Richard Fahey: Size it up
I must start this week's column by paying tribute to Sir Henry Cecil. He and Peter Easterby were the two reasons I wanted to get involved in racing as a younger man.
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Just look at his record, 75 Royal Ascot victories, ten trainers' championships, countless Classic and Group One victories. Ireland had Vincent O'Brien, England had Sir Henry Cecil.
He was an example to us all with how he trained his horses and dealt with people. A great trainer and an even greater man, he is a huge loss.
This Saturday we have a strong team heading to York starting with Cosmic Sun in the Queen Mother's Cup. He's a horse who has had a leg and two wind operations over the year but we've tried him in a tongue tie recently and it seems to be working.
He ran well at York the time before last and went on to win at Carlisle. If he is on his way back to his very best he'd have a big chance here. It's a typically competitive ladies' race and we're drawn wider than I'd have ideally liked but Alison Deniel is an exceptionally good rider and that helps.
Both my runners in the labrokes.com Handicap are stepping up in trip ahead of potential tilts at the John Smith's Cup back here in July. Brae Hill has been running better than his finishing positions would suggest and is in great order. It's a slight drop in grade for him too and we'll drop him in and see if he gets home. Lord Aeryn is our other runner and isn't certain to stay either. He's been running well without winning though and it wouldn't surprise me to see either, or both, go close.
Lady's First runs in the Ian And Kate Hall Macmillan Ganton Stakes. I'd love to see her win. There's very little between three or four of these on official ratings and we've stuck a hood on our filly. Paul (Hanagan) suggested it as he felt she was just a little buzzy the last day. As I said I'd love to see her win but it's a very tight contest.
We've three runners in the Macmillan Charity Sprint Trophy. Mary's Daughter is a law unto herself. She loves the track and will like the ground but has two ways of running. If she turns up and it's a going day she's pretty smart.
I wouldn't mind a bit of rain for Heaven's Guest and Polski Max, just to slow the others down more than anything. The former is in tip top shape at home and has hit a rich vein of form. He's right on the button at home and he'd be my pick of the three.
That said we're claiming five off Polski Max with George Chaloner and, while he's as high as he wants to be in the ratings, he's tough and knows how to win.
Dakota Canyon has been extremely disappointing. He should be winning races with his ability and tries again in the Ice Co Supporting Macmillan Handicap. He has been consistent - consistently bad - of late and has a wide draw to overcome but has the talent to run well in this company.
We've three two-year-olds making their debut in the Reg Griffin Appreciation E.B.F. Maiden Stakes. Bahamian C is nice but quite backward and a little immature physically and mentally. I still hope he can run well.
My Bob Bob has speed and I'm just worried that he might have been better starting at five furlongs. He is another to shown have a level of ability at home. Tony Hamilton has chosen to ride Rufford who worked with some of our two-year-olds heading to Royal Ascot recently and finished about three lengths behind them. Is that good enough to win this York maiden? We'll find out Saturday.
Eric The Grey is our first runner at Musselburgh in the William Hill - In The App Store Handicap. He's in a three-runner field and Mark Johnston saddles the other two so it will be interesting. He' s a horse who doesn't show me a lot at home and I had discussions with the handicapper earlier in the year complaining that 63 was too stiff a mark. He's on 72 now so has been surprising and pleasing me all year.
I'll be disappointed if Size doesn't win the William Hill - Download The App Apprentice Handicap. Lee Topliss rode him in a piece of work this week and was very keen to go up and ride him on Saturday. The handicapper is very rarely wrong but we do think this fellow could be well treated.
Finally we've two runners on the evening card at Leicester. Tatlisu was a little unlucky the last day and if he comes down the hill ok in the Strongbow Handicap then he'll certainly come up it. He'd have a good each-way chance for me.
I haven't had Otto The Great for long and he had a huge blow, for around 25 minutes, after his first run for us at Haydock. He is working better at home now and is a fitter horse for the John Smith's Extra Smooth Handicap but we're still learning about him.