There are two great afternoons of racing coming up at York today and tomorrow and the latest forecast shows we should finally get some dry weather to enjoy the sporting action.
I partner some useful horses in some classy and competitive races and I hope to be on a winner before I dash across the border to Hamilton Park.
Even though York has been fortunate to avoid the heavy rain that has fallen across Britain this week, the prolonged wet spell does mean that the going will be on the soft side on Knavesmire.
That’s a lot better than at the west of Scotland track where the going was described as ‘heavy, waterlogged in places’. The Hamilton Park fixture probably needs some luck to be on.
I start off with three rides at York today.
Lucky Lodge goes in the Haylin Nursery at 3.10pm. An appropriately named runner on Friday the 13th, he scored for the first time when I rode him at Redcar five weeks ago, but the form of that maiden race hasn’t really worked out too well, so it will be a big step for the colt in a York nursery.
After partnering Kinyras 35 minutes later in the Caravan Chairman’s Charity Cup, I then get on board my best hope of the afternoon – Ancient Cross – in the Racing Plus 31.20 On Saturday Handicap at 4.20pm.
The weather that claimed the second day of the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate Festival at Newcastle a fortnight ago cost Ancient Cross his chance of back-to-back wins in the Gosforth Park Cup.
He has winning form at York and I’d love him to win again later today, not least because he is owned by BackUp Technology, the company that sponsors me.
Tomorrow is a major day for racing, with 100,000 likely to attend meetings at York, Newmarket, Chester and Newbury.
It’s great for the sport that so many people want to come racing – and there usually is a crowd of over 35,000 on Knavesmire cheering home their fancy to create a fabulous atmosphere at one of the nation’s most popular meetings of the year.
I hope those cheers ring out for me when I partner Ginger Jack in the opening 1.55pm race, the John Smith’s Racing Stakes.
Thirkleby trainer Geoffrey Harker’s five-year-old is in good form, with two runner-up spots and a win from his last three outings. He will like the ease in the ground that he will experience tomorrow.
Lyric Street is my mount in the Listed John Smith’s Silver Cup at 2.25pm. Trained by Ed Dunlop in Newmarket, he also holds another big York entry when the Betfred Ebor is staged on August 25, the final day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
This is my first ride on the four-year-old gelding that was last seen finishing in mid-division in the Sportingbet Jorvik Stakes at the Dante Festival in May.
Then it’s the big one, the 53rd John Smith’s Cup at 3pm, a race that enjoys the longest running sponsorship in the world of Flat racing from the Tadcaster brewery.
I am on Tameen, the lowest weighted horse in the race that has a field of 20 runners. The four-year-old filly is another ride for me from the Ed Dunlop stable.
She has a great racing weight and the trainer is expecting a very big run from her tomorrow. Although she hasn’t won for 10 months, she was placed in a Listed contest at Ascot in May. I hope this might be the horse to give me my first victory in the John Smith’s Cup. It would really be something.
My final ride of the afternoon at York is trainer Tim Easterby’s Confessional in the second Listed race of the day, the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes. He has been around a bit and won for me this season at Chester’s May Festival.
He will appreciate the softer under hoof conditions and could represent a good chance of a win for me tomorrow.
Oddly enough, my best overall chance of a winner this weekend isn’t at York. It comes at Hamilton Park tomorrow evening.
Sovereign Street goes in the 6.40pm race at the Scottish track. He won there for me just over a week ago and returns to represent Yorkshire trainer Ann Duffield, whose horses are going great guns at present. He is the one to beat tomorrow and I think he has an excellent chance of winning.
The next racing at York is the two-day John Smith’s Cup meeting today and tomorrow.
Today’s fare includes the Group 3 tyregiant.com Summer Stakes, while tomorrow’s highlight is the £150,000 John Smith’s Cup, a race which traces its history back to 1960. Gates are open on both days from 11.15am, with the first race time 2.05pm each day. More information can be found online at www.yorkracecourse.