Jamie Spencer hopes Chester dash will deliver more Saturday success
I ride Mount Tahan in the 2.00 at Haydock. He was pulled out a couple of weeks ago because the ground was too fast at Newmarket. He’s got a brutal draw for a horse that likes to get out on the pace, so it makes it a little more difficult. We’ll just have to take it as it comes, and give it a go. He’s well capable of being competitive off this rating. He’s a nice horse. He’s getting a bit older and these horses by Lope De Vega seem to get better with age, and a bit of juice in the ground will be a big help to him.
In the 2.35 I ride Carnachy. She ran well last time having won her first start at Goodwood. On the ratings she has quite a bit to find with Journey. It’s a warm race but she should go there with an each way chance. Journey is the one that everybody has to beat but if she doesn’t pitch up at her best then there are lots of horses all hanging around the same rating who would have a shot.
I ride Breton Rock in the 3.10. He finished just in front of the Lockinge winner, Belardo, last time out, when third behind Toormore and Dutch Connection at Sandown. If any of Toormore, Dutch Connection or Belardo pitched up in this race they’d be one of the favourites so I’m looking forward to riding him. The ground being Good to Soft should suit. Home Of The Brave has a couple of pounds in hand of us on ratings but you can set your clock by Breton Rock so I’m really looking forward to riding him. Hopefully there will be a good pace to run at, and he goes there with a big chance. He’s my best ride of the day.
He’s six years old and David hasn’t abused him, he’s always kept him to the conditions he likes. He’s never run him on fast ground because he’s just a big horse. He likes to get his toe in. When they are so big and genuine as he is, and you run them on too firm a surface, they still run as hard, and try as hard, and end up coming back jarred up and will never go through the pain barrier again for you. So David has wisely kept him off fast ground and that’s why Breton Rock always runs his races. He gives his all every time because he’s minded too. He’s been great fun for his owner and he picks up plenty of prize money. It was the first time I’d ridden him at Sandown and he ran a good race. I think this slightly bigger field will suit him because he likes to come through horses.
I then jump in a car with my agent who’ll drive me over to Chester to ride Gunnery in the 4.35. I like Gunnery. At Newbury last time nothing went right. He was a bit slow away, and never got a good position. It was a mile and three furlongs and we hacked, and it turned into a three furlong sprint. That was never going to suit him. He’s a big galloping horse. Even though it’s Chester I’m pleased I’m drawn out wide so that he can get into stride rather than being stuck down on the rail. I would like to think he’ll be on the pace, and we’ll step it up from half a mile out, and then we’ll see what the real Gunnery can do. I like him as a horse and I’ll be very surprised if a mark of 85 is the limit of his ability. I think Chester will be fine for him. Newbury was a mile and three, whereas this is almost a furlong and a half further. It’s a tighter track but the contours of Chester mean they nearly always go a good gallop, and if they’re not going a good gallop, then I will be going a good one on him. I think the race should set up nicely for him. The Mark Johnston horse on my inside made the running last time, and the horses outside me aren’t likely to go to the front, so I should be able to get the position I want at the start.
On Sunday I’m going Greyhound Racing. It’s a charity Greyhound racing event for a Cancer charity at Henlow. Loads of the jockeys are going to it, including Adam Kirby, Martin Harley and James Doyle. I’m looking forward to it. There’s about twenty of us going over from Newmarket. It will be a bit of fun.
I always say that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is like work, then Thursday you’re looking forward to the weekend, and then Friday and Saturday is when you get the chance of better rides and bigger races. The racing’s more interesting on Fridays and Saturdays. It gets difficult because you try to spread yourself across two meetings like this Saturday, which means I miss out on rides. I’m missing out on a few rides in the later races at Haydock but I wanted to ride Gunnery at Chester, as he’s a horse that should have a reasonable future. Being by Le Havre he’ll improve with time.
Looking ahead to the Oaks I suppose Minding still is the one. At the end of the day if Jet Setting hadn’t been in the race, she’d have won the Irish Guineas by ten lengths and we’d all be saying she’s a steering job in the Oaks. It’s one of those things. She was ten lengths ahead of the third which is a long, long way. Her opponents in the Oaks have to play a huge catch-up.
In the Derby I’m still a fan of US Army Ranger. It’s a similar scenario for him. If his stable companion hadn’t been in the Chester race and he’d won by seven lengths, everyone would be saying he’s a worthy Derby favourite. Seamus Heffernan said in his column in the Racing Post that there are still a lot of questions to be answered but it’s one of those years. There is no standout horse in the Derby but that makes it an interesting race, and everyone seems to want to run which will make it a big field. Lady luck could play a big part in it.