THE Irish Oaks is the main attraction on Saturday and I’m lucky enough to have a ride in the Ladies Derby later on the card.
Joseph O’Brien has put me up on Perfect Tapatino, and hopefully I can steer him home!
He was a progressive horse last year and won the Cork Derby this campaign, so clearly has plenty of talent.
Donnacha looked after him on his most recent outing when he was possibly turned out too quickly, and on his best form he has a very good chance.
With any luck he can bounce back and I’m looking forward to riding him.
The interesting two up against him are Royal Illusion, Willie Mullins’ runner who’s improving fast, and Sheila Lavery’s Galeola, who is thrown in the deep end a touch but has won her last two in good style.
In the Irish Oaks itself, you could make a case for quite a few.
Iridessa clearly appreciated the step up in trip when winning the Pretty Polly last time and she ran well through the line.
Another hike in distance shouldn’t be a problem as the further the went the better she looked, and she clearly has plenty of ability.
Interestingly, Harry Bentley has decided to ride Manuela De Vega over stablemate Antonia De Vega.
She ran a massive race in the Oaks at Epsom behind Pink Dogwood, where she was certainly unlucky not to finish closer.
Ralph Beckett’s pair are both improving quickly and could have a big say, as could Ribblesdale 1-2 Star Catcher and Fleeting.
I think Iridessa is the one to beat, though.
Meg on the whip
It wasn’t long ago that there were no whip rules.
But since they’ve been brought in, racing has adapted well. It’s rare for a jockey to go over the limit of seven strikes as no-one wants to pick up a ban.
Only if you’re on a lazy horse and have to use your whip early might you see someone tend to hit over the limit.
Some of the things that have been said recently on the subject have been quite shocking, but I thought Mark Johnston spoke very well.
Charlie Fellowes believes a horse should lose the race if the jockey has gone over the limit but I’m sure if he’d actually had the Sandringham taken away from him he would be quite as vocal about it.
I don’t think taking the race away is the way to go. We, as jockeys, don’t want to abuse the limits we have. We don’t want to hit them more than we’re supposed to. Our intentions are well-meaning.
It’s a bit like the speed limit. If you go 5mph over, you might get a slap on the wrist, but if you go 100mph over then that’s obviously worthy of serious punishment.
If you hit a horse eight times then you should get a slap on the wrist, but if you hit it twenty times then you need to be properly penalised. Most of us are guilty of the former, and if it’s a case of the latter, then the punishment needs to be severe.
Imagine if you hit a horse eight times instead of seven and had a Group 1 taken away from you, it would be ridiculous.
The whip is a big part of a jockey’s safety, too.
I watched a race in Ireland the other day where a horse ran out. If the jockey hadn’t had the whip, then the outcome could have been a lot more serious. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad in the end.
I find it bizarre people are trying to create problems surrounding the whip when there aren’t any.
Earlier on the card, there’s an interesting little Group 3 contest for two-year-olds.
Real Appeal makes plenty of appeal now switched to Jim Bolger.
He won three out of four starts in France and although he wasn’t quite good enough at Royal Ascot, it will be fascinating to see what his new trainer can do with him.
However, the one to beat could be Sheila Lavery’s Lil Grey.
She finished a fine sixth in the Albany and the form of that has worked out well, with Daahyeh finishing second at Newmarket last week and Alabama Whitman having won since.
She gets weight and could be the one to catch.
Pistoletto won his first two starts but hasn’t impressed me massively and for all that the step up to 6f could help, he looks up against it.
Safe Voyage makes the journey over for the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes and it should be money well spent.
He’s a very progressive animal whose form has taken off this year. He will appreciate cut in the ground and any rain that falls will certainly help him.
The form of his last victory has worked out very well and I think he and fellow English raider Hey Gaman should fight out the finish.
Frankie takes the ride on James Tate’s contender, who’s been kept nice and fresh for this and is unbeaten in two starts so far this season.
Over at Newbury, a decent little card opens with the Carnavon Stakes.
Fox Chairman has only had three runs but the inexperience didn’t matter at Royal Ascot last time, when he finished a fine second in the Hampton Court Stakes.
Sangarius was an impressive winner that day but King Power’s three-year-old was still learning and should come on again for that run.
His third behind Circus Maximus and Mohawk at Chester now looks very strong form and hell be very hard to beat.
Pondus was slightly disappointing at Royal Ascot but connections think a lot of him and dropping back to 1m2f will help.
I rode my first winner for Simon Crisford at Windsor on Monday in the shape of Mannaal.
She appreciated the return to a sounder surface and did it pretty nicely.
Last time out she found things happening a bit fast in Listed company when the ground was too soft and was much better back under quicker conditions.
I’ve been riding out at Simon’s for a while and hopefully I can get a few more rides now.
The Marsh Cup is a very competitive contest but Proschema stands out above the rest.
He was a massive eyecatcher when getting no luck in running in the Northumberland Plate and if he gets a bit luck this time then he must have a massive shout.
The Grand Visir was very game at Ascot though doesn’t always put two runs together in a row which is a concern, while Withhold is another to keep an eye on considering how classy he is at his best.
The Tin Man is the one to beat in the Hackwood Stakes.
He has the strongest form and is pretty consistent in the main, so I expect him to go close.
A couple of these who stepped up to the top level at Ascot weren’t good enough but he’s a proven performer at this grade.
Snazzy Jazzy is going to have to improve again but he has claims if finding a little more progress.
The Super Sprint isn’t as competitive as it would first appear, with Ventura Rebel boasting obvious claims.
He won his first two starts before finishing second in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot, form which is more than good enough to take a race like this.
Obviously, you need a fair amount of luck in these contests and he’ll need more than most as he tends to come from last.
Emten’s another to consider. He ran well to finish fifth behind the selection at Ascot and has a nice racing weight.
Jumpers are back
Dad’s got a lot of our jumpers back this week and they’ve all done a bit of work on the walker and have been out hacking.
They’re looking as well as they can at this stage and from here it’s all systems go.
We must have 100 horses in now at least and I’m really looking forward to the season getting going now.
The Curragh is golden on Sunday, too, with two Group 2 contests heading the action.
John Quinn places El Astronaute very well and loves going over to Ireland with him, so must have a big chance in the Sapphire Stakes.
He’s won his last two in grand style and is a real crowd favourite. He bounces out quickly and they don’t often catch him.
I think he’ll be right up there at the business end.
Soldier’s Call also makes plenty of appeal. He ran very well behind Blue Point and Battaash in the King’s Stand and has plenty of zip.
El Astronaute goes a good gallop and I expect Soldier’s Call to get a good tow into the race before pouncing late on.
Move Swiftly was late to start this year but won the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes nicely at Royal Ascot.
The slight drop in trip in the Kilboy Estate Stakes will do her no harm and she’s potentially quite progressive.
The other one to note is Red Tea, who finished behind Move Swiftly at Ascot.
She has great course form and is bound to run a good race again.