Jockeys get well used to accumulating miles on their cars; but it’s air miles for me this weekend.
That said, I start locally, with a couple of rides on the third day of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster. Tomorrow sees me in Ireland; and then it’s the delights of Paris on a Sunday (though airport to Longchamp passes few of the sights!)
Of course, tomorrow also sees the 2015 running of the oldest Classic of them all when York’s Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes winner, Storm The Stars, trained by Yorkshireman-in-exile William Haggas in Newmarket, goes for the big one on Town Moor.
As tipsters might say, in racecard order …
Foxtrot Romeo has his first run for David O’Meara in the 4.15pm handicap at Doncaster today after a move up from Suffolk. Hopefully, the Yorkshire air will have done him good and he can return to his best form.
It seems a while since First Sitting was an encouraging runner-up on Britain’s biggest charity race day, run in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support at York back in June.
Tomorrow’s 5.25pm race would be a good time to get back to strong early-season form.
Taking the leg up at Leopardstown for the opening day of Irish Champions Weekend means I have to miss a couple of David O’Meara’s runners on St Leger Day. After winning at York in John Smith’s Cup day, Birdman must have a decent shout in the 4.55pm handicap in which stable mate He’s No Saint is also a contender.
He is another horse with a Knavesmire success on his CV.
How do I assess the Ladbrokes St Leger?
I think it is a very open race, Storm The Stars, third in the Investec Derby, second in the Irish Derby and a Group 2 winner at York last month is a leading fancy but will be no shoo-in.
He would be a very popular winner with the Doncaster crowds, coming from the yard of Skipton-born William Haggas, who enjoyed an incredibly successful Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
Over the water, I take the ride on Custom Cut in the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes. It’s my first ride in Ireland this season, but we proved a successful combination over course and distance last August.
Perhaps significantly that win came on soft ground and with heavy rain forecast for Dublin today, the likely testing conditions won’t inconvenience my fella. We now head to post for 6.50pm as officials at Leopardstown are juggling the timings on the card to best combat Mother Nature.
David O’Meara’s Amazing Maria, who has won her last three races, goes for the Group 1 Coolmore Matron Stakes at the same meeting. Olivier Peslier partnered her at Deauville and so stays in the chair. Having won on ground no better than good, she must have an excellent chance.
I swap tricolours on Sunday, leaving behind the green, white and gold flags for the red, white and blue of France.
Move In Time, whose latest run was in the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe at York, gave me one of the greatest moments in my career when winning the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at last year’s ‘Arc’ meeting on this very track. Prior to that he was runner-up in the Prix du Petit Couvert there and so he goes for that race again as his prep run for ‘The Abbaye’ next month.
After an injury disrupted season, at least I will be fresh for when we all get back to York for the final two days of racing on the Knavesmire of 2015. That’s on Friday and Saturday, 9 and 10 October.
Earlier this week, York announced a six-figure boost to prize money for these two days, the highlight is the now £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy which is among the fourteen races that have benefited from an overall prize-fund increase of 25 per cent, to a record £416,000. I’m looking forward to it already.
n York next races on Friday and Saturday 9 and 10 October – Countryside Day and Coral Sprint Trophy Day.
Early bird tickets are available to purchase. Find out more at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk.