Racing, cycling and World Cup football seem to be coming together in different ways in my life this weekend.
I will ride the top weight in the big betting handicap race of the day at Haydock Park tomorrow, having ensured that I take the advice from the websites to plot my route around the road restrictions in place for the opening day of the Tour de France.
And in the evening, as the second set of World Cup quarter-finals are played in Brazil, there is a romantic’s bet when I ride Toto Skyllachy at Carlisle Races.
That’s a phonetic spelling of the surname of the Italian striker who lit up the World Cup on home soil 24 years ago winning the ‘Golden Boot’ as top scorer.
Toto the horse is also now an old timer on the Flat who has his going and not so going days.
I’ve won on him three times at Beverley in the last couple of years and his last victory was at Carlisle 11 months ago. Hopefully he can perform to his best tomorrow in the 7.10pm contest back on Cumbrian soil again.
Fattsota, who last won at Epsom in the summer of 2013, makes his seasonal debut in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock Park tomorrow.
Trainer David O’Meara has opted for this race over next weekend’s 55th John Smith’s Cup at York for which there are plenty of other options.
The £150,000 Knavesmire race is understandably as competitive a handicap as there is in the racing calendar, but tomorrow’s race at the north west track is a tough one too.
My six-year-old has plenty of experience and comes into the race fresh and well. I’ll be hoping for a drop of rain before they are off at 3.30pm. He does appreciate a bit of juice in the ground. There’s another big race in him I am sure – hopefully it could be tomorrow.
The other ride I take at Haydock is recent York winner Alejandro. He did very well in the Geoff Pemberton Memorial Stakes under my weighing room colleague Silvestre de Sousa in the middle of June and so is in good order for tomorrow’s 4.40pm handicap. The Knavesmire victory was the sixth of his career, so maybe he can bring up lucky seven tomorrow.
Unlike Fattsota, he probably doesn’t want too much rain; no one ever said we jockeys had to be consistent in our wish list.
After that I’ll be driving up the M6 to Carlisle for a single ride at the evening meeting in Cumbria.
Thoughts are already turning to the John Smith’s Cup meeting at York next Friday and Saturday.
David O’Meara has plenty of options in Saturday’s feature which enjoys the longest continuous sponsorship in Flat racing. He still has nine horses in the race and exact running plans will be worked out in the next week.
The two I would say are the likeliest to go for the £150,000 race are Chancery and Hit The Jackpot.
Chancery won at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago and followed up by taking the Sky Bet Stakes at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Hit The Jackpot has won three times already this season and would be targeting his first victory at York.
Of course there’s another major sporting event at Knavesmire before then – the second stage of the Tour de France this Sunday. It’s a huge event for York and Yorkshire – and a crowd of over 25,000 is expected before nearer to 40,000 hopefully cheer me to victory next Saturday. Two great sporting occasions in a week … welcome to Yorkshire.
n The next racing at York is the John Smith’s Cup meeting on Friday, July 11and Saturday, July 12.
n The feature race on the opening day is the Group 3 Totepool Summer Stakes.
n The John Smith’s is the longest running sponsorship in Flat racing anywhere in the world.
n Admission ranges from £5 to £25 (Friday) and £8 to £37 (Saturday).
n Under 18s are admitted free of charge.
n More details at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.