I had a quick trip to Ireland yesterday – and was writing this before the plane took off from Manchester – to ride York possible, Custom Cut, at Leopardstown.
So after what will have been a late night, I have a busy Friday with eight rides at Newcastle and Catterick.
I am on board Mr McLaren in the opener at Gosforth Park at 2.30pm. He’s a progressive horse and has won two of his five races this season, including last time at Thirsk. He has a good chance of making it three from six. Scoreline, who won at Musselburgh early this month, would also have an opportunity in the handicap at 4.40pm.
The one to highlight this evening at Catterick is Magic Music Man at 7.10pm.
Trained by Karl Burke, he was placed on his seasonal debut at Ripon just over a week ago. He’s a nice three-year-old and should go well.
Tomorrow is the big meeting of the year at the ‘Garden Racecourse’ at Ripon.
Out Do is my mount in the feature, the Great St Wilfred Stakes at 3.30pm.
He has a little bit to do in what is always a competitive contest.
But he is consistent, has headgear on for the first time and ran a decent race at the track recently, so fingers crossed it all comes together for him.
I’m delighted to have been booked to ride a couple of horses for trainer Richard Hannon jnr.
Red Refraction (2.50pm) has already won twice this season, while Lexington Times (4.35pm) has finished first, second and third on his three races to date, all of them at Newmarket. Both horses are owned by Middleham Park Racing. Once the weekend is over, I can really focus on the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival from Wednesday onwards.
I’m very pleased with my record at York this season – six winners from 28 rides, at a strike rate of more than 20 per cent.
Trainer David O’Meara has done even better. He’s on eight winners for the season. Twelve months ago he had three winners at the big four-day festival.
Should he repeat that, he’d be well on his way to becoming leading trainer at York for a second year.
We have a strong team ready and quite a number will have chances of winning, though the competition at the Festival is red hot.
Everyone wants to win in front of the big Knavesmire crowds and take a share of a whopping £3.5m in prize-money.
I’m hoping that Move In Time can get the meeting off to a perfect start for me in the Symphony Group Stakes on Wednesday. He’s in good form, having won a month ago at Newmarket and was just beaten at Ascot last weekend, and the unusual distance of five and a half furlongs could suit him.
Of course, the highlight of the opening day is the £800,000 Group 1 Juddmonte International – the richest race ever run at York – in which English and Irish Derby winner, Australia, could take on last year’s Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur winner Telescope. They could be joined by Yorkshire’s hope The Grey Gatsby, trained by Kevin Ryan, and a colt which won the Betfred Dante and the French Derby. Mukhadram, hopefully partnered by Paul Hanagan, a favourite himself on Knavesmire, adds yet more York and Group 1 form to a fascinating contest.
We’ll certainly be represented in the £250,000 DBS Premier Yearling Stakes, the opening contest on day two during which the feature is the £330,000 Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks. All eyes will be on Investec Oaks winner Taghrooda.
For my part, Dutch Rose, who loves York and has won on the racecourse no fewer than four times, is an intended runner in the Eventmasters.co.uk EBF Stallions Fillies’ Stakes, the finale on Thursday. She bids to win the seven-furlong event for the third year running and previous wins at York are always worth noting.
The second day’s action also includes the Listed EBF Galtres Stakes which is run with the support of his brother as a tribute to a man who lit up the Ebor Festival for a generation, the much-missed Sir Henry Cecil. I’m looking forward to a fantastic couple of days, as are thousands of racing fans who will descend on York. Next week I’ll go through our prospects for the Friday and Saturday, including, of course, the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and the Betfred Ebor, both races worth £265,000.
The Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival is between Wednesday, August 20 and Saturday, August 23. The racing highlights are the Juddmonte International (Wednesday), Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Ladies’ Day, Thursday), Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Friday) and Betfred Ebor (Saturday). Admission on each day ranges from £9 to £55 for adults. Three- and four-day tickets are available. Further details at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.