I won the Stewards’ Cup (3.35) twice during my career and it’d be fantastic if Hoof It, the horse I won the race on six years ago, was able to win it again on Saturday.
He was really at his peak at that time. He carried 10st to win, which was a crazy amount, and that was not all he had to deal with that day. They couldn’t get the weight cloth on him and he got stung in the box and went berserk as well, so it was pretty amazing that he still did what he did.
He’s a big gentle giant who rolls along in races and he was a proper Group horse in a handicap. Injuries have stopped him since then, otherwise he’d have been top class. I’d ridden a few winners for his co-owner Lee Westwood, the professional golfer, before then and they were always lucky owners for me – Hoof It was a lucky horse for all of us.
The other time I won the race was pretty special too. Everest was trained by the much-missed Dandy Nicholls for pro-punter Henry Rix and they thought he was a good thing that day. How right they were!
We had a scare in the paddock that day too when he tried to double-barrel me when I went to get on. Dandy was such a good trainer of sprinters and he’s missed.
They’ll be a lot of attention paid to the draw before the race and it was always something I studied closely. I’d watch the races the day before and the earlier races on the day as well to see where they go. It’s very important to watch the races.
They’ve not been going down the middle too much but it might be the best place to be. You’d probably just want to be a little left or a little right of the middle as if you make a move across to either rail you’re covering a lot more ground than if you go straight down the middle. Ultimately that’s the shortest way isn’t it?
With all that in mind, Danzeno is the one that appeals to me. I liked him at Ascot when he looked like a Group horse in a handicap. He’s got a lot of weight but he’s battled hardened and as tough as nails. He won with a bit in hand at Ascot and I think he’s the one they all have to beat. He’s the class horse in the race. Hoof It’s a bit long in the tooth now for me, but I hope he puts in a good performance.
The Qatar Gordon Stakes is the other major race on Saturday and it’s not a race to overthink. Crystal Ocean is a class horse and Sir Michael Stoute’s horses are just starting to really rock and roll. When Stoutey’s horse’s hit form you can’t beat them. He comes from a proper family as well and I expect him to put in a big performance.
That’s certainly what Expert Eye put in when winning the Vintage Stakes. He’s the one horse to take out of this week; my god I didn’t think he was that good.
He’s a big, raw horse and he’s got a serious amount of talent. He won like a good horse and Newbury and he’s beaten a good field while learning, and he beat Barraquero, who won the Richmond Stakes.
He’s put what he’s learned back into play and I was blown away by what he did. In every way you can’t look beyond this horse for the rest of the season because I know what Stoutey’s like with horses like him. The sky really is the limit with him.