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Fillies to the fore on Darley Yorkshire Oaks Day

22 Aug 2018

ROARING LION (Oisin Murphy)

I’ve managed to make some great memories this year, but winning the Juddmonte International with Roaring Lion has got to be pretty close to as good as it gets. Winning Group One races like that are what I’ve dreamed about since I first started riding. I’ll have to do my best to harness that confidence and take it into Thursday’s action.

My first ride of the day sees me get the leg up on Firelight in the SkyBet Lowther Stakes.

She was very green when winning the last time out at Newmarket, rolling around up the finish when I asked her for an effort, but she did well to battle back and win close home.

I think that immaturity can simply be put down to a lack of access to grass gallops over the hot summer (she’d won on the all-weather the time before) and I just think everything was all a little new to her that day. We like her a lot and I hope there’s more to come from her now that she’s got that extra experience under her belt.

I think Angel’s Hideaway’s form entitles her to be at the head of affairs and if Fairyland can come back to her Curragh form then she’d take some stopping too.

In race two I ride Barossa Red for Andrew (Balding). He’s got a couple of racecourse runs under his belt and, for all that he’s improved on each start, I’d still say he might lack a little experience to be able to get to grips with a 20-runner field like this.

That said, I do think this race is wide open. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a less-fancied horse were to take home what’s a pretty massive pot of prize money.

Next race I get to adorn the Godolphin Blue silks as I ride Reach High for Saeed Bin Suroor.

The horse seems in good order at home and he ran well on his reappearance at Doncaster the other day. He’s very lightly raced for a four-year-old and we’d be hopeful that he’s better than the mark the handicapper has him on at the minute.

The big race of the day, the Darley Yorkshire Oaks looks a really top-notch renewal. The two leading three-year-old middle-distance fillies, Sea of Class and Laurens, head the market and on paper appear the pair to beat.

I ride the Lancashire Oaks winner Horseplay, and while she may appear to have a fair bit to find on ratings with the principals, one thing she does have in abundance is stamina.

That staying power could come into play in a big way up the long home straight at York as I think there’s a chance there’ll be something of a burn up early on in the race.

Laurens is a proven front-runner while Flattering and Bye Bye Baby will also want to be handy too. That hard gallop could see the race play into a strong stayers’ hands come the last quarter of a mile. I certainly think we can cause a shock if the race does indeed pan out in this fashion.

Of the remainder, I don’t think you can discount Magic Wand. If she can bounce back to her Royal Ascot form, in which she gave a four-length drubbing to subsequent Qatar Nassau Stakes winner Wild Illusion, then she could be the surprise package.

The next race on the card is the Listed British EBF Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes in which I jump aboard Lubinka for Qatar Racing and Peter Chapple-Hyam. She’s had a good break since she ran creditably in the Musidora Stakes in May and ordinarily she’d be very competitive in a Listed race like this.

However, this year’s renewal has a red-hot favourite in the form of John Gosden’s Lah Ti Dar. If she’s 100% back to her best then I’d be very surprised if she got beaten. She was clear favourite for the Investec Oaks before she got injured in May and I think her owners have some lofty targets for her at the end of the year.

My final ride of the day is Crossing the Line for Andrew Balding in a very competitive Fillies’ handicap.

She won nicely last time out at Chester and she’s consequently been raised 3lbs by the assessor. She’ll need to step forward again to work her way into the placings here, but we’re hopeful that there’s a little more improvement left in her.

Scanning the rest of the field, I think a lot of Saeed Bin Suroor’s top weight, Victory Wave. She definitely sets the standard and should be able to handle the heavy weight in the saddle as she’s a really big strong filly.