The Jim Crowley column: Poet sounds good

Having ridden 15 winners in the last 14 days, there is no jockey hotter than Bet4Causes Brand Ambassador Jim Crowley.

In his exclusive Racing Plus newspaper column, Jim gives the insight for his Saturday rides and looks ahead to Glorious Goodwood…

Brighton Races


WHILE four of the five Classics have been run, when you are lucky enough to ride good horses, sometimes you can dare to dream.

On Wednesday evening I rode a colt who could be anything. Best Of Days, who made his debut in the seven-furlong maiden at Sandown Park and scored by six lengths, is trained by Hugo Palmer.

By Azamour and out of a High Chaparral mare who was a Listed 1m winner, he should develop into a decent middle-distance performer. He has a good stride on him, showed a lovely change of gear to pick them up and if he had run over a mile he could probably have won by 20 lengths.

Hugo won the 2000 Guineas with Galileo Gold and while it is too early to say if Best Of Days will develop into a Classic contender, he is by far the best two-year-old I have sat on so far this season and is certainly one for the notebook.

These really are the best of days at the moment, as I’ve been fortunate to be riding for some in-form stables and having a few winners over the last couple of weeks.

Today I will be at both Ascot and Salisbury and start the day aboard Poet’s Princess (2.45) in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes.

I rode her first time out and liked her a lot. She didn’t have a hard time because she was quite nervous and Adam Kirby won on her at Newbury next time when I had to be elsewhere. It is a competitive race today against a few who look quite smart. She deserves her chance to run and hopefully she will run well.

It will be good to get back on my old mate Manson (3.20) in the mile handicap. He was beaten by Von Blucher at Newmarket last time when drawn away from him and didn’t get enough cover.

If he could have followed Von Blucher, he might have run a bit closer. Manson is also 7lb better off for that two-and-a-half-length defeat by that rival today, so I’m hopeful he can win.

His trainer, Dominic Ffrench Davis, still has designs on going to the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington next month and this stiff mile on a hold-up track should play to his strengths. I just hope the rain stays away and we get nice ground.

While this is a competitive handicap run over a mile, the Secretariat, for which you have to receive an invitation, is over 1m2f but there is every evidence to suggest he would get that trip. He ticks plenty of boxes and hopefully we can keep the dream alive.

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Balty Boys (3.55), who has a string of duck eggs to his name, runs in the International Stakes. However, he is a fairly decent animal and has been dropping down the weights.

Balty Boys (above, right) was fourth in the Royal Hunt Cup last year and in these cavalry charges, you need to be drawn in the right place and around the right horses. It is an open race but it will be nice if he runs well.

It is off to Salisbury after that. Attest (5.50), trained by Amanda Perrett, is a big horse whom I really like. Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, I rode his first time out here when third to Wave Reviews. He ran a lovely race and has been working really well at home. I’m hopeful of a big run in the 1m2f maiden.

As I have not sat on him, I don’t know much about Eolian (6.50), who will hopefully show a bit more than he as in his first two starts.

Catchment (7.20) is a nice little filly who has been second on her last two starts and she has been working well at home. Amanda’s horses are in good order and it doesn’t look a strong maiden. I would like think she has a decent chance of getting off the mark.

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Algometer in Goodwood test

IT WAS not a great surprise to see Derby winner Harzand not entered for the St Leger. Owned by the Aga Khan, he will likely take his chance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe instead.

It is rare that Derby winners take their chance at Doncaster. Horses are bred more for speed than stamina these days and winning the final British Classic is seen, sometimes incorrectly, as doing little to increase their value at stud.

Could that leave the door open for Algometer (below, centre), who was seventh at Epsom? I hope so. I’ve always thought a lot of the David Simcock-trained colt, who is likely to head to Glorious Goodwood next week.

Close to home, it is a track where I’ve been lucky enough to have ridden some good winners in races such as the Goodwood Cup, the Lillie Langtree and the Glorious Stakes.

Hopefully, I can add the Gordon Stakes to that list on Wednesday with Algometer (3.25) and there are a few potentially nice rides on Thursday, including York winner Pamona (3.45) in the Lillie Langtree, who must have a fair chance if replicating her last run.

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Before that, at Windsor on Monday, I ride the Hugo Palmer-trained Evergate (6.25), who drops back to six furlongs having run a bit too free at Newmarket last time. He obviously thought that was what was required of him as he had previously jumped out and tried to make all at Leicester.

At Newmarket, there were only two horses who’d had previous experience, so all the debutants were either slowly away or didn’t want to lead, so he ended up running with the choke out and got no cover as he was drawn on the outside.

He will be a better horse when he gets a bit of cover and is held up.

Ed de Giles’ horses are on fire at the moment and Prendergast Hill (8.00) bids to follow up his win here last week in a slightly stronger handicap. There is no reason why he shouldn’t follow up.

I have not yet sat on the Ralph Beckett-trained September Stars (7.30), who was runner-up in an extended 1m1f Wolverhampton maiden last time, so don’t know much about him other than what the bare form states. However, if Ralph ran the stable cat, it would probably give you a good run for your money, such is his string’s form.

The five-day Glorious Goodwood festival starts on Tuesday (below). I ride Pleaseletmewin (2.35) for Ralph Beckett in the 7f Group Two Qatar Vintage Stakes. I haven’t ridden him before but he won at Newmarket under Ryan Moore last time and he has had just the four runs, so hopefully he is still learning and will improve again.

Qatar Goodwood Festival - Day 5

Arch Villain (3.45) goes in the 1m6f Summer Stakes. I got too far back on him at Newcastle in the Northumberland Plate when he was bidding for a hat-trick. He has won previously at Goodwood and with Amanda Perrett’s horses in great order, he should go well.

Musical Comedy (4.20) will have to improve a little on his first two runs of the season if he is to have a chance in the 5f handicap. He may just have needed those runs after a long lay-off and to be fair, he was not beaten far by Bashiba at Windsor last time.

Sea Shack (4.55) will hopefully have learned from his debut at Ascot behind Seven Heavens but I don’t know much about him, having not ridden him before.

I would hope that Desert Haze (5.30), a winner at Carlisle and Sandown earlier this season, would have a squeak in the mile fillies’ handicap. She has only had six previous starts and still looks on the upgrade.

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As well as Algometer on Wednesday, Hugo Palmer runs a nice filly called Bithynia (4.20) who was made favourite for her debut when third at Sandown under James Doyle. The daughter of Kodiac cost 210,000 guineas earlier this year and while the 6f fillies’ maiden will no doubt be competitive, she would hold a fair chance.

I am at Sandown Wednesday night where I ride Pensax Boy (7.35) for Ian Williams. He won at Newcastle then was fourth at Newmarket last time, but was not beaten far and he still seems to be improving.

Crowning Glory (8.10) is a tough filly. Trained by Ralph Beckett, she was suited by a strong gallop at Windsor when I won on her last week. She steps up to 1m1f this time and that should be fine for her in what looks a competitive fillies’ handicap.

Readers of this column will know I hold the Lucy Wadham-trained Pumblechoock (8.40) in high regard and he is down to run in a 1m6f handicap. However, he needs some cut in the ground and will not run unless he gets that.

I hope that has given you a little insight into my rides this week. The good run will have to come to an end at some point, but I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.


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The Jim Crowley Column: I’m Berk-ing mad!

Having ridden nine winners in the last six days – including doubles on each the last two days – there is no jockey hotter than Bet4Causes Brand Ambassador Jim Crowley. In his exclusive Racing Plus newspaper column, Jim gives the insight for his Saturday rides…

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By Jim Crowley

HAVING had just two runs in two years, Berkshire (3.00 Newbury) is a horse who now has to answer a few questions following a couple of below-par runs.

Going into this season, the five-year-old was a very capable horse who had only run five times in his life, winning three, including the Chesham and Royal Lodge as a juvenile.

I have always held him in high regard. He was very fresh at Goodwood in May when he was having his first run since October 2014, although that would not have been his track at all.

He was held up on the Polytrack at Deauville last month and disappointed there under Gerard Mosse.

He runs in the Listed Steventon Stakes today and obviously, if he came back to form, he would have a great chance.

I’m hopeful of a good run. It is always hard to be dogmatic about horses who have been on and off the track with issues. In fact, when you are dogmatic, usually it blows up in your face.

He has run twice in the best part of a year for Paul Cole but he has had time to get over both. It looks a winnable 10-furlong race and there would be nothing in the field I would be worried about, if he came back to form.

Berkshire (below) just wants nice ground and he is likely to get it. He sports blinkers for the first time, so I’m hoping they will galvanise him and help reveal his true ability.

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Raucous (3.35) is dropping back to six furlongs for the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes. I rode him over seven in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trained by William Haggas, he ran respectably when behind Ribchester and finished in mid-division. He was third in the Mill Reef over today’s curse and distance (again behind Ribchester) as a two-year-old over six furlongs.

It does look a hot race and you’d have to be more hopeful than confident.

Golden Stunner (2.30) is on a hat-trick, having won her maiden at Nottingham at the sixth attempt and following up on her handicap debut over a mile at Newmarket a month ago. She has gone up 5lb for that, but Ralph Beckett’s horses are on fire at the moment, so you would anticipate her having a favourite’s chance.


Tim Easterby has won the Weatherby’s Super Sprint three times since 1998 and he saddles Ventura Secret (4.10) and Hope Solo in a hugely competitive renewal.

I ride the former, who has had just four starts, but won on his third at Musselburgh before finding the easy ground and a 7lb penalty a bit too much to overcome at Beverley last time.

This is a race in which a lot of horses are only running because they are qualified to do so, but in truth, a few of those probably shouldn’t be running. Hopefully that is not one of mine, but as I have yet to sit on him, I can only go by what the form tells me. It is a very open race, but I would hope I have a chance.

Unfortunately, I have just one ride at Lingfield this evening. Prince Of Islay (6.40) is trained by my sister-in-law Amanda Perrett and will wear a visor for the first time in the 1m6f handicap. He carries top weight and is stepping up in trip. Her horses are running well and even though there are horses with a higher official rating in the field, hopefully this one can win. I can’t get much more dogmatic, can I?

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On a roll

A JOCKEY’S confidence is everything. Any evidence to suggest otherwise is more anecdotal than empirical. Yet it is true, as it is in any sport – any top athlete will tell you so.

A winner gives you a lift and it can snowball. Winners get you better rides and therefore a better chance of riding more winners.

In terms of the number of winners I had hoped to achieve, this season as a whole has been a bit disappointing, but we are getting into the thick of summer now and it is starting to get rolling.

I turned 38 on Thursday (cake was off the menu, sadly), so it was good to celebrate with a brace at Chepstow.

Fortunately I have had a good week or so, with further doubles at Epsom, York and Nottingham, and treble at Windsor.

Last Saturday’s York brace was tempered somewhat by Spanish Squeeze being a non-runner in the John Smith’s Cup. As it turned out, he was well beaten at Yarmouth on Wednesday.

Other than that, everything ran well. Richard Fahey’s juvenile Lucky Mistake ran a stormer first-time-out and was beaten three-quarters of a length. That will be a horse worth following.

Magic Circle looks as though he will keep progressing and may well be a horse for the Cesarewitch.

Pamona was a bit of a revelation. She wasn’t fancied at all. The instructions were “get as close as you can”. She looked to have plenty on her plate in the John Smith’s Silver Cup and she not only surprised me, but also her trainer.

She had been placed in the Ribblesdale last season but had lost her way a bit and on this first run for Ralph Beckett (below), she won quite well.

Doncaster Races

She will now probably go for the Group Three Lily Langtree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, although having picked up a two-day ban on Wednesday, it will rule me out of one day of that meeting. I’m not sure if I will miss the Wednesday or the Thursday yet. But all in all, it is a bit of a pain.

I was pleased Against The Odds won at Windsor, because he had disappointed twice and I’ve always said he was a decent animal. He is going to be a nice stayer and is one to keep on the right side of.

Let’s hope to keep the roll going!

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The Jim Crowley Column: Squeeze-y does it!

In his exclusive Racing Plus newspaper column, Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley looks ahead to Saturday’s big meetings at York and Newmarket. He also pays tribute to Kieren Fallon upon his retirement, plus gives his thoughts on all his weekend rides…

Brighton Races

By Jim Crowley

THE big meetings and top races come thick and fast at this time of year – and this weekend is no exception, with the July Cup at Newmarket, the John Smith’s Cup at York and the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.

While I was at Newmarket yesterday, I will be at York this afternoon and in France tomorrow.

If York rides as well as Newmarket did (all credit to Michael Prosser and his team for producing perfectly safe, fast ground) I don’t think there will be too many complaints.

While Richard Fahey does not have a guaranteed runner in the 57th John Smith’s Cup after Garcia missed the cut, he does have a strong team today and I partner Lucky Mistake (1.55) in the juvenile maiden.

Making his debut, this Fast Company colt is a half-brother to six winners over a variety of trips. I don’t know much about him and whatever he achieves today, he is sure to be better for the experience.

Magic Circle (2.25) goes in the two-mile stayers’ stakes for Ralph Beckett. He is not a bad sort and looked quite progressive until probably unsuited by going up in trip at Ascot last month. Today he drops back to the trip he won over at Haydock last October and will be suited by the track. He could hold a nice chance.

I was really looking forward to riding Manson in the mile handicap but has been switched to Newmarket (3.25) and I will have more than an eye on that race to see if Ryan Moore can steer him home.

Instead, I ride Miss Van Gough (3.00). She is not a bad little horse, a progressive sort, and was not beaten far at Epsom last time. However, Mr Fahey’s representative is drawn 16 which isn’t ideal over the York mile, so that will be an obstacle to overcome.

Pamona (3.40) will have to be at her very best if she is to have a chance in the Silver Cup and it is such a hot race that even her best might not be good enough, particularly with the likes of Barsanti and Curbyourenthusiasm in the line-up. That pair are going to be hard to beat.

But in the 57th John Smith’s Cup, Spanish Squeeze (4.15) would appear to have a very good chance, according to his trainer. Hugo Palmer really likes him and he wanted me to go to York specifically to ride him.

Spanish Squeeze is a very lightly-raced four-year-old who has had a few niggly little problems, stupid things that have kept him off the track, but he has been training well and he could be nicely handicapped.

I’ve also got Kingsgate Native (4.50) as well. At the age of 11, he’s nearly old enough to smoke, but he’s a lovely horse whom I’ve won on before. It would be great to see this grand old campaigner grab another win and hopefully that will come in the Listed 5f City Walls Stakes.

Tomorrow I am at Chantilly, riding First Selection (3.15) in the Prix Jean Prat for Simon Crisford.

He was second to The Gurkha in the French 2,000 Guineas, where we made much of the running and I won’t ride him any differently. Chantilly is a front-runner’s track and if he ran to that form, he will be bang there. While Nemoralia looks the one to beat on paper, she is a hold-up horse, so will need luck in running.

Having won and been second in the race, it would be nice to bag it again.


Wishing Fallon well

KIEREN FALLON’S retirement was not totally unexpected. The six-time champion jockey has been suffering from depression for the last three years and he needed hospital treatment for it.

One hopes that the 51-year-old (above) can get all the help he needs.

In our game, it is mentally tough. It is very brave that he has come out and said he has an issue. Some people keep things bottled up and don’t say anything, so fair play to him.

In any sport, when you have been at the highest level and you are no longer at the top – it happens to pretty much every sportsman – it is probably quite difficult to deal with. You see depression common in ex-boxers, ex-footballers and plenty of other sportsmen, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Kieren was one of the greatest jockeys I’ve ever seen. There have been so many instances of his magic. Kris Kin in the Derby was an awesome ride, his Arc ride on Dylan Thomas was brilliant and all round, when he was in the zone, he was simply the best.

Ask any trainer and they will tell you the same thing: horses ran for him.

When Kieren was behind you in a race, you could always hear him coming, because he perfected his famous whistle – it was quite a common thing and we all miss it.

He was always very good to me. If I asked his advice, he was fantastic. He was quite a kind person to deal with in the weighing room. He was also clean rider, never a dirty one, and would always look after you if you were in trouble in a race. He was good like that.

Everyone has got to stop riding at some point and whatever he does now, he will be a real asset to someone. His knowledge is phenomenal.

We naturally all wish him well but I know one thing: the sport is a little less rich without ‘King Kieren’.

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The Jim Crowley Column: Sympathy for Buick

Top jockey and Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador Jim Crowley provides his exclusive thoughts on his weekend rides each week in the Racing Plus newspaper and on Yahoo Sport UK. In his latest column, he looks ahead to a big day at Haydock Park on Saturday…

Brighton Races

By Jim Crowley

YOU never quite know what goes through the minds of French Stewards. They are always very strict and not for the first time I find myself shaking my head over a decision.

William Buick will miss a large part of the summer Flat season after a 30-day ban imposed on him by the Chantilly stewards was upheld by France Gallop at an appeal on Wednesday.

Buick was deemed to have played a major role in the interference that led Pierre-Charles Boudot’s mount Armande falling in the Prix de Diane on June 19. The ban, initially for 15 days, was doubled after the Godolphin rider’s “offensive” behaviour towards officials, and it begins tomorrow.

I actually feel quite sorry for Will. There was an incident before the fall where his mount, Highlands Queen, was impeded, which I felt was worse. It was unlucky for him that someone came off and you get a mandatory 15 days if one comes down.

These things happen, yet a degree of common sense should prevail in the aftermath.

Will (below) obviously felt frustrated in the heat of the moment and said something he should not, but it is not always easy to keep your cool.

In a race, your blood is up. It is like being in a fight. The adrenalin kicks in and then immediately afterwards you are expected to be calm and composed. You are asked to go from one extreme to another.

If someone cuts you up for example – as happened to Will – you really have to try and bite your lip or count to ten. Even then, when emotions are running high, it is never easy to hold a sharp tongue. Jockeys can get irked or outraged, but in some ways, it is only because they care.

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Will is obviously remorseful and will learn from it, yet as a jockey, I can understand how frustrated he must have felt.

There is no doubt he is going to be missed by racing fans, who have been robbed of a star.

I pay one of my rare visits to Haydock Park this afternoon. Last year I had a couple of winners at the Merseyside track and this will be my first visit of the season.

Duretto (2.50) runs in the Old Newtown Cup and he looks as though he would have a good chance.

Twice a winner at Ascot last summer, he wasn’t beaten far by King Bolete when he made his seasonal debut back there in May, and while I was very hopeful Andrew Balding’s runner (below) would win at Epsom on Derby day, I felt I may have ridden him bit too handily when fifth to Green Light.

He jumped off well and got a good position, but it transpired that he lost a shoe early on, which did not help. He is an improving four-year-old whom I quite like, the 1m4f trip is ideal and he races off the same mark of 94 as he had at Epsom. With the ground is in his favour, I am expecting a big run in what looks a competitive renewal.

Ascot Races

Fairway To Heaven (4.35) will carry top weight in the 6f handicap. I was second on him at Goodwood last year and he was again second at Windsor. After that, he had sore shins, but I think Michael Wigham has got him back and he is very hopeful of a big run.

At Windsor on Monday, I ride Spiritofedinburgh (6.35) for Brendan Powell, who was a decent third at Leicester last time out on only his second start, and he stayed on nicely. That was over six furlongs and he should go okay in the maiden over the same trip.

I also partner Electrify (8.35) for Jeremy Noseda in mile maiden. She is a daughter of Invincible Spirit who cost 52,000 euros as a yearling and her dam was a 1m2f winner and a half-sister to the top-class middle-distance performer Epalo. I have not sat on her, so don’t know much about her, but Jeremy’s stable has been going well of late.

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One for the notebook

Of my winners in the past week or so, the David Simcock-trained three-year-old West Coast Flyer, who scored over an extended 1m4f at Newcastle, is one to keep on your side. I really liked him.

He was a bit of a baby and it took me a while to get him wound up in the extended 1m4 conditions race, but he is a big, scopey sort and I should think he will progress mentally and physically.

West Coast Flyer is a gorgeous-looking son of Cape Cross and he probably won with a bit more in hand than the three-quarters of a length margin suggests. That was only the fourth run of his career and he will improve for going up in trip as well.

There were also a couple of defeats to take on the chin, not least with Arch Villain in the Northumberland Plate. I went to follow one of the leaders and found myself without much room, and got shuffled back after being stopped when making my run. Draw a line through that form as he would have definitely been placed had we not been stopped.

On Thursday, I was involved in a race where most of my rivals carrying a lot more condition, yet I still found myself beaten.

Yes, it was the Dads’ race at my children’s school sports day.

Despite being the fittest of the field, I did not have the best draw, the ground wasn’t right, the trip was not ideal and I probably could probably have done with blinkers and a tongue strap.

I finished (a brave) second.

Fortunately, no-one threw a bucket of water over me to cool me down afterwards, although my wife says gelding is likely to be the most viable option for me now!

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The Jim Crowley Column: Villain is my hero

Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley looks ahead to the Pitman’s Derby in his exclusive Racing Plus and Yahoo Sport UK column, and provides insight into on his rides over the next few days…

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By Jim Crowley

Change is in the air in more ways than one. What the Brexit from the European Union means for racing in this country is unclear.

There is the potential for the economy to have a little bit on a dip initially and I was a little bit sad to see David Cameron resign, as I think he has been a fantastic Prime Minister.

However, things will take time before we see any significant adjustment and it will be business as usual for those buying and selling horses, I should imagine.

There also been a little modification to one of the biggest staying handicaps on the calendar. The Northumberland Plate is now being run on an all-weather surface.

Newcastle’s new all-weather track has been getting very good reviews from those who have ridden on it and, over time, it will be a boon to the northern trainers.

Better known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, the Northumberland Plate was first established in 1833 and it is so known because the local miners were given the day off to go and watch it.

Today, I aptly ride a horse who digs deep when you ask him to.

Arch Villain (4.15) has a plum draw in stall one. Trained by my sister-in-law Amanda Perrett, he has won four of his last six and absolutely loves the all-weather.

He had a tendon injury which kept him off for nine months before he won on his comeback at Lingfield in January (below, right). Then he won a two-mile conditions race off a mark of 98 the following month. He has not run since.

The plan was originally to go for the All-Weather Marathon Championship at Lingfield, but he missed that as he had a minor setback. I would have had a tough choice between him and Moonrise Landing, but I was lucky Arch Villain didn’t turn up and I partnered Ralph Beckett’s horse to victory.

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Arch Villain is very easy ride, Amanda’s horses are running well and I think he’s overpriced at around 16/1, purely because he has not run for four months.

He runs well fresh, he is a prominent racer who stays really well and, if he is going to win a big pot, this could be it.

I’ve also got a ride for Chris Gordon, who is one of the funniest guys I know – he has a terrific sense of humour. He is also not a bad trainer, either.

He does really well with his jumpers, and that is not really a surprise considering he used to be one of the top point-to-point riders in the country.

Chris, whom I’ve known for around 15 years, is based in Hampshire and to my mind, does not get anywhere near the recognition he deserves.

He started off on a small scale buying other people’s cast-offs and building them up. Lightentertainment flew the flag for the stable last season, at one stage winning five of six over hurdles, proof positive that if you give Chris the ammunition, he will get the best out of them and improve them.

He saddles Albahar (3.40) in the in the Northumberland Vase Handicap.

I won on him over two miles off a mark of 78  on the Polytrack at Chelmsford in February and William Buick won a decent handicap on him over the same trip at Goodwood last time off 83. His only runs which were sub-par came on good to firm ground, so you can discount them.

He is an improving horse and likes the all-weather, winning twice in five attempts. He also stays very well, but on the downside, the five-year-old has a bad draw – he’s out in the car park in stall 18.

Despite the trip, a wide draw can have a big impact, particularly at Newcastle. He has also gone up another 9lb for that Goodwood win last month, so will need a career-best to get close. You’d have to be hopeful rather than confident.

We will all have one eye on the Irish Derby. Algometer, my Epsom ride, is not taking part – I think would have been hard to turn the form around with Harzand (5.20 Curragh) – and neither is Us Army Ranger, which is a shame because I felt he was the best horse and it would have been good to see them clash again.

Harzand goes for a Derby double

One for the notebook

Sometimes you get days when horses you think will run well don’t. Other days, you are nicely surprised. On Thursday, Emmie was a pleasant surprise.

I have been lucky for her owner, Mary-Anne Parker, before. In 2012, I rode a filly of hers called Roz, who won nicely and then was second in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

Emmie made her debut at Newbury over seven-furlongs at Newbury and I was quite taken with her after she won really well. I told Harry Dunlop that I thought the daughter of High Chaparral could be very smart and had a job pulling her up. She’ll get further.

Let’s hope there are a couple of nice surprises next week.

Windsor is the destination on Monday and Catchment (6.55) is a nice filly. She has been runner-up on a couple of occasions and should go close in a maiden fillies’ race off a mark of 75. She should go close.

I have a few rides at Brighton on Tuesday with the pick of them appearing to be Sixties Love (3.45), who always runs well there. She has been second on her last four visits and we appear to have got her trip right now. Hopefully, she can go one better.

Canford Belle (2.15) should also go close. She was stopped when making her run last time and she is down to a mark of 55, which is just 1lb higher than when last scoring.

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The Jim Crowley Column: Time for Sleepy

Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley reflects on the Royal meeting and in his exclusive Racing Plus column, provides insight into on his rides at Ascot on Saturday and over the next few days…

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By Jim Crowley

ROYAL ASCOT 2016 provided some great highlights, particularly for Adam Kirby.

He became a father just hours before riding the first of two Group One winners at the meeting and, understandably, he was emotional in the post-race TV interview.

Adam is a better man than he is a jockey – and he’s a brilliant jockey.

So I don’t think there was one person in the weighing room who wasn’t delighted for him when he came home in front on Profitable for Clive Cox in the King’s Stand (below), just hours after his girlfriend Megan gave birth to their son, Charlie.

Adam is a great lad, always helpful to the media and fans of the sport, and would do anything for anyone. He deserves all the success going.

It could not have been a better week for him when he won his second Group One, again for Clive, aboard My Dream Boat in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday.

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If you did not know it already, that jockey-trainer combination is a match for anyone.

I was pleased for horse as well. Incidentally, I rode his sire, Lord Shanakill, who won the Prix Jean Prat in 2009 for Karl Burke. He is now at stud in Pennsylvania. The horse, not Karl!

Despite the soft ground – you have to feel so sorry for clerk of the course Chris Stickels, who does a tremendous job – there were some startling performances. Lady Aurelia looked a superstar in romping away with the Queen Mary and Ardad scorched home in the Windsor Castle.

Caravaggio looked very impressive in the Coventry and he wasn’t stopping when he hit the front in the easy ground. There is no doubt, even at this early stage, he might develop into Classic material.

Abe Lincoln was the highlight for me. It was a case of so near, but yet so far in the Britannia Handicap as Jeremy Noseda’s colt ran an absolute blinder (below) in ground he did not like, coming alone down the centre of the track. He was in front a stride after the line.

Royal Ascot 2016: Day Three

The ground was very much against Manson in the same race. He was 19th of the 28 runners in the end, but he could develop into a smart handicapper. Dominic Ffrench Davis is planning on sending him to the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington in Chicago in August. He will have his day before too long.

I was also delighted with We Are Ninety, who was beaten just over three lengths in the Ribblesdale. There is more to come from Hugo Palmer’s filly, I am sure.

While I haven’t had a winner at the Royal meeting this week, I still have a couple of chances today.

Not So Sleepy (3.05) will have a good chance in the Wolferton Handicap. Last year I won the Dee Stakes on him in very soft ground at Chester for Hughie Morrison (below) and then he ran well at Windsor when finishing in front of Fascinating Rock, who went on to win the Champions Stakes.

He ran a fine race on his return behind Time Test at Sandown and he would be my best chance of a winner.

Seaside Sizzler (5.35) has run well in the Queen Alexandra for William Knight a couple of times and stays well. He won’t mind any cut in the ground and perhaps he’d have an each-way chance if things fall right.

Salisbury Races

Sunday best

I am up at Pontefract tomorrow, where I partner Pumblechook (2.40) for Lucy Wadham. I’ve been looking forward to riding this full brother to Chinese White, who won the 1m2f Irish Pretty Polly Stakes (Group One) in 2010, since he made his debut when third to Wings Of Desire at Wolverhampton.

It could be a good afternoon, as I also ride Duretto (3.40) for Andrew Balding in a Listed 1m4f handicap. He lost a hind shoe at Epsom and he would have a decent chance of gaining compensation for missing the cut at Ascot this week.

Kindly (5.10) was a winner for Simon Crisford at Chelmsford last time and I hope she can follow up on her handicap debut off a mark of 75. She is a progressive filly and I quite like her.

On Monday I’m at Windsor where I ride Sixties Groove (8.20) for Jeremy Noseda. He won nicely at Kempton when stepped up in trip to 1m3f, but he has gone up 8lb for a length victory which seems a little excessive. He is getting his act together now and hopefully he will go in again, as he doesn’t mind any cut in the ground.

At Leicester on Tuesday I ride Hearty (6.10) for Jeremy Noseda, who won last time out in soft ground at Lingfield. He is quite a lazy horse who will only give you what you ask for, but he could run well.

Rule may take time to bed in

There is a new rule that jockeys feel might take a while to bed in.

With the support of the Jockeys’ Association, Andrea Atzeni and solicitor Rory Mac Neice, on Thursday I went to the BHA to appeal a four-day ban handed down by the Nottingham stewards. They had deemed I had committed an improper riding offence, having angled out to get a run on Aristocles, who won a 1m6f handicap on June 1.

To keep it simple, let’s just say there is a fine line between improper and careless riding. A jockey’s job is to do his best for connections and the betting public.

The BHA found that there was “an important and unfortunate discrepancy between the Rule as drafted, and as set out in the booklet used by officials on the racecourse. Clarification is needed as a matter of urgency so that there is alignment between the Rule Book and the Guide”.

So thanks to Andrea, Rory and the Jockeys’ Association, I am free to ride next week.

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The Jim Crowley Column: Scotland the brave

Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley looks ahead to next week’s Royal meeting and gives his thoughts on his Ascot Gold Cup mount.

Here, in his exclusive Racing Plus column, he provides insight into on his rides at York on Saturday, plus what it felt like to ride in his first Epsom Derby …

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By Jim Crowley

SCOTLAND can’t be backed to win the European Championships because they didn’t qualify.

But Scotland has every chance of winning a major trophy, as Friti Hay’s five-year-old holds a chance of landing the Ladies’ Day feature at Royal Ascot on Thursday (4.20) – the Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday.

Trained by Andrew Balding, Scotland has run only once over the 2m4f trip, when the German-bred gelding finished three-and-a-half lengths behind Trip To Paris in the same Group One race last season.

He has had just one run since, when beaten a head over 1m4f at the same track by Elite Army in a Listed race last month. It was a great comeback after 11 months off and if he settles well, I can see him going close again.

I have ridden three winners at the Royal meeting: Prohibit in the King’s Stand (below), Berkshire in the Chesham and Dutch Connection in last year’s Jersey Stakes.

But the race I have always wanted to win is the Gold Cup, particularly as I went so close with Missunited two years ago.

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Receiving the famous trophy from Her Majesty would undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my career, the stuff of dreams.

And if Scotland settles, why not dare to dream that dream?

Monks Stand is in both the Coventry Stakes (3.05) and Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35) on Tuesday. I won on him over 6f on the Lingfield Polytrack and he followed up at Brighton last time under Ryan Moore. It seems likely that Jeremy Noseda might fit a bit of headgear on him, whichever race he ends up in. He’s very talented but let’s just say he has developed a bit of a personality.

I also ride First Selection (4.20) in the St James’s Palace Stakes for Simon Crisford. It will be a tough ask and it will probably be a little different from the Poulians at Deaville where we tried to make all and saw The Gurka sweep past. Hopefully, if he could run a place, that would be great.

Incidentally, if we don’t win that race, The Gurkha would be my best bet of the meeting. I think he has the beating of Galileo Gold and Irish Guineas winner Awtaad. Either way, it will be a fantastic race.

On Wednesday, my Royal Hunt Cup ride is Master The World (5.00) for the master trainer David Elsworth. He went close in the Balmoral here in October and is just the sort of horse that could pop up.

Obviously, it would be wonderful in Her Majesty’s 90th birthday year, to win the Ribblesdale Stakes on the aptly-named Weareninety (Thursday, 3.40) for Hugo Palmer.

She has won three of her four races, including last time at Newbury in a Listed race where we found out plenty about her ability. That was her third run in 22 days – not an easy feat for any horse.

I think she has a great chance as she stayed on really well and enjoyed the step up to 1m2f.

On the same afternoon in the Britannia Stakes (5.00), I have the choice of riding Abe Lincoln for Jeremy Noseda – who is likely to be near the top of the market – or Manson, a lovely horse who is a half-brother to Jack Hobbs, for Dominic Ffrench Davis.

It is a tough decision to make, as I think both will go well.

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Business as usual

THERE is plenty to get through before the Royal meeting.

Today I am at York, where I ride Mindurownbusiness (3.00) for Roger Varian. He is a progressive type who has done the majority of his racing on the all-weather, but has won on the turf. The track should suit and I don’t see why he won’t be bang there.

I’m looking forward to riding Alfred Hutchinson (2.25), who has good course and distance form. He has just joined David O’Meara, whom I think is a brilliant trainer. If anyone can squeeze a little bit out of the tank, I’m sure David will. I’ve known him a long time through jumping together and while it is no surprise to me how well he has done, I’m thrilled he is doing so well.

David O'Meara.jpgI also ride Lathom (3.35) for David (right). He won over 5f at Newbury last July and was not beaten far at Epsom last week, so I’d hope he’d have an each-way chance.

David hasn’t had Tadaany (4.10) long. He was with Derby-winning trainer Dermot Weld, but he has improved them before. He bought one out of Dermot’s last year rated about 53 and he improved it to about 90.

Cajmere (4.45) ran third in a novice’s race at a big price on his debut for Tom Dascsombe, so you’d be hopeful he’ll go well in the 6f maiden.

Finally, the David Simcock-trained Under Siege (5.20) has been beaten favourite in his last three runs, but you would have to think he would hold a fair chance of landing the 6f handicap.

I have a couple of good chances at Salisbury tomorrow. The Lucy Wadham-trained Taffeta Lady (3.15) has been twice third in two quite decent maidens. I think she’ll go close.

On Nottingham on Monday, I ride Burcan (8.10) for Jeremy Noseda. He has run twice and been first and second. He’s a nice horse who will be competitive.

And in the last I ride Atalan (9.10) who won over course and distance last time. He would be my ride of the week. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t win again.

Sandown Races

Sunday racing? Where’s the common sense?

The 2017 Fixture List will see a net increase of around 12 meetings. I have no issue with that.

But what has most of us cheering in the weighing room is that we will get a Flat-free Sunday each month during the summer. That is brilliant news.

Actually, I wish I had every Sunday off, to be honest. I detest Sunday racing. It is good for the public and good for the crowds, but when you have a family and you are racing on a Saturday and a Sunday, you just don’t get to spend time with your children at weekends in the summer. It is the same for stable staff and trainers. To get a Sunday off now and again is going to be tremendous news.

I’ve been saying it for a long time: why don’t we have alternate Jump and Flat Sundays? It is basic common sense.

The issue is that it is the tracks themselves who decide when they are going to race. They have too much power.

You’ll see a Saturday when there is Catterick, Haydock, York and Chester on – and the bulk of the racing be in the North. It is ridiculous.

You have to scratch your head sometimes and wonder if those doing the race planning will ever give those crayons back to their kids.

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Now for the St Leger…

MY first Derby ride, aboard Algometer (above, grey horse, extreme left), was unforgettable. We knew there was going to be a strong pace and the plan was always to sit him in a bit, rather than force the issue, and ride him where he was happiest. He missed the kick a little bit, which didn’t matter and I got a nice run round.

Yet he didn’t travel as well as I hoped he would do. He got quite worked up before the race. He was fine until we walked down to the start and then he completely melted. He was very warm.

While we obviously think he is more of a St Leger horse, he is a little bit better than what he showed at Epsom.

I talked to trainer David Simcock this week and he said Algometer came out of the race okay but was a bit tired. I think he will have one more run somewhere before the St Leger.

Whether he will go to Goodwood or to Newmarket for the Bahrain Trophy, or something like that, I’m not certain. But it would be ground dependent.

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The Jim Crowley Column: Excited for Derby debut

Bet4Causes brand ambassador Jim Crowley has his first ride in the Derby at Epsom this afternoon. Here, in his exclusive Racing Plus column, he gives us his insight on just how he’ll be feeling…

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By Jim Crowley

MY FIRST Derby memory was probably Dancing Brave being beaten by Shahrastani in 1986, but the one I really remember was Willie Carson pumping away on the imperious Nashwan as they romped to victory three years later.

I was transfixed by Carson’s magic again in 1991, as Erhaab weaved his way through and came with a devastating run. While Willie may not consider it one of his best rides, he was still brilliant in my book.

Probably the best ride I ever saw in the Derby was Kieren Fallon aboard the bone idle Kris Kin in 2003. In a field of 20, he had a near coffin draw in stall four and it was fantastic to see him get into the position he wanted.

The Derby is the most historic race in the world and today I’m set to have my first ride in it. Obviously, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve ridden in all the other Classics and hit the crossbar in two of them, so it is lovely to be riding a horse that I think has a genuinely good chance.

I’m not going to bull-up Algometer (4.30). He’s not flash and he’s not impressive, but he is a guaranteed stayer, he will love the ground and he is tough, as he showed at Goodwood when winning the Cocked Hat Stakes (below, centre).

Goodwood Races

There are a lot of chinks in the armoury of a few of his rivals and it is a very open race. I can honestly see some big-priced horses in the shake-up.

Though drawn in stall four and much as I would have liked to have been drawn in the middle a bit more, the tactics will be pretty simple: I am on a stayer, so there is no point doing anything silly like dropping him in or out.

The plan will be to go forward and sit in a position where he is comfortable. There’s no point trying to force the issue. If he can’t go with them, you have to accept it, but the plan will be to ride him very handy, where he’s happiest.

If my lad doesn’t do it, then Newbury winner Ulysses is very unexposed. Sir Michael Stoute’s runner could go and win by six lengths. If he wins, he could be very impressive.

I don’t fancy either of the first two in the market, Wings Of Desire and Chester Vase winner US Army Ranger (below, right). It is interesting that Ryan Moore rides the latter, who looked green on the Roodeye, so his homework would suggest he is working better than the other Aidan O’Brien Derby contenders, including the horse he beat, Port Douglas (below, left).

Chester Races

The Dermot Weld-trained Harzand looks interesting. He did really well to win at Leopardstown on heavy ground last time, scoring very easily in the end. He has a similar profile to Algometer in that he looks more of a St Leger type, but he could easily be in the shake-up, as could one of the O’Brien outsiders, Port Douglas and Idaho.
It is hard to pick one, but there are lot of horses I don’t fancy.

Take a look at the runners and riders for the Derby.

I have a couple of other rides and Duretto (5.15) would have a very good chance of landing the 1m4f handicap. He was a length and a quarter behind King Bolete at Ascot last time. We were a little bit wrong in the weights and I got caught three wide on him. He will be bang there today and he’s a nice horse. I’m normally quite lucky on Derby Day – I have won this race twice before and also the finale twice.

In that 6f handicap I partner Charles Molson (5.50), who got a bit intimidated at Goodwood last time when Seeking Magic hung right across the track. We dropped back and then got hampered. He’d have an each-way chance.

Today, I will do what I do most days; get there early, have a run round the track and get in a zone. The Derby will be my first ride of the day, but having time to think isn’t going to matter. I’m pretty laid back. Once you get on the horse, you don’t do anything differently. The bigger the race, the cooler you have to be – ice cool like those legends Carson and Fallon.

Perhaps I can take a leaf out of their book and then, with luck, Algometer might be able to write his own piece of history.


Sunday service at Goodwood

ON Sunday I am at Goodwood, always a good day out.

Van Dyke (1.50) has mark of 76 and he runs in a 1m2f maiden. Off such a mark, he’d be liable to bumping into an unexposed horse who might be a bit better. He stays well, but will probably improve for racing.

Persian Breeze (2.20) was rated 84 on the Flat John Gosden and has subsequently gone jumping. Horses who come back to the Flat after having had a couple of years to mature, often enjoy the experience. A bit of time to mature and fill out does them good and Lucy Wadham does really well with those types of horses. Persian Breeze runs off a mark of 75 and it would not be a surprise if she ran a big race in the 1m3f handicap.

Shades Of Silver (3.30) is a good stayer, a consistent horse who likes a bit of cut in the ground and will make a cracking jumper one day. He ran off a mark of 89 last time and he is only 1lb higher than when second to a good horse in Steve Rogers at Kempton. He will be competitive in the 2m handicap.

Czech It Out (4.35) is not a bad little horse of Amanda Perrett’s, but things need to fall right for him in the 7f handicap. I should have won on him at Newbury last year but he did not get a very good ride. He needs cover and producing late, and I did that, but to the extent we ended up not getting a clear run. He could run okay. He’d have an each-way squeak… if he feels like it.

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I’m at Brighton (above) and Windsor on Monday. The pick of the rides is Kindly (8.30 Windsor) in the 6f heat for three-year-olds. Trained by Simon Crisford, she has had two starts and won well last week at Chelmsford. I like her. She made the running last time and I’m hoping she will keep progressing and pick up a bit of Black Type down the line.

On Tuesday, Sixties Love (7.50) ran very well last time at Sandown and just blew up under Pat Smullen. I also ride Brittleton (8.20) for Harry Dunlop who ran a bit fresh last time and better can be expected.

Croatia can go a long way

I am a big football fan and thoroughly enjoyed the end of the season, as Arsenal did what they always do, finishing above Spurs. Ryan Moore also supports the Gunners. Our agent, Tony Hind, is a Tottenham fan. So that put a smile on our face for days.

When I have time – and when I am allowed – I will be avidly watching Euro 2016, which starts next week.

Whoever finishes top of Group D would appear to have a magnificent chance of reaching the semis at the very least, so look around for anyone offering each-way terms on the first four places.

To me, Croatia look a big price at around 25/1. I guess you would have to have a saver on Spain, as they are the biggest danger in Group D, but if the Croats do finish top, they should beat the best-placed third team from Group B, E or F. They will then face one of Romania, Switzerland, Albania, Northern Ireland, Poland or Ukraine – and they can win against any of those games.

After that, it’s a straight shoot-out to reach the semis.

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As for the top scorer, Mario Mandzukic (above) is way too big at 40s, given that I think the Croats will go a long way.

Gareth Bale and Ibrahimovic will be short prices to finish as top scorers for their countries, but they are nailed-on. Bale takes free-kicks and penalties, while Ibrahimovic, who could be joining West Ham if rumours are true, needs just three more goals to equal Michel Platini as the top goal scorer at Euro finals.

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The Jim Crowley Column: Algometer? No pressure

We are delighted that top jockey Jim Crowley is the Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador. Each Saturday, you can read Jim’s exclusive columns here, in the Racing Plus newspaper and on the Yahoo Sports UK website…

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By Jim Crowley

ALL ROADS lead to Epsom next weekend and the Investec Derby. Will he or won’t he? David Simcock isn’t saying.

Not because he does not want to – it is because he genuinely doesn’t know.

Algometer gave me a good feel at Goodwood when landing the Cocked Hat Stakes, formerly known as the Predominate Stakes.

In pure form terms, I would not read too much into his half-length win. There were only four runners and it was a bit of a muddling affair. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

However, Algometer did all that was asked and while the team will do what is in the best interests of the horse, from a purely selfish point of view, I hope the unsettled weather forecast is right and we have a drop of rain next week.

At the Breakfast With The Stars gallop on Tuesday it rode good to soft and if it stayed that way, I don’t think we’d complain.

For now, just as Dermot Weld is doing with Harzand, we are playing a waiting game.

David Simcock said yesterday: “He has come out of Goodwood in really good form. There was a lack of pace, but he came out of it with plenty of credit, and was given probably less credit than he actually deserved.

“We know he will stay the trip and he will look better the further he goes. What he does have is a very willing attitude and it is fair to say that he is not a horse you are likely to get to the bottom of.

“Will he run at Epsom? He will be left in the race on Monday and we will keep an eye on the weather. If Epsom produce good ground, then the Derby will certainly be under consideration.”

Algometer (below), who is 25/1 with Bet4Causes, reminds me a touch of Silver Patriarch, who went so close to winning the Derby for John Dunlop and Pat Eddery in 1997, before going on to land the St Leger. Not just because he is grey, it is that he has the same tenacious attitude and, should he run, he will certainly be staying on at the finish.

There is work to be done before that, however. This evening I have a fair book of rides at Salisbury.

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Second Thought (5.50) will make his debut for William Haggas in the five-furlong novices’ event. He does not have the best draw, but has a nice pedigree and the dam was out of a half-sister to the smart 1,000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern.

Vincenzo Coccotti (6.20) was a little bit free in his races last year but did not appear to relish the heavy ground at Newbury in a 6f handicap in August. He has his first run since September in a six-furlong handicap against rivals who will all have a fitness edge.

Similarly, Malakky (6.50) is making his seasonal debut for Brian Meehan, having run in a hot Newbury maiden last June, a race that has produced plenty of subsequent winners. Brian has hit the post with a few lately at big prices, so I’m hopeful he’ll go well.

I have not ridden the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Doesyourdogbite (7.20), who had been running in France prior to his first run in seven months at Windsor, where he was beaten a long way. I wouldn’t read too much into that. He might have half a chance in the 1m6f handicap.

Author’s Dream (7.50) will improve for going up in trip now that he has his handicap mark. I’m hoping he will run very well and he looks the type to make progress. He will get two miles in time and he would not be without a chance.

At Chester today, Gunnery (4.35) is my nap of the weekend. I think he will take a bit of beating in the 1m4f handicap.

While at Haydock, Home Of The Brave (3.10) can follow up his comfortable Leicester win in the John Of Gaunt, and with Hugo Palmer in such good form, Gifted Master (3.45) looks the one in the Group Two Sandy Lane Stakes.

On Monday, I am at Windsor and Lady Macarpa (4.05) looks the pick of my rides. She is a very quick filly and we are on a bit of a fact-finding mission in the 5f Sprint Series Handicap.

She is quite useful. The ground was probably a bit too lively for her in a very good race at York, were she showed a bit too much speed, so I think I’d like to try and drop her in if I can.

Finally, don’t miss the Lucy Wadham-trained Minstrels Gallery (7.40 Wolverhampton) on Tuesday. He is on a three-timer and I’d be disappointed to see him beaten. He still looks on a decent handicap mark of 75 compared to his hurdles mark of 129.

Sammy Jo will be back

FALLS are part of racing. We have all had them from time to time, some more serious than others.

When you see the injuries sustained by Sammy Jo Bell, it brings into focus just what a dangerous job this can be sometimes.

Sammy Jo fractured her pelvis at Carlisle a week ago when her mount Royal Duchess reared leaving the parade ring and fell on top of her, fracturing her pelvis.

She has had an operation to have a plate inserted and apparently will spend the next six weeks in a wheelchair before she can begin rehabbing.

Richard Fahey’s apprentice is one of the best female riders to come along for years. All of us in the weighing room hope that Sammy Jo (below) makes a full recovery and will soon be able to continue her burgeoning career.

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Winners galore

IT HAS been a rather productive week with four winners in five days, so I can’t complain.

Hughie Morrison’s Atalan won nicely at Nottingham last Sunday and could make into a nice staying horse. He could be quite progressive.

Hard Toffee won a seller at Lingfield on Wednesday for Conrad Allen. He’s a big horse and wasn’t suited by the slow pace in a quartet of bumpers. Having ridden over the jumps, I’ve never did quite understand why they often went so slowly in bumpers. He enjoyed the better ground and he’ll continue to pay his way on the Flat. He’s a bit better than selling standard.

I’m pleased to say I had a double at Chelmsford on Thursday thanks to Kindly and Lady Lunchalot. As hoped, Kindly built on the promise of her Lingfield debut and we made all to win a 6f maiden. Simon Crisford sees her as similarly progressive and she should make her mark in handicaps.

Lady Lunchalot settled well in her 10f fillies’ handicap and she enjoyed going past her rivals. She likes going left-handed and she stayed on nicely. She’ll get a bit further and she won off a 4lb higher mark last season.

Let’s hope we have a few more to talk about next week. Fingers crossed.

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The Jim Crowley column: My Berkshire monster

We are delighted that top jockey Jim Crowley is the Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador. Each Saturday, you can read Jim’s exclusive columns here and in the Racing Plus newspaper…

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GOODWOOD is close to my heart and close to home – it is always a pleasure to ride there and I have a decent book at the West Sussex track this afternoon.

I’m obviously thrilled to once again partner the Paul Cole-trained Berkshire (2.15). He is a very exciting horse who has only run five times in his life, winning three, including winning the Chesham and Royal Lodge as a juvenile.

As a three-year-old, I went into the Greenham thinking he would win – he was that good – but something was wrong with him that day. Afterwards, he had six months off before coming back to win a Group Three standing on his head.

He is an absolute monster (pictured below) and while he has not run since October 2014 and is now five, apparently he has been going well at home and should enjoy any ease in the ground. If he replicates his form in the Listed Festival Stakes, he will take a world of beating.

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Bateel (2.50) was a little unlucky last time, when she got stopped in running here when bidding to remain unbeaten. Trainer David Simcock likes her and she looks as though she has a chance in the Listed Tapster Stakes. She is a nice ride to pick up.

Mark Johnston’s Dawaa (3.25) is a front-runner who was not beaten far at Doncaster last time over a similar seven-furlong trip and is a fair horse. Mark has a great record at Goodwood and is one of the easiest trainer’s to ride for. You know how his horses have to be ridden – don’t push, don’t pull – and you know they will always be ready to do the job.

Chica De La Noche (4.00) makes her debut for Simon Dow in a six-furlong novices’ race. She is a nice filly and has worked very well, but it is hard to gauge how good she is, because it is her first run. By Teofilo, she has a nice enough pedigree and is a sister to 5f and 1m winner Upward Spiral. Whether she will be good enough to win first-time-out I don’t know – but she is certainly a filly for the future.

Not having ridden Scrutinise (4.35), I don’t know too much about him. He won a handicap off a mark of 87 here last September and may have needed the run at Epsom on his seasonal return, but he runs off the same mark of 93 today. Ed Dunlop’s runners have been going well, though.

There is a veteran’s handicap after that. These races are a wonderful idea, especially for sprinters, who tend to get better with age.

I’ve seen geldings win races such as the Prix de l’Abbaye and when they get older, the last thing you would do with them is chuck them out in a field and expect them to have a life as a hack. Good luck if you try – they are used to doing 0-60 in two seconds!

Keep It Dark (5.10) is only seven, so hardly a veteran, but it is a really good idea to have more races of this nature for ‘veteran’ sprinters like him.

Finally, Sweet Dragon Fly (5.45) would appear to hold a good chance in the seven-furlong fillies’ maiden. She was second on her Wolverhampton debut to a decent type in Ian Fleming. On good ground, she’d nearly have a favourite’s chance.

No doubt we’ll all try and see what happens at the Curragh. Air Force Blue will bid to show his Newmarket run was all wrong when clashing with Galileo Gold (5.40) (pictured below, far right) again in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but I’d be surprised the latter is turned over.

Tomorrow, Ballydoyle (1.55) can go one better in the Irish 1,000 Guineas than in the English version and Found (3.40) looks a good thing in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. She was very impressive last time and she would be my weekend banker.

Galileo Gold.jpgAlgometer for Epsom?

ALGOMETER passed his Classic Trial test in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.

It was a workmanlike performance and I knew it would be. Trainer David Simcock wanted me to get a lead and they went no great pace, so it turned into something of sprint, but he found plenty for me to win by half a length on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for him.

A stronger pace will suit him and the further he goes the better he will be. I think he would come into his own on slower ground.

In fairness, it was a good performance against three rivals. People half expect you to go and win by five lengths, but a horse can still be impressive when not winning by a wide margin.

Goodwood Races

Connections have not ruled out the Derby for Algometer (above, centre).

Mr Simcock and owner Kirsten Rausing will keep an eye on the weather and I think his main objective will be the St Leger.

However, if the ground was not rattling fast and he did turn up at Epsom, I think he will do himself justice.

I’d love him to go there – there is only one Derby – but it is not up to me. Even so, there are plenty of nice races for him and he is a horse who is sure to progress.

Vote for Chappers

I AM just about old enough to remember World of Sport and old ITV Seven accumulator.

John Rickman, Bough Scott, John Oaksey and Derek Thompson were the presenters, and the commentaries were brought to our living rooms by John Penney, Raleigh Gilbert and Graham Goode. All were exemplary and you thought of them as you’re your friends.

Their enthusiasm shone through and the presenters taught the layman the intricacies without ever making it seem a high-brow sport or talking down to their audience.

Matt Chapman.jpgChannel 4 has done a great job promoting this great sport of ours since 1985 but, after 31 years, it will soon be back on ITV.

We all have our favourites and while I have rarely had the opportunity to talk to him, Matt Chapman (right) should have been given the opportunity long ago to front mainstream TV racing.

While Marmite to some, the At The Races presenter is a character who is always honest and outspoken with his opinions. He calls a race as he sees it and, whether he is right or wrong, it is refreshing to see someone with so much passion for the sport introducing it.

There is no doubt Matt is someone who connects with the public – and that’s what presenting is all about.

Thrilled with First Selection

IT HAS not been a bad week. We Are Ninety won her Listed race at Newbury last Saturday and is likely to head to the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Monks Stand scored at Lingfield on Tuesday, despite trying to bury me on the way to post.

He needs to mature mentally and will be a decent horse when he does.

Sandwiched in between was a trip to Deauville and while we did not win the Group 1 Poule D’Essai Des Poulains, I could not have been happier with the Simon Crisford-trained First Selection.

While a good horse in his own right, having won the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown last season, he is pretty one-dimensional and is a free going sort who likes to be on the front end.

I’d pretty much made the running on him when seventh to Galileo Gold in the English 2,000 Guineas, when we went hard – and that’s what was so impressive about Galileo Gold, who laid up with him. At HQ, we’d set very strong fractions.

But in France, sent off a 50/1 shot, he did not get any competition for the lead and he settled well, so I was able to go through the gears on my terms and that made all the difference. He finished a fine second to an exceptional colt in The Gurkha, who is now joint-favourite for the Derby.

I’m not sure where First Selection will go next. He would have penalty in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, or connections might tilt at windmills and chuck him in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

We were lucky that everything went well, but if you take the winner out, there were still some fairly useful horses behind him.

As he is by Diktat, I would like to see him run on soft ground, as he might improve for a bit of cut.

Either way, I could not have been more thrilled with him.

This Sunday promises to be a little different. I am at Nottingham to ride a couple and Atalan (2.50) would probably be the best of them. He is a nice, big, staying type and the 1m6f will be ideal for him. Hughie Morrison’s horses are running really well and he had a double there last week.

Atalan is nice horse and is one of those where you only get out what you put into him. He takes a bit of stoking, but he could progress this season.

I will be busy at Windsor on Monday and Frozen Force (6.45) should be one of my better rides. He won well at Brighton last time and is nice stamp of a horse, despite being a bit of a thinker. Amanda Perrett’s are running well, so he should give me a good spin.

Dutch Masterpiece (7.15) could also have a squeak – he’s not a bad little horse on his day.

Hopefully, they will all run well. Fingers crossed!

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