DOWN ROYAL, FRIDAY – WKD HURDLE
Samcro is obviously going to be the one to beat. He’s the highest-rated, and is a very very good horse. He’s going the Champion Hurdle route, and it’s a great place for him to start.
I think we’ll run Sharjah. He’s the highest-rated of ours and the one that’s probably most likely to take on Samcro. He’s on form and was a good winner of the Galway Hurdle. He has race-fitness on his side, albeit when he met Samcro before he was a good bit behind. Still, the advantage he’d have here would be that fitness.
He’s three pounds well in, but that’s Sharjah’s rating with a handicap hurdle penalty. As a novice, he was rated behind Samcro, but has since won the Galway Hurdle – Sharjah hasn’t yet one off his revised mark; Samcro has run to his current mark. We’ll see on Friday if the handicapper is right or not.
I don’t know if we need a guide on how good Samcro is. We saw enough of his rear-end last year to appreciate how good he is.
Bedrock might also get in the mix here. In the Galway Hurdle, he was off the pace. It was a long way back and he did well to run on and finish where he did. He was a much slicker, sharper horse in Tipperary, so of course he’s in the shakeup – he beat Wicklow Brave well, so he’s entitled to take his chance.
WETHERBY, SATURDAY – CHARLIE HALL CHASE
For me, this renewal really signals the start of the real National Hunt season. It looks like it could be a cracking race.
The allowance in the Charlie Hall is a huge thing, and it does tend to suit the horses getting it. Thistlecrack gets 6lbs here off the main contenders in light of his recent results, which is a huge pull over 3m at this level.
For that reason I’d hate to be opposing him in this race.
It’s been a couple of seasons since he was on top form, but horses have good years and ordinary years. I learned from Kauto Star and Hurricane Fly that you write off a class horse at your peril. You can’t write them off until they’re retired.
BREEDERS’ CUP TURF – SATURDAY 20:56
Enable has got a draw in Stall 2 in the Turf, which is a great draw providing you break.
If you break well you can slide forward into a beautiful position. But if you miss the break, two is a nightmare – you’re stuck down the paint behind a lot of horses with nowhere to go.
A lot will depend on how Enable hits the gate.
But she’s a class mare. I thought she was brilliant in the Arc, and could have improved since then. John Gosden stated she hadn’t had the ideal prep for that race, so she could be a better filly again.
If she hits the gate right, she’ll be hard to beat.
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC – SATURDAY 21:44
Roaring Lion will be some value if he can manage to win this. However, for a horse with no experience on the dirt, I don’t think he could have got a worse draw in Stall 1.
In dirt racing, the speed they go through the first three furlongs will be very difficult for him. He’s going to get a huge amount of kickback, and I think he faces a massive task.
As for Mendelssohn, Aidan O’Brien has geared the whole year around this race. For a frontrunner like him, Stall 9 is probably not a bad draw. If you’re a fraction slow in nine, you still have space in front of you to get forward; if you’re a fraction slow in one, they’ve already closed the door on you.
But I wonder: is he really good enough?
Aidan has gotten him loads of experience, and the style of racing – the relentless pace they go from the stalls – will be a help to him. He probably has an each-way chance, but that’s all I can see.