I’ve got a busy Saturday to look forward to, with six rides at Ascot followed by three at Salisbury in the evening, which is just how I want it to be at this stage of the season.
I had a decision to make between Muthmir and Moyassar in the first. Muthmir is an old favourite, who has run some super races over the years, and it wasn’t easy to get off him here, but I’ve sided with the much younger Moyasser. He looked progressive when winning at Newmarket in May, and although he disappointed next time out, the drop back to five furlongs shouldn’t be a problem, he’s got fewer miles on the clock than Muthmir and I can forgive him that last run, he could run well here having been freshened up since then.
Speed Merchant is one of the runners in this Novice Stakes that has racecourse experience, although he ran pretty green that day and should come on considerably for that. He will need to though, as there are a couple who look to have run better and of the unraced ones, we just don’t know how good they might be.
Loolwah is a nice filly who I really like, and the form of her runs at Nottingham and Thirsk has already been boosted, with winners coming out of both races. She’s got a great chance here, she’s off a mark of 85 but I’d hope she’d turn out to be better than that, in time she could prove to be better than a handicapper. John Gosden’s filly [Fabulist] looks to be the big danger, but I’d be disappointed if my filly didn’t go very close.
I haven’t ridden Ship Of The Fen for a couple of years, when we finished second at Goodwood, but he’s a smashing horse, I’m looking forward to being back on board. He disappointed last time but he made the running that day and I’m not sure that suited him. We’re drawn well so I’ll look to ride more of a race on him here, and I think he’ll go very well.
His trainer Ian Williams is someone I ride a lot for, and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. I actually rode winners for Ian over jumps too, so we go back a long way. He’s someone who always seems to get the best out of his horses, whether that be on the flat or over jumps, he doesn’t shout about his horses from the rooftops, but the results he’s achieved really do speak for themselves. He’s also been a lucky trainer for me, we’ve enjoyed many good days together – winning a Chester Cup, a November Handicap – so long may that continue.
I’m on Wadilsafa in the feature Summer Mile. He really needed his first run of the season, he’s a big, gross horse, and as expected he improved bundles from that first run to go really well at York last time. This is a really competitive Group Two, so he will have to run a career best to win here, up against the likes of Accidental Agent – a Queen Anne winner – Beat The Bank, and improvers like Matterhorn and Zaaki, I hope he’s up to this level, but he will need to run a big race to be involved.
I’ve got some nice rides at Ascot but Faylaq would be the main reason I’ve gone there. It took a while for things to click with this horse, he was quite weak early on, but on his last two runs he’s really strengthened up, and he absolutely bolted up at Newmarket last time. As a result he has shot up in the handicap from 73 to 93, but I’m hoping he can progress again.
He is beautifully bred, by Dubawi out of the Arc winner Danedream, and was an expensive purchase at the sales, but I am really looking forward to riding this horse. Twelve months ago this race was won by Cross Counter, who went on to win a Melbourne Cup, and my fellow will be even better as a four year old, I’d really hope he can develop into a stakes horse.
My first ride here is Ghalyoon for the boss. He ran very well at Newmarket last time, to finish second to a horse I rode, and he was very keen and ran green that day, so I’d imagine he’ll improve plenty for that. Godolphin run the debutant Zahee, who could be anything, and we give weight to all the three year olds in the race, but my horse should be hard to beat.
I’m on Moayadd for my old jump jockey counterpart Neil Mulholland here. He ran over hurdles in Jersey last time, and before that finished behind Ship Of The Fen, who I ride earlier in the day at Ascot. He looks like the outsider of the quartet here but hopefully he can outrun his odds and I can give Neil and his owners some fun.
I end the day on another for Ian Williams, Heatherdown. A winner last year for Michael Bell, he ran well enough to finish third at Nottingham two starts ago, and hopefully we can get him back on track here.