped out thanks to the soft ground. So despite that I still managed to get a winner with Defrocked and Queen Kindly almost won. I’ve no doubt she would have won if the ground had been good. Isomer ran well against Churchill, so there were some good performances. All in all I was happy that I got a winner out of it. It’s a long week if you don’t have a winner.
The new Newcastle all weather surface is very like Meydan, where Tapeta was first used. It’s quite slow and the last furlong looks a long furlong when you watch every race. I would say that when the weather is warm, the wax gets a little bit soft and sticky, and it saps the horses’ energy. Races on the straight course are more truly run than for instance at Wolverhampton, where they slope round the turns and get loads of breathers. Also on the straight track here you are running hard from the stalls so it’s a stiff course.
In the 2.30 I ride Mr Lupton for Richard Fahey. The surface is a big unknown but he won well at York. It’s a different type of race being a Group race not a handicap, so hopefully he will get a good strong pace to run at. He does like pace in a race and hopefully he will get that. My horse started the year rated 100, I think Buratino was 118 or something like that. There is now 5lbs between them on official ratings but I like to think my horse is going forward and there won’t be that much between them in reality.
In the 3.05 I’m on Sir Robert Cheval for Robert Cowell. First and foremost I’m very excited to be going to Robert’s barbeque on Sunday week. He’s having a celebration barbeque after his two Royal Ascot winners so I don’t want to mess up between now and then or my invite might get taken away. Sir Robert Cheval ran very well on his first start for Robert at Newmarket. He only just got collared late-on. I think a stiff six, given he won over a mile at Ascot last year, will be a big help. I think he has a good chance. The handicapper has had his say with Blaine, who I think’s up 13lbs. George Bowen would be a danger but there is a chance he would prefer grass to this surface. He likes a bit of juice in the ground. Robert was trying to get my horse into the Wokingham last week and he missed the cut. There wasn’t much between him and the winner of the Wokingham when they’ve been galloping so that bodes well.
I ride The Cashel Man in the 3.40. When he came back into training it took him a long time to come to himself in the spring. There was never any stage that he was bouncing at home. David was never over the moon with him. When he ran him at York we knew he’d need the run, but he had to have a run to try and get into the Ascot Stakes. He missed the cut for that so this is the secondary plan. The surface is a little bit of an unknown but he works on the all-weather every day so it shouldn’t be too bad. I think the cheekpieces will help too as he is a little bit lethargic in his races. They should help him get a nice position and then he can travel from there. He won’t want to be out the back with 20 odd runners, he needs to be further forward, so the first half of the race is equally as important as the second half for him. I’ve a tiny suspicion that two miles is the outer limit of Cardinal Walter’s stamina. So we’ll have to see with that and he’s drawn nineteen too, but he’s got a good rider on board who can work out how to beat that draw.
In the big race at 4.15 I’m on No Heretic. He’s a very good mover and he hated the ground at Ascot last time. He didn’t even pull at Ascot which tells you how much he hated it. He’s coming back twelve days later but the fact that I didn’t give him a hard race at Ascot should stand him in good stead. We should see the real No Heretic here. He’s got his chance and I don’t think it’s a great Northumberland Plate. There doesn’t look a standout horse so it’s there for the taking.
In the last at 5.25 I ride Fallen For A Star for Luca Cumani. I haven’t ridden him but I looked through his form and there were a couple of points to make about his first run for Luca. It was his first run for a long time and it was his first time in a hood. I think the step back in trip will suit and I have a nice draw. The race he ran in last time has worked out well. The winner came third in the Hardiwcke and the third came out and won at Kempton last week, so the form looks strong. I thought my horse would go there with a good chance.
All in all I have some nice rides and I would be disappointed if I don’t ride two winners.
On Sunday I head to Ireland to ride Koora in the Pretty Polly Stakes. You should never be afraid of one horse but obviously Minding looks exceptional. What I would say is that Koora has come a long way since she made her debut last July. The fact that she’s a Pivotal filly trained by Luca, from a family that Luca knows really well, means she’s stepping up her form every time. She was just ready to have a run when she ran at York and she ran really well and I’m sure she’s improved since then. She will need to but I will be disappointed if I’m not second and I think she can push Minding at least.
Looking ahead to the Coral-Eclipse and The Grey Gatsby I’m mindful of the weather. But in fairness it was soft at Yarmouth yesterday and it was good ground by the last race. At this time of year with the long days the ground can dry quickly. I’m hoping that’s the case with Sandown come next Saturday. Big Orange runs in the Coral Marathon and The Grey Gatsby runs in the Coral-Eclipse and it would be nice if they could get their conditions. It’s ridiculous that we are getting this far into the season and the summer and we’re getting soft ground. We were just delighted with The Grey Gatsby’s run at Ascot. The fact is he’s a five year old, and an entire horse, so they do need work. You can see how much an older filly like Found improved from her first run to her second run. With normal improvement back on ground that he likes you’d have to say we’d be looking forward to The Grey Gatsby going there with a big chance. I don’t think there’s a Golden Horn in there and if he’s in last year’s form he’ll be very hard to beat.