ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin reflects on a busy week that took in three days at York and Group One action at Newbury on Saturday
It’s been a terrific sun-filled week, a week where I’m not sure we’ve seen a wow performance, but the action has been really enjoyable.
Tuesday May 14
It started at York on Tuesday when I met a most engaging young woman in Abi Stock, who lost her horse racing loving father, Chris, to pancreatic cancer at the age of 54 last year.
Now she’s going to be riding her father’s horse on June 15 at York in the Macmillan Charity Race in what promises to be a hugely emotional occasion.
Pat Smullen flew himself over to meet her which is one of the hardest interviews I think I’ve ever had to do, but I found them both incredibly inspiring.
Both Pat and Fran Berry walked the course with Abi to give her some race-riding advice on the Knavesmire and you’ll be able to see that video in due course on both Sky Bet and Sporting Life.
Wednesday May 15
Wednesday started with the latest race in Sky Bet’s Road To The Ebor with First Eleven ensuring his place in the million pound race, following on from Ghostwatch who won the first race in the series when landing last year’s Melrose.
It was an appropriate victory in the same week his dam, Zenda, died, and he looks a progressive horse with a real chance of winning the loot.
The big race was the Musidora which I’m not sure clarified the picture for the Oaks. But I like the shape of the Oaks, it’s open, no trainer dominates, and that should make for some fascinating build-up to the Epsom Classic.
Francesca Cumani is mad keen on Cheshire Oaks winner Mehdaayih but I’m firmly in the Maqsad camp after her Pretty Polly win.
Thursday May 16
I was hoping Too Darn Hot was going to blitz them and burst onto the Derby scene in the Dante – and without Telecaster he’d have won by four lengths and be favourite for the Derby.
I can’t decide if it was a good performance and he was just a bit rusty, or if it was a disappointing effort considering his brilliance as a two-year-old. My inclination would be to take him on in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
I had a long chat to Hughie Morrison at Newbury on Saturday and he has to be one of the nicest men in racing. I hope the temptation of the Derby will prove too strong.
They’re clearly going to leave it late and let the horse tell them if he’s ready. The Meon Valley Stud is just the road from me and I’d love to see them win the Derby.
But I’m sure Aidan O’Brien will have watched the Dante with a wry smile on his face. Anthony Van Dyck looks the pick from his battalion and he can triumph at Epsom in two weeks’ time for my money.
Friday May 17
I admit to opposing Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup and I take my hat off to one of the toughest horses I’ve seen.
As Jason Weaver keeps reiterating on ITV Stradivarius has the most brilliant mind. He’s as hard as nails.
Saturday May 18
It was a long journey down from York to Newbury on Friday night but it was well worth it.
A man who loves his cricket, Sir Michael Stoute, was man of the match on Lockinge day and you can sense him plotting the holy grail for Crystal Ocean – a long-awaited Group One victory in either the Prince Of Wales’s or the King George.
His touch with older horses remains as magnificent as ever and there was further evidence of it in the feature, remarkably his eighth Lockinge, 33 years after the first, with the six-year-old Mustashry.
It was his first Group One, but he looks better than ever now and he’ll take some stopping in a below-par older miling division.
Francesca’s heart was broken seeing Laurens beaten, but she’s run a cracker in defeat and the golden girl has set herself up nicely for the season ahead.