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Roaring into the Craven Meeting

16 Apr 2018

It always amazes me how quickly the season comes back round. Although it’s been a long, cold winter, the last couple of months have flown by and now the 2018 flat season is well and truly in sight. Once the Grand National is run it means that the Craven meeting at Newmarket is here and it’s time to get properly excited about what 2018 could bring.

Speaking of Saturday’s Grand National- what a race!  I have to admit I was a bit gutted to see my very close friend David Mullins go so close to winning the big prize, it was a brilliant ride on Pleasant Company. Full credit to both him and the fantastic Davy Russell who played out a pulsating finish on the big stage at Aintree.

Back to business and we’re under 3 weeks away from the British Champions Series opener on the Rowley Mile and the QIPCO Guineas Festival. This year I’m particularly excited as I have horse with a real shot in the first British Classic of the season with Roaring Lion. He was so good for us last season and we’re expecting big things from him in 2018.

He begins his season this Thursday in the Craven Stakes, and I cannot wait to get back on him again. He pleased me the other morning when I sat on him and seems on good form going into his first race of the year.

As the market would suggest (currently 4/7) he has a very strong chance in this Group 3, but also he’s right up there in the antepost QIPCO 2000 Guineas markets too. He’ll likely be running against horses he has faced before like Saxon Warrior for thatand on that form he’s entitled to put up a big challenge on the Rowley Mile in May.  He’s a big, strong horse and hopefully there’s a little bit of improvement to come before then.

It would be wonderful to have a Group 1 winner in Britain. A race like the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas is right up there on my wish list and is a very important race in the calendar. But one step at a time, and we’ll be looking to get a good run into him in a competitive Group 3 on Thursday at the same track.

A few years ago I didn’t have one ride at this meeting, so I’m really chuffed to have a so many booked in for this week, and some real chances too! Thankfully, I’ve had some great support from a number of trainers and I’ll be looking to repay them the best way I can; by riding well and landing some winners!

On Tuesday I am particularly excited about my ride for Ralph Beckett in the bet365 Handicap, Taurean Star. He has a lovely weight tomorrow and Ralph’s horses are going really well at the moment. I’m glad to be getting the leg up on him and I think he will go well.

Treasure Chest, like most of the competition at this stage of the season, doesn’t have any racecourse experience so is a tough one to assess. We do like this horse at home and having sat on him I do think he has a future. He could be a bit on the green side tomorrow, but will be all the better for the experience.

Isomer for Andrew Balding has been upped 5lbs for his 2nd at Kempton last month, a run that he certainly needed. We’re on a real fact finding mission tomorrow with this one but he seems like a nice horse, and not without a chance.

Looking at Wednesday, and I ride Naggers in the first for Paul Midgeley. He’s a trainer who does really well with his sprinters, they may not have hit top form just yet but it’s only a matter of time. Like any of these races there’s an element of luck and how the horse is on the day, but I’ll be riding him positively and giving him every chance if he’s in the mood.

Hikmaa I ride for Ed Vaughan in the Nell Gwyn, who is a family friend, so it would be extra special to ride a Group winner for him. I galloped her the other day, and she seemed ready to race. She’ll probably want a touch further than this in time, but we go there with every hope of a big run. It’s always nice to have rides in these Guineas trials.

Obviously, on Thursday I’m extremely excited to be on Roaring Lion in the Craven Stakes. He’ll be ready to go in this, and we should see the best of him. This is a competitive race as always, but I’m confident he will go well and show his credentials as a Guineas contender.

Horse to follow: Guilded Hour Kempton, Wednesday 7.15

Having sat on her last week she seems to have done well from a two to a three-year-old. She was a bit disappointing last year at Doncaster, but I like her and I’d be surprised if she can’t win a maiden at some stage.