It’s the middle of a pretty full-on week for yours truly, one which has already involved Monday night at Windsor, Tuesday at Beverley where I rode a winner for Ed Dunlop, to be followed by Bath on Wednesday, a Salisbury and Newmarket nine ride double header including a quick afternoon flight to get from A to B on Thursday, plus consecutive days at Newmarket at the end of the week.
No complaints though as it’s a great time of the season to be in the thick of it, with the English Guineas done and dusted and the Oaks and Derby now just two weeks or so away.
From today (Wednesday) onwards plenty of eyes will rightly be firmly trained on York and the big three days of the Dante Meeting, a fixture which throws up clues and pointers for the whole of the rest of the campaign.
As both a racing fan and professional I always look forward to these three days, especially as it’s a meeting where my principal employer, John Gosden, will be bringing out some of his biggest names.
Exciting times as we get to see the likes of Lah Ti Dar, Too Darn Hot and Stradivarius.
An extended mile and a quarter is the journey for the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Wed, 3.35pm), a contest confined to three year old fillies and a race which has a proven track record of throwing up contenders for the likes of the Epsom Oaks and Royal Ascot’s Ribblesdale Stakes.
Our stable have enjoyed some good fortune in races of this nature over the last seven days, with Meydaayih successful for me in the Cheshire Oaks and Anapurna scoring in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield.
Hopefully we can get another in the bag here as the boss has chosen to run two, with Sparkle Roll and Entitle representing the yard.
Both hold Epsom entries and have plenty of positives to recommend them.
Entitle, a half-sister to Yorkshire Oaks winner Enable, has already won a race on the all-weather and will likely appreciate a step up in trip in time.
More is known about Sparkle Roll, a lovely Kingman filly who looked good when getting the job done at Sandown Park last month.
We’ve had her down as a possible for the Musidora for a while, so I hope she can put in a big run and justify our confidence.
Moving on to Thursday, all eyes will be on Lah Ti Dar as she graces the racecourse for the first time in 208 days, lining up under Frankie in the Group 2 Middleton Fillies’ Stakes (2.25pm).
The winner of the Galtres Stakes at this track back in August, after which it took a very good display from Kew Gardens to beat her into second in the St Leger, her form is rock solid and I can’t see anything of her quality in this field.
She’s ready to roll and with a bit of luck can launch her season with a victory.
Just over half an hour later (3.00pm), the Group 2 Dante Stakes has on paper at least got the makings of the best and strongest Derby Trial run so far.
Where the Derby Trials have been concerned, Aidan O’Brien has been sweeping all before him, so it could be significant he chooses to come here with the well talked up Japan.
Add to the mix the likes of Roger Varian’s Surfman, who won by 14 lengths under a penalty at Newcastle, and you have the makings of a must-watch race.
However, I’ll be hoping our stable put them both in the shade, providing two runners including a very exciting horse in the shape of Too Darn Hot, last year’s unbeaten champion juvenile who now has to prove he has the required stamina to accompany his guaranteed speed.
Will he stay the ten and a half furlongs? There are no guarantees in racing, indeed he hasn’t yet raced competitively over further than a mile, but he’s bred to stay a mile and a half, plus his mother, Dar Re Mi, saw it out very well and ultimately won four races over the mile and a half trip.
The Dante to Derby route is the same one we successfully negotiated with Golden Horn back in 2015, and it would be lovely to think we could do something similar here.
I really hope he’ll be too good for them – it would be great for the whole team if he could deliver.
Last but definitely not least where this guy is concerned, Friday is one many people are understandably looking forward to, bringing with it the return of Stradivarius in the mile and three quarter, Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (3.00pm).
A real public favourite, he took this race 12 months ago before going on to capture both the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot as well as the Goodwood Cup later in the summer.
Unbeaten in two visits to York, he’s always a great watch and is undeniably a horse full of class.
This’ll be a good test as there are some very solid animals in opposition. It’ll be fascinating to see who is likely to be challenging him for the biggest prizes in the coming months, but he’s showing plenty of sparkle in his work at home and if he can transfer that to the track I’d very hopeful he can pick up where he left off back in October. With a win.
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