It Is great to be riding in Yorkshire this weekend and in the coming days as we head towards one of sport’s highlights of the year, the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
Being on ‘home’ soil for a week or more is especially good after a long trip to Salisbury yesterday, albeit that it was with my very classy horse, Custom Cut, in a Group 3.
Tomorrow is the feature meeting of the summer at Ripon, highlighted by the Great St Wilfred Handicap, and I would expect to be at Pontefract the day after before the short trip to Thirsk on Monday and possibly back to Ripon on Tuesday.
After that, all roads lead to York for four days of fantastic racing!
It’s mouth-watering stuff on Knavesmire. There are so many highlights to look forward to and I think the big crowds are in for an enormous treat across all four days.
Well over 10 years have passed since the Derby and 2000 Guineas winners took each other on – but that’s what is set to happen next Wednesday in the £850,000 Group 1 Juddmonte International, rated earlier this year as the best race in the world.
Golden Horn versus Gleneagles will be a fantastic contest, but do not ignore the chances of Yorkshire’s own French Derby-winning star of 2014, The Grey Gatsby.
Back to the present and I would certainly like to keep the scoreboard ticking over after a good number of winners in recent days, including four at Ayr in the span of 48 hours for three different trainers.
Before the big day at Ripon, I take two rides apiece this afternoon at Newcastle and this evening at Catterick.
The most likely of the quartet to win would be Mon Beau Visage in the nursery at 6.40pm at the north Yorkshire track. He has won one of his three races to date this year.
I take another four rides at Ripon tomorrow – and trainer David O’Meara and myself will be seeking a fourth victory in the Great St Wilfrid.
We were successful in both 2011 and 2012 with Pepper Lane and reclaimed the prize with Out Do 12 months ago.
That showed the potential of the horse and he has since won twice at York, including the Listed John Smith’s City Walls Stakes. Now he could go for an even greater payday in the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes next Friday.
This year, in the Great St Wilfrid, we have just the one chance in Eccleston. With a bit of rain forecast, I am expecting a big run from him.
Half-an-hour earlier, at 3pm, David has three chances in the Silver Trophy. I expect to be on course and distance winner Flyman. Again, rain would assist him, but don’t discount the chances of either York winner Regal Dan or former Stewards’ Cup victor Rex Imperator.
It is still early days for firm running plans for York, but one thing is guaranteed… there will be a strong team going each day from David O’Meara’s yard.
One race that is very much in our sights is the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, worth no less than £310,000. As well as Out Do, who I already mentioned, the sprint is the target for Move In Time, while G Force could be a contender in the event of rain.
David is considering races at York for Hit The Jackpot, Mondialiste and Saved By The Bell, and running plans will become clearer over the next few days.
In a lovely gesture, Sky Bet have named the top jockey award at York in honour of Ray Gilpin, one of those journalists that those of us in the Weighing Room were always happy to help and who sadly passed away just last weekend.
I’ll be aiming to defy my odds of 12-1! Frankie Dettori, who will, of course, be on Investec Derby winner Golden Horn in the Juddmonte International, is 4-1 favourite, with former two-time champion Paul Hanagan and current Stobart Championship leader Silvestre De Sousa among the leading contenders.
Enjoy the first two days of the Ebor Festival, including Ladies’ Day, which always adds something extra to Thursday.
Next week I’ll go through my chances on the concluding two days, including in the Ebor itself.
York’s oldest, richest, fastest and most famous races provide sporting excellence combined with fashion and fun over the four days of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
The traditional highlight of the season starts next Wednesday and runs for four days, finishing with the Betfred Ebor on the Saturday. Find out more and book tickets at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.