Paul Mulrennan - A Jockey’s Diary: Long trip to Ayr brings two days of hectic action in the saddle

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I was delighted to ride a double at Thirsk Racecourse this week ahead of a trip down south to Royal Ascot yesterday where Lucky Henry was unfortunately unplaced in the Britannia Stakes after being prominent.

It was good to see some of the horses with form on the Knavesmire doing well as always at the Royal meeting.

Chief among them over the opening days of the meeting was northern jockey Richard Kingscote’s Ceiling Kitty, a two-year-old filly that won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes after taking the Listed Langleys Solicitors LLP EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes at the Betfred Dante Festival last month.

Joviality, the winner of the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at the corresponding meeting 12 months before, came back to winning form for the first time since her York triumph when triumphing in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot under William Buick, though he will be disappointed that The Fugue – last month’s Musidora winner – was only second yesterday.

I’m driving north and west to Scotland today for evening racing at Ayr where the action continues tomorrow afternoon. I have no fewer than 12 rides in the space of 24 hours.

My best chance of a winner tonight comes with Orbit The Moon, a four-year-old trained by Michael Dods in County Durham.

He was fourth at Ayr late last month over the same distance that he faces tonight.

Five horses were virtually in a line that day, with the 40-1 chance Orbit The Moon just half-a-length behind the winner. He is drawn well in stall No 4 and I think he has a big chance of getting his head in front in the 7.45pm race.

Master Of Dance is also drawn well in the following race at 8.15pm. Trained by Keith Dalgleish, he’s an each-way chance in my view.

Barney McGrew is a right old veteran, having bagged a win at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in his pomp, and he’s now coming down in the weights.

He goes in the 8.50pm race, again for handler Michael Dods, but he hasn’t been in the winner’s enclosure for a couple of years.

My stand-out ride from a full book on Saturday afternoon is Blue Destination in the 1m 5f handicap race at 3.30pm. He won over a similar distance at Musselburgh just a week ago so he comes into tomorrow’s race in good form. He’s a versatile horse for John Quinn and has decent form on the Flat and over hurdles.

There is much to like about him and he operates best when on a galloping track and that’s just what he will find in Scotland.

The same trainer saddles Duchess Dora in the Listed race at 2.25pm. She won a conditions event at Chester’s May Festival before competing in Listed company for the first time at Haydock Park earlier this month.

After victory last time out at Pontefract Races, Yorkshire trainer Jedd O’Keefe’s Satanic Beat – who won his maiden at York 11 months ago – jumps up in class in the 2.55pm race.

Although you never know how good horses are until they race for the first time, I’m hearing all the right things about trainer Kevin Ryan’s Nordikhab, my mount in the maiden race at 4.05pm.

Third-placed Eastern Dragon was the closest I got to a winner at Knavesmire last Saturday.

Sholaan, trained by Yorkshireman-in-exile William Haggas, did well to win the Bond Tyres Trophy, a race in which my mount – the 40-1 chance Boris Grigoriev – finished fourth.

I’ll be hoping that my luck turns at one of the most popular meetings of the summer on the Flat in Britain – the 53rd John Smith’s Cup meeting which arrives in the middle of July at York Racecourse.

On July 13 and 14, it is the next racing at York. Friday’s fare includes the Group 3 Summer Stakes, while the Saturday highlight is the £150,000 John Smith’s Cup, a race which traces its history back to 1960.

The support of the Tadcaster brewery makes the feature the longest running sponsorship in the world of Flat racing. Gates are open on both days from 11.15am, with the first race time on each at 2.05pm.

On the day admission ranges from £5 to £24 on Friday and £7 to £35 on Saturday – with discounts for advance purchases. As always, accompanied under 16s are admitted free of charge to all areas.

More information can be found online at or by calling the racecourse on 01904 620911