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Expect fireworks on a fantastic Friday

23 Aug 2018

Legends Of War and Oisin Murphy win

I start off Friday’s action in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes on Qatar Racing’s Count Octave.

We’ve been really happy with the horse at home and he comes into the race fresh from an excellent piece of work on the gallops.

That said this does look a tough race to win as the favourite Stradivarius is in unbelievable form and looks to be the champion stayer this year. The Gold Cup winner does have a three-pound penalty to contend with; but even with that extra weight on his back he’ll still take all the beating. It’s great for the sport that he’s in with a hot chance of landing a £1 million bonus too.

As always, I’ll be doing my best to win the race, but at the end of the day we just want Count Octave to run as well as he can. Whatever the result this will serve as a good exam ahead of his likely trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.

We move from stamina to speed as next up I ride Legends of War in the Gimcrack Stakes. John Gosden has always thought an awful lot of the horse and I’m told his work at home has been smart from early on in the season.

He hasn’t really reproduced his home form at the races on his last two outings, but we hope that he can step up and show his true running tomorrow.

Of the other runners, I know Shine So Bright well having ridden him to place in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last time out. He’s in top form at home and I think he’ll also run well.

I miss out on a ride in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, but I think it’s a race to really look forward to as we could see another special performance from the world’s best sprinter, Battaash.

In my opinion, as long as he behaves himself in the prelims, I can’t see him being beaten.

A good friend of mine, Michael Murphy, rides him out every day and has done a great job keeping the horse on the straight and narrow. He’s not the easiest to manage but I think they’ve now got the key to keeping a lid on him.

A flat, sharp five furlongs at York will be perfect for him – he’ll have them all off the bridle with two furlongs to go and I can’t see Blue Point reeling him in as he did at Ascot

Next up is The Convivial Maiden Stakes where I ride two-year-old colt Indomitable in the colours of Jeff Smith for Andrew Balding.

He has a lovely pedigree, he cost a fair amount when sold as a foal and ran very nicely on debut at Chelmsford. As is usually the case with Andrew’s two-year-olds he should improve a ton for his opening run.

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is the richest Maiden race staged in Britain and, consequently, there are probably going to be a lot of nice types entered. My horse to follow from Tuesday’s blog, Barys, runs in the race too and I expect him to put up a bold show.

My final ride of the day in the one mile handicap sees me adorn the famous Kingsclere Racing Club colours aboard Urban Aspect.

He’s done nothing wrong in his last two starts, winning nicely on both. His opening handicap mark of 93 looks quite tough but we certainly hope there’s more to come.

Realistically in this sort of race he’ll need to be much better than his mark to get himself in the mix at the business end. That said, the horse’s family is one that Andrew knows inside out and all of his relations have improved with age. We still don’t have a firm handle on how good this lad can be, so let’s hope he can come forward again.

Of the others I think Crack On Crack On, despite being near the top of the weights, could be the possible Group horse in a handicap. His racing record is nigh on perfect and his only poor run came when he completely blew the start at Royal Ascot.

On Saturday I head to Goodwood to ride Beat the Bank in the Celebration Mile, so I miss out on the chance to ride in the £500,000 Ebor Handicap. It’s race I have really great affection for having won in 2015 aboard 33/1 shot Litigant.

The horse that stands out to me and I think will be bang there at the finish is Roger Charlton’s horse Blakeney Point.

If he gets there in the same shape as when I rode him last time out at Goodwood, then I think he’ll take a fair bit of beating. I know that this race has been the ultimate target all year for him and, frankly, there’s nobody better in the game at getting a horse ready for a big handicap than Roger Charlton.


A King Power-owned two-year-old that runs at Newmarket tomorrow on debut for Andrew (Balding) in the hands of talented apprentice, Jason Watson. His homework suggests he knows enough to be very competitive tomorrow, but whatever the result he should improve markedly for the run and is definitely one to go into your tracker for later this year.