Leopardstown in Ireland on Thursday night; Newbury this afternoon; Arlington in Illinois tomorrow; Thirsk on Monday. That’s the variety in my travel schedule ahead of the four days of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, which begins at York next Wednesday.
I am writing before riding Custom Cut in Dublin yesterday evening, but I flew across the Irish Sea in an optimistic frame of mind.
Back to the immediate future. I ride racecourse debutant Meyrick for Yorkshireman-in-exile William Haggas in the opener at Newbury before getting on board a Royal Ascot runner-up, Savannah’s Dream, in a Listed contest at 3.55pm. I’m hoping the latter reverts to her Windsor Castle Stakes form, rather than the slightly disappointing run at Pontefract.
Then it’s an overnight stay down south before flying out of Heathrow to Chicago to ride the globe-trotting Mondialiste in the Arlington Million. York racegoers will be familiar with my partner. He ran brilliantly to finish second in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes last month – and of course he was a winner at the Ebor Festival 12 months ago. The last time we were in the USA together, we finished a nice second at the Breeders Cup and the American continent yielded a Group One for Mondialiste when Fergal Lynch stepped in for me in the Woodbine International.
He’s drawn well in the race that goes off shortly after 11pm BST tomorrow. Arlington is not a track I have ridden before but it looks straightforward, though they jump off into a bend from the stalls.
I’ll be back in Yorkshire in good time for the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival from Wednesday, a real highlight every year for all at David O’Meara’s yard. A strong team is being put together which is no surprise given the record £4.2m prize-money on offer.
The richest race of all time on Knavesmire is the Group 1 Juddmonte International, worth a cool £900,000, on the opening day. It will be fascinating to see if Postponed, the highest rated horse in the world, can continue an unbeaten streak of five races.
Aidan O’Brien, who describes the Juddmonte International as a “great race at a great track” may oppose the Newmarket star with one of his own, Highland Reel.
Godolphin have paid the supplementary entry fee for Hawkbill, their Eclipse hero. The Grey Gatsby is set to be Yorkshire’s representative, as Kevin Ryan’s charge seeks to improve on consecutive placed finishes.
Two rides I am particularly looking forward to are Fashion Queen, a likely participant in the richest Group 2 contest for juvenile fillies, the £200,000 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes. Later on Thursday, Alfred Hutchinson is set to carry the Reg Bond colours, in the Clipper Logistics Stakes, a valuable race that is also a qualifier for the Balmoral Handicap on British Champions Day on Saturday, October 15.
The filly was second on debut at York, then won readily at Thirsk.
Another York winner who I expect to be on during Ladies Day is Pandora, who steps up in distance to one-and-a-half miles.
Find out more and book tickets for the Ebor Festival at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.