Angel's Delight

Angel's Delight

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Angel’s great run has given yard enormous lift

Paco’s Angel ran a great race to finish third in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.

Her performance, along with the eight winners that we’ve sent out in the last fortnight, has given everyone in the yard a huge lift.

I couldn’t be happier with how things are going at the moment. The Sandringham was the right race for Paco’s Angel and I thought she was well enough handicapped to run well off 97.

She got that mark after landing a Windsor maiden, a Goodwood handicap and finishing fourth in Newmarket’s Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes.

The filly who won the race on Wednesday, Con Te Partiro, raced off 102 after finishing runner-up at one of the most prestigious meetings in the world, the Breeders’ Cup, and unfortunately was just that bit better treated than us.

I always want to win, but I said in last Saturday’s column that anyone who ends up in one of those four spots in the Ascot winner’s enclosure is likely to be delighted. Indeed I was. Paco’s Angel did us all proud.

I just told Shane [Kelly] to “have an open mind and ride on your instinct as it unfolds”. He did it perfectly.

The ground was really quick that day. I walked across it with my wife and her high heels didn’t go in at all.

Very quick ground at Ascot is okay by me as the track is flat with no undulations or ridges.

Paco’s Angel seemed fine on Thursday morning, and we’ve a few options for her now depending on how she bounces after Ascot.

Nothing is set in stone, but we’ve two races provisionally pencilled in - the Distaff on Eclipse day at Sandown on July 8 and the Valiant Stakes back at Ascot on July 28.

We had a super week with a winner at Windsor on Monday in Marie Josephe, a winner down at Brighton on Tuesday via Let’s Be Happy, a third at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, and a winner at Lingfield on Thursday in Debonaire David.

Goodwood Crusader bids for five-timer

Goodwood Crusader has been a revelation, winning his last four starts, and we’re turning him out quickly after his Leicester win in Newmarket’s 6f handicap (5.20) on Saturday.

It’s hard to believe he was regularly getting beat off marks in the low 60s at the beginning of the year.

The little horse has got his confidence now, and hasn’t looked back since winning for the first time at Bath in April.

We’ve learned how to ride him now - he needs time in his races to warm up, so the riding instructions are to let him be where he wants to be - and Finley Marsh has struck up a good relationship with him.

Goodwood Crusader was rated 65 when he won his first race, and is now up to 87. His main target is a £100,000 race at Newmarket’s July meeting, and the bottom weight in that contest last year was rated 88.

That statistic has basically forced my hand to run one more time before then, but I don’t mind one bit.

He’ll get used to the track on Saturday and, if he wins, his new rating will ensure he’ll get into the race.

Even if he gets beat there’s a real possibility he could sneak in at the bottom so hopefully it will prove a win-win situation.

Angel’s Quest also goes to Newmarket to contest the one mile fillies’ handicap (3.20), and I think she’s got a great chance.

She was very unlucky at Wolverhampton last time when finishing third to Inshiraah in a 7f maiden.

The winner and runner-up were both drawn low, while we were burdened by stall nine. She didn’t get the best run round, but finished strongly. She’ll go very well.

We’ve also got a couple in at Lingfield on Saturday night, namely Tojosimbre in the 1m4f handicap (5.45) and One Big Surprise in the 5f handicap (8.50).

Their participation is weather-dependent, though. I’ve heard there could be plenty of storms about.

Ryan’s ride on Thomas Hobson sublime

What a ride Ryan Moore gave Thomas Hobson in the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday.

Speed kills, and Ryan knew after just a few seconds of the race that they were going too quick in front.

It was the way in which he dropped his horse out and sat so detached from the field which made it so special.

It’s far easier to drop one out when you’re on a 33-1 outsider, but he was riding the 4-1 favourite for a prestigious handicap at Royal Ascot.

He knew he was going the right pace, while those in front of him were not. He gave Thomas Hobson a great ride.

Jamie Spencer excels on Ascot’s straight mile and, even though he beat us [Paco’s Angel], I thought he was brilliant aboard Con Te Partiro in the Sandringham.

I was absolutely thrilled for the Hannons when Barney Roy took the St James’s Palace Stakes on day one.

He is a huge, high-profile horse for them, and was a bit unlucky in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket where he didn’t get the rub of the green and stumbled on only the third run of his life. Richard waited for Ascot, and that patience paid off.

It brought back many great memories watching the Hannon team celebrating. Of course, I used to be in there with them all as a jockey, and remember every one of those days with the likes of Canford Cliffs. It was lovely to see.

Lady Aurelia was in a class of her own in the King’s Stand Stakes, while Highland Reel’s victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes was also great to see.

Coolmore are running a breeding operation, yet they keep these tough older horses like Highland Reel in training. It’s good for the game.

Food for thought?

Why do horses seem to be rated so much higher nowadays? It’s a question I’m often asking myself when looking at the marks needed to get into the big handicaps.

I know horses aren’t getting any faster, so why did you need to have a horse rated 92, for instance, to get into the Chester Cup last month whereas Top Cees won it off just 72 back in 1995. You needed a horse rated 97 to make the cut for the Hunt Cup this week.

Lots of money has been poured into heritage handicaps to make it more attractive for owners to keep horses rated in the 90-110 band in Britain rather than see them sold abroad.

That has produced ultra-competitive racing in the most valuable handicaps - which the bookies love - but I just wonder whether that may at some time have an effect on some of our Group races.

For example, there is a brilliant race at Ascot on Saturday with a wonderful history, the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes.

It has 14 runners this year, with the lowest-rated on 108 and the highest on 118. The way the ratings of horses are going what’s to say trainers may have the choice of a big-money 0-120 handicap or the Hardwicke in the future.

I know which race the bookies would prefer! Food for thought.

Hughesie’s Hottie

A couple of weeks ago I was sat in front of the television watching the racing. I saw a filly whizz in at Leopardstown and thought, “wow, she’s good”.

I turned to my wife Lizzie and said, “she will win the 1,000 Guineas next year”.

The filly was September, and she runs in the Chesham Stakes (2.30) on Saturday. Get on.