Wherever you’re riding in the country, this meeting at York is huge and not one you want to take your eyes off for too long.
Horses from your own stable, those you’ve ridden previously, some you’ll be on in the future, plus some you’ve ridden against and perhaps been impressed by or gotten to know their quirks, there’s a lot to take in even if you’re not actually at York.
The opening day takes me not to North Yorkshire, but to the outskirts of London for a book of five evening rides on the all-weather. Hopefully there’ll be a winner or two among them, but it’s also the best of both worlds as I’ll be able to settle down and concentrate on what’s happening at York in the afternoon.
There the feature is the Group 1 Juddmonte International (Wed, 3.35pm), worth something like £600,000 to the winner. A huge sum, but once you’re out there in the saddle it’s all about trying to win the race, whether it’s a modest handicap or a glittering Group race such as this.
With my Gosden team hat on I can pass on some definite words of encouragement for our runner here, King Of Comedy.
A three year old with a handy weight allowance, I’ve been on him a few times at home recently and he’s in great form, feeling better than he has all year.
We’re expecting a big run and for him to be able to unleash his powerful turn of foot.
Whether or not that’s enough for him to be able to get the better of Crystal Ocean is another question.
Two years older, Sir Michael Stoute’s main contender is a super horse and looks very hard to beat, especially with our star mare Enable bypassing this to go for the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday.
If he’s even a couple of percent below his best on the day Crystal Ocean will quickly find King Of Comedy is there in the rearview mirror, throwing down a huge challenge, but as I say at his very best he looks tough to beat.
Earlier in the day, the Group 3 Acomb Stakes (Wed, 2.25pm) is an interesting clash of some very talented juveniles.
The most exposed of the 10 runners is Harpocrates, who has Ryan Moore and a pair of first-time blinkers to help him along, but at the other end of the scale the one I’d like to be riding is the Charles Hills runner, Persuasion.
Why? Watch the tape of his debut victory at Glorious Goodwood again and you’ll see he wins despite being held up and getting into all sorts of trouble mid-race.
He’ll have learned plenty from that and looks a good horse in the making.
Lastly, and I’ve saved my best ‘til last on day one, the pressure is on to try and find a winner to raise from funds for Racing Welfare, a charity who I personally am a big fan of.
Their partnership and work with FansBet is well into its second year, so let’s try and bag them some extra funds.
Betting wouldn’t be my area of expertise, far from it, ask me about riding racehorses or negotiating the motorway network of Great Britain and you’ll get a different answer, but even so I think we’ve got a great chance of doing them some good by choosing Logician in the Great Voltigeur Stakes (Wed, 3.00pm).
The boss, John Gosden, has brought him along beautifully, allowing him to gain experience and victories at Newbury (twice) and Newmarket.
I was fortunate enough to be on board at Newmarket in July, and also rode him at home on Monday morning. He feels great and is improving at a rate of knots.
I appreciate he’s the lowest rated runner in the field here, but that may not be the case for long.
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