The multiple Champion Jockey previews York’s Ebor Festival
I’d been hoping I’d get to ride Sapience in the Ebor for my boss Jimmy FitzGerald. They’d been getting him ready for two years for that day, and on the Saturday before the race they backed him down from 40-1 to 7-2. I thought it would kickstart my career.
But Pat Eddery jocked me off! He duly went and won going away and I had to wait until 1998 to win the race on Tuning for Henry Cecil.
I’ve always loved York and was leading rider at the Ebor meeting a number of times. It’s a fair track and always very competitive racing. It’s a great frontrunning track and one where you want to be kicking on; I won so many races by kicking on and holding them off late. I remember when I won on Islington [in the Yorkshire Oaks] I just hung on and people thought I’d kicked too soon, but I won a lot more races by kicking early and putting the race to bed.
It’s a place to pay attention to trainers and jockeys who have done well there before, which in truth is the case at most courses.
The likes of David O’Meara and Richard Fahey will have been getting horses ready for this week months ago. They’ll have all their horses really prepped and that’s why they do so well there. Sir Michael Stoute and William Haggas are exactly the same.
Stoutey will be aiming to pocket the big one on Wednesday when Ulysses goes in the Juddmonte International.
I’ve been surprised by how Stoutey’s got Ulysses to improve from a Group 3 horse
to a Group 1 horse this season, but I’m a massive fan of Barney Roy
. I feel if they kick on with him this track will suit. They need to stretch the others and if they do they’ll win.
In the Acomb Stakes Zaaki interests me at an each-way price. I know his trainer Mohammed Moubarak well and he’s been raving about Zaaki all year. He’ll be a good each-way price and I could see him coming home and getting a place in that race.
I won the Yorkshire Oaks four times, twice on the wonderful Islington; she was such a brilliant filly. She had the most wonderful temperament and she only got better and better – typical Sir Michael Stoute.
And it’s a Stoute horse that interests me in the race this year. Queen’s Trust
’s a nice filly and she flashed home when fourth in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot
. If she reproduced that run I think she could give favourite Enable a tough race.
Enable’s been on the go all year and it’s going to be tough for her to do it again. She’s had to travel to Ireland and take on the colts so you have to ask how many times can she do this, especially against the older horses?
I think Thursday could be a good day for Stoute in general as Mori should win the Listed Galtes Stakes and El Hayem has a great chance in the 1m handicap. He won last time and I like his prospects in that race.
The Nunthorpe’s all about Lady Aurelia – I can’t oppose her. She’s something else and I’m sure she’ll show that in the Nunthorpe. I’ve never seen anything like it when she won last time. I spoke to Wesley the other day and he couldn’t be happier with her. I know he’s always upbeat, but you can tell he’s really happy with her.
Looking ahead to Saturday, I think we’ve got a great chance in the Ebor with Winning Story. I’ve been riding him and he wasn’t right before he ran at Royal Ascot, so put a line through that. He’s been working great and is a group horse in a handicap. He’ll stay well, will be suited by York and if there’s any juice in the ground that will only boost his prospects, but I expect a really good run from him.
One final thought. If you can find any top jockey betting I’d be looking at Danny Tudhope. He rides York brilliantly and I’d be surprised if he rode anywhere other than York, whereas some of the other guys could be elsewhere during the week.