The Derby and Royal Ascot are what summer is all about. I loved both of them when I was riding, along with the Breeders’ Cup and the Arc at the end of the year, and I still look forward to the five days at Ascot.
I was never one for top hat and tails – I’d much rather sneak in the back door, pop my tracksuit on and go out for a run! The likes of Frankie Dettori, the French boys and the Americans love all the pageantry, it’s tradition and something unique to Ascot, but it was never for me.
The racing is what is was, and still is, for me and it’s going to be a brilliant meeting as always. Hopefully we’ll find a few winners together this week.
I’ve said many times before that Sir Michael Stoute is a genius with horses like him and I think he’s working his magic again. The boys at Stoutey’s think he’s improved since his win in the Lockinge last month and, if that’s the case, there’s only one winner of this race. I know this horse is working really well and I think he can get Royal Ascot off to a flyer for us.
Aidan O’Brien is always a man to have on your side at Royal Ascot and this lad is one they’re all really looking forward to this week. He chased home a very talented horse on his debut and made no mistake next time. I expect the same in this race.
Everyone is banging the drum for Battaash in this race – and he did win well at Haydock last time – but Blue Point is a serious racehorse. Anyone who read my Dubai Carnival blog will know how much I love this horse and we put him up a couple of times successfully during the winter. He’s cast iron and very reliable. With Battaash you don’t know which one will turn up and the atmosphere at Royal Ascot can really buzz horses up. Blue Point will always run his race.
I was so impressed with Phoenix Of Spain in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. I thought it was a brilliant run. He looks like a horse who can only improve and I think this race, with the turning course and uphill finish, will really suit him too. I can’t have Too Darn Hot. He was a very good two-year-old but he’s disappointed this season. Essentially, I don’t think there’s anything in this race good enough to beat Phoenix Of Spain.
The jumps boys are always dangerous in these races and it’s more than likely either Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott will win this. However, I’ve got a lot of time for Johnny Portman as a trainer and Mancini caught my eye in this. He ran well at York last time and could step up on that again in this race.
I can’t wait to see this horse run as all the reports are he’s flying at home. He’s a Group 2 horse running in a Listed race and I think he’ll be better than he was at Chester last time. He finished the race really well that day and I think he’s my strongest fancy of the day.
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