It is a big weekend for Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle, who is back on her Champions’ Day hero Glen Shiel in the Group One Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday.
Glen looks great but ground a concern
GLEN SHIEL, without question one of my favourite horses, looks a picture ahead of his latest Group One assignment, the Betfair Sprint Cup (3.30) at Haydock Park on Saturday.
His trainer Archie Watson gave him a couple of weeks’ rest after his below-par performance in France last month and it seems to have done him the power of good.
He was on the easy list at Archie’s Saxon Gate Stables in Lambourn before being prepared for a race he finished such a gallant second in 12 months ago, beaten only by Dream Of Dreams – the horse we were second to again in this year’s Diamond Jubilee.
In theory, last month’s Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville looked tailor-made for Glen. Six-and-a-half furlongs on his favoured soft ground seemed ideal, but for some reason he just didn’t finish off his race.
I’m convinced the exertions of the July Cup a few weeks earlier took more out of him than we realised, but Archie’s freshened him up well so we’re prepared to put that behind us. After all, every horse is entitled to an off day.
Haydock clearly plays to his strengths but the ground doesn’t appear to be in our favour this time. It’s officially good to firm going into the weekend with no prospect of significant rain.
I’d also prefer to be drawn higher. I’m in stall four, on the opposite side to the big race favourite Starman – the mount of my fiancé Tom Marquand. Fast ground is what Ed Walker’s colt thrives on and everything appears to be in his favour.
Whatever happens at Haydock, Glen will be heading back to Ascot next month to defend his Champions Sprint crown. Hopefully the ground will be more to his liking there.
Noble looks a player in big handicap
An improving stayer with a light weight can often be a winning formula in big handicaps at this stage of the season so I’m hopeful of a big run from NOBLE MASQUERADE in the Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup (2.55) at Haydock.
Eve Johnson Houghton’s four-year-old carries just 8st 2lb in the £80,000 added feature and couldn’t come into the race in better form, bolting up over the extended 11 furlongs on fast ground at Windsor last month for William Buick.
The big galloping test will be ideal for him and he stays all day, so stepping up to one-mile-and-six-furlongs can only be in his favour.
I always enjoy riding for Henry Ponsonby and his owners, who gave me that magical day on Scarlet Dragon last year when I rode my first ever Royal Ascot winner. Hopefully I can be lucky in those familiar white and red colours once again.
Cox sprinter open to progress
In a typically competitive renewal of the Betfair Be Friendly Handicap (4.05) at Haydock, I’m booked for what should be a good ride on Clive Cox’s GET IT.
This lightly raced three-year-old has been placed over course and distance on fast ground since winning a novice at Wolverhampton in May.
He clearly needs to step up on his Sandown effort, though he was drawn away from where the race unfolded, but he ran well here despite a slow start and was in the mix on his next run at Doncaster, too.
It’s still early days for him and he’s with an excellent trainer so there’s every chance he can make an impact against his elders off a reduced mark over this fast five furlongs.
News out to make headlines
I love riding for Linda Stubbs and her daughter Kristin and have enjoyed some good days for them this year with the likes of Iva Reflection, Oakenshield and Carey Street.
I’m on their Carlisle winner OLD NEWS in the Better Odds On Betfair Exchange Handicap (5.15) over the Haydock mile. He’s a fairly reliable gelding who has done well for the yard since arriving from Richard Hughes in the winter.
Linda and Kristin, who are based at Norton near Malton in North Yorkshire, work tirelessly and place their horses well and this four-year-old has the benefit of his optimum conditions.