If there are any folk left who are yet to be convinced by QIPCO Champions Day, surely this Saturday will convert them.
It’s the best single day of racing in the UK this season and everything has come right for Ascot. As jockeys we live for these big days when all the stars are aligned and the anticipation of a massive day has undoubtedly helped me recover from the bruises I sustained at Leicester earlier this week.
It’s been a tough few days but these things happen, and when I look at some of the injuries my Weighing Room colleagues are nursing right now, I guess I’ve good reason to be thankful.
My horse [Azam] broke loose and I got bashed around a bit. I was sore for a couple of days but it was nothing too serious and now I’m fully recovered and excited about Ascot.
I’m so excited about riding Galileo Gold and Shalaa
I can’t decide if I am more excited about Galileo Gold or Shalaa but the pair of them must have big chances, albeit in red hot races. I’ll be relieved to see any rain for Galileo Gold in the QEII as he’ll enjoy a bit of give in the ground whilst some of his rivals might not relish it.
He ran a bit free in the Marois and didn’t get the cover but that’s taking nothing away from the winner [Ribchester] who was at the top of his game.
Minding is a top class filly and the Ballydoyle horses are on fire but the break since France will have done my horse a world of good and I’m confident we’ll be back in the kind of early season form that made us all so excited.
My other key ride this weekend will be Shalaa. I’ve made no secret of how fond I am of this colt and his recent Ascot win will have brought him on a heap.
That run was always supposed to be a stepping stone to this weekend and the race was a perfect prep. It’s a high quality sprint but there’s more to come from Shalaa and John [Gosden] is more than happy with him. We’re ready to roll and I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t produce another huge run.
My ride in the Long Distance Cup, Sandro Boticelli, looks to be up against it and was well held at Goodwood.
It would need half a dozen of the big guns to be feeling the effects of a long season for my horse to feature in the finish but he deserves his place on the evidence of his Sandown win in mid-Summer and we’re familiar with many of these rivals.
I was absolutely thrilled with the ride Order Of St George gave me in the Arc. If he’s come out of Chantilly in decent shape, we’re all battling it out for the places: he’s the class act here, and I’ve been proud to play my part in an eventful season for the big race favourite.
Journey gave me a lovely feel last month when winning at the Cambridgeshire meeting.
She had an 8lb penalty that day so it was no mean feat for her to win in the fashion she did. Twelve months ago she had an identical prep before running so well in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes so I’ve no reason to think she won’t go well again.
She’s not been out a whole lot this term and John has taken it steady with her. That could prove critical as we near the end of a long season.
I’m a bit disappointed not to have found a ride in the Champion Stakes. It’s still a gap on my CV so it’s frustrating not to have a chance to plug the hole but it looks a sensational renewal.
Almanzor was terrific in Ireland and could be even better but this race looks to be every bit as good, especially since Found won the Arc. It’s a fitting climax to a world-class day of racing.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing