When Battaash is good, he’s very good, and last weekend he was brilliant! I said in last week’s blog that he was a more relaxed horse this year, and everything went to plan at Haydock, I was able to drop him in a little bit at the start – which isn’t always easy on him – and ride a race on him. He’s also a lot more forward in his coat this year compared to last, when he got beat at Ascot last year it didn’t suit him to make the running, but I also felt the horse was not in his best form. This year he certainly seems to be, and if he stays in that form for the Royal meeting, and Charlie’s [Hills] horses are in great form, he’s the one they’ll have to beat in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Even though I was able to ride more of a race on him, it’s still the case that when he goes, he takes you with him! He’s a remarkable horse, the other jockeys in the race were saying to me afterwards they couldn’t believe that they were flat out and my fellow was still at half pace, and we’re talking about proper Group One horses, Mabs Cross, Alpha Delphini, he made them look ordinary.
For some reason he never runs his race at York [in the Nunthorpe] so we might bypass that this year, unless it came up soft, but the King’s Stand is the important one we want to win, and after that there’s Goodwood again, where he’s won the last two years, and the Abbaye in the autumn.
As you’d expect I’m really looking forward to riding Maqsad in the Investec Oaks. She’s drawn well in five, so we’ll have Medhaayih outside us, and although it’s a mile and a half, the draw is important at Epsom. You don’t want to be drawn very low, one or two, as you have to work hard to get a good position, but five should be fine. Although there are 14 runners, realistically there are probably only 5 or 6 that can win it, so traffic problems could be an issue, we’re just hoping for a clear run round.
There is a question mark over this trip, although there is stamina on the dam’s side, and so I’m not too worried about it, she’s a classy filly and she travels so strongly. She handled the dip at Newmarket but Epsom is such a different track, she’s a big strong filly who will need to act around Tattenham Corner. If you’re travelling well you’ll always go round the bend well, it’s when you’re not travelling that it becomes an issue.
As for some of her rivals, I don’t know if Frankie [Dettori] had the choice of the John Gosden runners or not, but his mount Anapurna will definitely stay, she was crying out for this trip at Lingfield, the further she went the better she went. Pink Dogwood was tried in Group One company last year so is clearly well regarded, and the form of her Navan win this season is working out well, while Medhaayih was visually very impressive at Chester.
I wouldn’t swap my filly for anything, and if I had to, I wouldn’t know which one I would swap her for, the three or four towards the head of the betting all have chances but not one filly has outstanding claims. All I can ask for is a clean run round and a fair crack at the race!
Shady McCoy is 9-y-o now, but is having his first run at Epsom, although he’s run just about everywhere else! He’s coming back down the handicap now, and with a decent enough draw I’d hope he has an each way chance.