As ever, the famous £200,000 race – the richest middle distance handicap in Britain – will be one of the most exciting and competitive events of the summer. First run in 1960, the contest enjoys the longest continuous commercial sponsorship of a Flat race in the country.
The David O’Meara yard has just the one runner this year in Fayez, who will be partnered by my colleague Shane Grey.
He’s a grand horse, but the handicapper has perhaps caught up with him and he is a longish price.
The last Yorkshire-trained winner of the ten-furlong race was sent out nine years ago by David Barron. He saddles one of the leading fancies Kynren this afternoon. The two at the top of the market are Royal Ascot hero Dash Of Spice and Thundering Blue, who won over the same distance at York in May.
I’ll watch the John Smith’s Cup on television over 200 miles away in Berkshire where I will be in between races.
My reason for being at Ascot is that I’m staying loyal to Clipper Logistics, a regular sponsor at York, and one of their best horses Suedois.
I’m hoping that today might be the day that he wins for me without having to go through passport control. He has triumphed at Group 1 and Group 2 level in the United States and Ireland, while – without the need to cross over water – he regularly won in France when he was trained on the continent.
He’s yet to register a victory in Britain, but I think what could be crucial today is that he’s running over a mile around a bend at Ascot. That’s what he wants and I think he should be able to get into a place in the Group 2 at 1.20pm.
David O’Meara also runs Lord Glitters in the race. He won the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions Day for me at the track last autumn. The difference that day was the race used the straight mile.
Jamie Spencer is in the saddle this afternoon and the horse will certainly give a good account of himself.
Of my other rides today Haddaf could run a big race at a generous price in the 12.45pm handicap, while the seven furlongs at Ascot should suit Areen Heart in the finale.
With another warm day forecast across Britain today once again the welfare of the horses and racing professionals will be paramount, with plenty of water provided for all by racecourses and York one of several tracks to have invested in water–misting fans.
After today I get a two-day break. There’s no Flat racing in Britain tomorrow, while I have a holiday on Monday courtesy of the stewards. But I’ll be back at Beverley or Thirsk come Tuesday.
Gates open at York today at 11.15am for John Smith’s Cup Day. The first race is at 1.55pm and visitors will be able to watch the England play-off game as well on dedicated big screens. Find out more at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.