Crowley Calls It: “He’s a really exciting ride in a very good Group One”
The Champion Jockey previews his rides on day three of the July Meeting at Newmarket
It’s a very busy day, with meetings here, there and everywhere, and in particular I could have ridden Mutakayyef, who’s a hot favourite for Ascot’s Summer Mile, but really it was an easy decision for me to make to go to Newmarket, as what would I rather win, a Group One or Group Two? The July Cup is a very important race, and can make a horse a stallion as well, so although Mutakayyef should win, and I hope for the team he does, it made sense to go to Newmarket.
It’s a busy time of year, not just on the racecourse but riding out as well. This morning [Friday] I was riding out at John Gosden’s at 5.30, and Roger Varian’s at 6.30, but it’s good being in Newmarket as I can normally grab a couple of hours kip before racing! At the end of the day it’s great to be busy, and days like Thursday, when I rode a treble, make it all worthwhile.
I start the day on One Second for Mark Johnston. He was second at Doncaster last time to a nice horse trained by William Haggas, Learn By Heart, and as you’d expect this looks like a decent race with some good looking unraced sorts and Aidan O’Brien’s Sizzling, but Mark Johnston’s horses are always tough, his two-year-olds know their stuff, and he should run a good race.
In the mile handicap I’m on Afaak for the boss, Sheikh Hamdan. He ran OK at Royal Ascot – 7th in the Britannia – but as it turned out I thought the ground was a bit quick for him, as he’d run a good race when winning on soft at Doncaster the time before. He’s still a big baby and hopefully he’ll improve, as he’s a really nice horse who we did fancy for the Britannia so hopefully he’ll get back on track here.
My ride in the Bunbury Cup is Tashweeq, who had Group race form as a 2-y-o and is a lovely, big scopey sort. He disappointed first time up this season at Sandown, and then I rode Tabarrak in the Royal Hunt Cup, when this fella ran a huge race to finish third at 66-1. Tabarrak also ran a good race at Ascot off top weight, and I’ve chosen Tashweeq this time as he’s slightly better off at the weights, and although it would be no surprise to see Tabarrak run a big race, I hope my one will improve again on ground he’ll like.
My ride in the Superlative Stakes, Nebo, had a bad draw in the Coventry, when he was drawn on the wing of the field, they all came up the stand side, leaving him away from the action, so in the circumstances he actually ran well. We’re drawn better here and while this is another decent race, he was a winner first time up and I’m sure he’ll run a bigger race than he did at Ascot.
In the big race of the day, the Darley July Cup, I’m on Tasleet, who was only just touched off in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. He won at York on very soft ground, and then went to Ascot on very quick ground, and put up a career best performance behind The Tin Man. Ideally I’d like to see a touch more rain, as that could blunt the speed of some of the others, Limato wouldn’t like it and we’ve beaten The Tin Man on soft, but it doesn’t look as if we’ll get that unfortunately! Even so I’m sure he’ll run another big race, and he’s a really exciting ride in a very good Group One.
My final ride of the day is Quloob for Sheikh Hamdan. He won an average sort of race at Brighton last time, and the handicapper hammered him, he put him twelve pounds and I think he’s been too hard on him, as the race really fell apart on him. That said, obviously I hope the handicapper is right and he can defy the rise, as he’s another nice type and he won’t mind the ground, so hopefully he’ll run a good race.