Sky Sports Racing Ambassador Hollie Doyle heads to Bath this weekend for six outings and she already has her eye on a busy week at Royal Ascot, where she will be aiming for more glory in Group 1.
Before I can think too much about Royal Ascot, I’m preparing for a busy weekend with six rides in Bath on Saturday and a beau for Imad in Salisbury on Sunday, which I’ll tell you about shortly.
My best luck on the Lansdown could be Jonjo O’Neill’s NOTICE in the Download The Free At The Races App Handicap (1.20) on the 11 extended stadiums. He hasn’t won a race in any code yet but took a step in the right direction when I rode him at Wolverhampton at the end of May.
I had been caught off guard around Kempton before that, but he enjoyed a leisurely stroll through Dunstall Park and returned home once I took him out for a run. Bath should be fine with him as long as they go a good gallop.
Determined to ride the first winner for Bell
I’ve never ridden a winner for Newmarket coach Michael Bell, but that stat might improve on the sixth attempt when I partner GREEK KODIAC in Ryan Hopkins’ 40th Over The Hill Handicap (3.10) in Bath.
The Middleham Park Racing gelding ran well, finishing third in a Chelmsford City handicap over 1m before winning a 7f seller at Redcar last time around. He’s got some form on fast terrain so I’d be disappointed if he couldn’t make an impact in a regular race.
It was nice to mount a winner for Paul and Ollie Cole the other day on Ernie’s Valentine’s Day in Leicester and I certainly don’t rule out a follow-up to their QUÉMONDA in the Free Tips Daily at attheraces.com Handicap (4.20).
This mare hasn’t raced since December but has a good fresh record, winning when she reappeared on the All-Weather at Lingfield around the same time last year. Importantly, she only failed by a header to win a course and distance handicap on firm ground last July, so conditions should be ideal for her.
Fast ground a concern for fillies
While Opine, Greek Kodiac and Quemonda should take advantage of the quick ground in Bath, I would certainly prefer some to give underfoot for Henry Candy’s KINGSTON STAR and that of William Knight THE BROADWAY DIVA.
The first improved for me on its second start at Salisbury, showing a lot of speed early in the race in a 6f maiden, so the return to the minimum course in the 2.30 is positive. However, she is a big filly so I’m not sure how she will fit the description ‘Firm’.
Broadway Diva is a well-behaved Pivotal girl who proved herself in Chelmsford last winter. If she can take the lead on her handicap debut (4.55), it will be a case of ‘work done’ when it comes to the value of her paddock, but her pedigree suggests that she too would be better served by a little juice in the ground.
Novice fillies stakes (1.55) will be a learning curve for Simon and Ed Crisford LUCKY SHAKE, whose two previous runs were on All-Weather. If she can build on her fourth-place debut at Lingfield, she should do well on her way to the Nurseries later in the summer.
Pray for rain in Salisbury on Sunday
I’m leaving for Salisbury on Sunday to ride Starspangledbanner of my boss Imad Alsagar, three years old FIRE IN THE RAIN in the handicap of the wedding anniversary fillies David & Sandra (4.08).
She is a magnificent filly with a lot of size and scope and probably needed her first run of the year at Haydock in April, but probably hasn’t quite seen the mile.
She ran well over 7ft at Redcar last month but ran into a group horse in Sir Michael Stoute’s Cheveley Park filly, Potapova, who is likely to compete in next week’s Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Salisbury is a hilly track so we’ll see how it does, but it’s definitely ready to win races so I’m going to go there expecting it to come forward again.
Itching to get back to ‘magical’ Ascot
I can’t wait for Royal Ascot to kick off on Tuesday. The track gave me some magical days last year – my very first winner at the Royal Meeting on Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap and, of course, my Champions Day double on GLEN SHIEL and TRUESHAN in October.
Glen Shiel became my first top level winner as he was so strong in the Champions Sprint and together we will try to emulate that feat in Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes next Saturday.
Races Royal Ascot Group 1
Tuesday 2:30 p.m. – The Queen Anne Stakes
Tuesday 3.40 – The stakes of the king’s position
4.20 Tuesday – St James’s Palace Stakes
3.40 Wednesday – The stakes of the Prince of Wales
4.20 Thursday – The Gold Cup
Friday 3.40 – The Commonwealth Cup
4.20 Friday – The stakes of the coronation
4.20 Saturday – The stakes of the Diamond Jubilee
Before that, I have Trueshan to hope for in the Gold Cup. It’s going to be such a buzz in this race and I couldn’t have been happier with his reappearance in Group 3 Ormonde Stakes in Chester.
Both horses ideally need some juice in the ground so hopefully the running conditions won’t be too fast for them in the next few days. I am probably in the minority but I must admit that I hope for a little rain!
I plan to have rides every five days, including a few for my boss Imad Alsagar, and a few sweet two-year-olds for Archie Watson, and I’ll walk you through all my rides and key races in a daily blog post. from next Tuesday.
Unlucky Princess is the one to watch
I was unlucky not to win a Haydock novice over the boss’s filly PRINCESS NADIA at Haydock mid-week. We went to win our race inside the last furrow before being picked up late by the favorite Mandoob.
Trained by John and Thady Gosden, she is an unfurnished tall girl from Sea The Stars who needed a lot of time but has now performed well on both starts and is certainly in good hands to progress this summer through. at 1m4f.