Richard Fahey column ahead of Ribchester's QEII run at Ascot on QIPCO Champions Day

Will William Buick be celebrating again on Saturday?
Will William Buick be celebrating again on Saturday?

"If this doesn't rock my boat then nothing will" - It's fair to say Richard Fahey is looking forward to Champions Day. Check out his latest column.

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It’s Champions Day at Ascot and hopefully we’ve got one that lives up to that billing in Ribchester who bids to go one better than when just beaten in last year's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

He bumped into Minding that day and I think she was an exceptional filly – I certainly wouldn’t mind owning her anyway.

Ribchester’s in great order, he’s taken everything extremely well and he looks fantastic. The rain that’s expected at Ascot doesn’t bother me at all but in all honesty I’d have loved to have seen him again on fast ground.

I feel his very best performance of the season was in the Queen Anne when breaking the track record on that really quick going we had in the middle of the summer. But there are no concerns at all over the going, he’s such a true professional and a very, very good horse.

The one real blot on his copybook this year was his defeat at Glorious Goodwood but I quickly put a line through that. You have to look forward in this game, there’s absolutely no point in looking behind, that’ll do you no good.

And it was good to get him back to winning ways in France last time. It’s been the usual routine since then, we did take him away for a day the other week, just a grass gallop nearby, but it was just to get him off the place. These Group One horses just need to get away once in a while for a nice change.

John Murphy takes him out every day and Tony Hamilton rides him in his fast work, and all I’ve been hearing is positive noises so it’s all systems go. If this doesn't rock my boat then nothing will!

Celebration time for the Ribchester team
Click on the image to back Ribchester for the QEII with Sky Bet

Looking at the opposition, we’re facing Churchill for the first time and he’s definitely a danger dropping back in distance. He’s a dual Guineas winner and a very fine horse.

As for Ribchester’s future, plans still have to be made. Everything has to be discussed after the weekend but he doesn’t look like he’s had a long season and he actually appears bigger and better than he did six months ago.

We’re running Toscanini in there too and he’s no mug but clearly he’s going to ensure there’s a decent pace to the race.

We’ve got a couple in the Balmoral Handicap, as well as first reserve Stamp Hill, with Gabrial under Jamie Spencer and Paul Hanagan riding Withernsea.

They’d have to cancel the meeting if Gabrial couldn't go as he’s been there so many times and he’s actually finally getting a little bit of help from the handicapper.

What I would say is that I’m not convinced he’s drawn brilliantly in stall 23. I’d be worried that could be high enough but Jamie loves riding the track so let’s hope they go a proper gallop and allow him to pick his way through.

Withernsea looks potentially better off in stall 10 and Paul gets the best out of him. He’s not handicapped out of things either and handles ease in the ground no problem. They both appear to hold pretty decent each-way chances.

I Was Only Joking makes her debut at Catterick in the toteplacepot Novice Median Auction Stakes and I’d be surprised if she was up to winning first time. She had a small setback earlier in the season so it’ll be good to get a run into her.

Crotchet isn’t ideally drawn as she’s out wide in the totescoop6 Play Today EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes. She got up close home first time out at Nottingham and the move up to seven furlongs should be to her benefit.

Theos Lolly and Northwest Frontier run in the toteexacta Handicap – the former has nothing hidden from the handicapper, he is what he is, but Northwest Frontier might have a bit of improvement to come and he definitely got bogged down in the ground at Ayr. He might be able to go close back over a mile and a half.

Flyboy is a good, hardy horse and he’s joined by Lady In Question in the totetrifecta Handicap. They’re both drawn well and the filly is nice and consistent so I’d be expecting another solid run, though she wouldn’t want the ground to get too soft.

Ocean Voyage is our only runner on the evening card at Wolverhampton as she tries to follow up her narrow Carlisle debut win in the FCL Global Forwarding Novice Stakes.

This looks quite a warm race and the penalty makes it harder for her in against some nice-looking colts here but we weren’t surprised at all that she was good enough to win first time out and she’s a very genuine filly, who we like.

Reflecting on last week briefly and I though It Don’t Come Easy ran well in defeat at York. It’s encouraging to see him back running well again and we’ve entered him in the 32Red Casino Conditions Stakes (All-Weather Fast-Track Qualifier) at Newcastle on Tuesday so it would be great to get him qualified nice and early before the winter.

He was a fraction disappointing during the middle part of the season after a decent run in the Norfolk, but he has bounced back well and we were happy with his last two performances.

It is a great incentive from the All-Weather Championships having this Fast-Track Qualifier so early, and it would be a coup if he could win it as I would like to give him a break and then aim for the final.

We've only had a couple of jumpers this summer and just have three or four to go hurdling but it was nice to see Judge Earle make a promising debut over hurdles at Wetherby on Wednesday.

I’m delighted for the owner, David Armstrong, I thought the horse jumped really well and we came away quite encouraged by the performance.

Money Back at Ascot
Money Back at Ascot

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