The five day meeting at Glorious Goodwood came and went quickly but it proved a disappointing one for followers of the Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat. Neither Al Aasy or English King fired in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes on Thursday. The former didn't look comfortable on either the track or fast ground and, while his trainer William Haggas always believed the son of Sea The Stars wanted a quick surface, the form book doesn't back that up. I thought the latter ran flat in fourth and still appeared to be feeling the effects of his tough race in the Epsom Derby. It is easy to say with hindsight but Ed Walker would have been better off leaving the son of Camelot off until the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. Despite staying on at the death, he was laboured throughout and looked a shadow of the horse who danced to an easy success in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Frankie Dettori reportedly suggested the St Leger as a suitable target for English King afterwards but I am not convinced he is crying out for another couple of furlongs. He needs a lengthy break and prepared for his four year old career.
English King's stablemate Swindler ran a cracker to finish fourth in the Stewards' Cup on Saturday. Withdrawn from the Silver Wokingham at the Royal meeting last month, the four year old was having only his second start of the season and was reunited with Louis Steward who partnered him to victory at Ascot last September. Drawn high and racing with the stands' side group, he stayed on well and was only beaten a length and a half. Granted good or faster ground, he is tailormade for the Ayr Gold Cup but the underfoot conditions will determine his chance should connections head down that route. I am a big fan of David O'Meara and was therefore delighted to see him win the race with Summerghand. However, at the same time it was somewhat galling having tipped the six year old in the Wokingham Stakes when denied by a nose.
As discussed, I am currently working on the forthcoming edition of One Jump Ahead and have conducted interviews with Kim Bailey, Harry Fry, Philip Hobbs, Tom Lacey and David Pipe thus far. I will be carrying out more interviews this week. The plan is to publish OJA in mid September.
Following an absence of nearly four and a half months, it was great to be back on a racecourse on Saturday evening. Working for Racing TV at Hamilton Park, I was asked to fill in a form by the BHA a couple of days earlier and, on arrival at the track, had my temperature taken. With the exception of no crowd, there wasn't a great deal of difference to normal, although the jockeys used a marquee to get changed rather than inside the weighing room, as per normal. During the course of the evening I received a text from Rich Ricci, which is always a sign the jumping season proper isn't too far away. I will be speaking to the high profile owner re his string for the winter ahead in the next couple of weeks for One Jump Ahead. Exciting times ahead.
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