Fran Berry: Could it be Magic?
Fran Berry reflects on his successful return from injury and looks ahead to some exciting rides at Haydock on Saturday.
Magic Circle: Big chance in the Old Borough Cup
Things couldn't have gone much better on my first week back in the saddle.
I've taken it steady to begin with, having a ride a day for the first five days, and I got a real kick out of riding a winner with my first mount back, Mount Moriah, at Kempton.
It hasn't been mega busy since then, but my win aboard Crowning Glory for Ralph [Beckett] in the Isabella Beaton Handicap at Epsom on Monday was my first win at the track, so it was great to bag a landmark success at the home of the Derby.
Talking of landmarks, it would be nice to get a ride in the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday. It's looking like I've got some good rides on the under card, which I'll go through in a moment, and my agent, Tony Hind, is working hard to get me a ride in the big one.
It's too early to say what I may or may not be riding, but it looks a good-quality edition of a great race.
Limato would be the one to beat if he turns up, but with the ground on the easy side that looks unlikely and stablemate Twilight Son is on a bit of a retrieval mission after a disappointing run in the July Cup.
Quiet Reflection ran well in that race taking on her elders for the first time and she looked fantastic at the track earlier in the season, but the one I think they've all got to beat is The Tin Man.
He was very impressive the last day at Newbury and he hasn't got much to find on ratings. James Fanshawe does very well with this type of maturing sprinter and he did a grand job with this horse's half-brother, Deacon Blues.
One horse in the race I have ridden before is Gordon Lord Byron. I rode him in his relative youth when he was a four-year-old in Ireland and won a few times on him, but he seems to be better when you get him on a boat or a plane!
He loves Haydock and has been first and second in this race, so the track obviously brings out the best in him and he seems to be as good as ever at the age of eight.
If I don't have a ride in the Sprint Cup I could still have an enjoyable day at Haydock with Magic Circle one I'm really looking forward to in the Old Borough Cup.
He got no run at all when I rode him at Royal Ascot so you can completely ignore that and he bounced back in fine style when running away with a handicap at York last time.
He's very good and is improving, if the ground is on the easy side he has a good chance. He's not slow for a staying handicapper, he has a high cruising speed, so the drop back in trip to 1m6f from two miles ought not to be a problem.
Earlier on I'll be riding Pleaseletmewin in the Listed Ascendant Stakes for two-year-olds over a mile and he'll be the highest-rated horse in the race.
It was a brave call to step him up from nursery company to Group Two level in the Vintage Stakes last time, but he ran a cracker staying on into fourth.
He's won over six, he's won over seven and the way he finished his race last time suggests he'll get the mile no problem too. He's very relaxed, so it could even bring about more improvement.
I might well team up with some old allies in the Be Friendly Handicap as I could be on Robot Boy for David Barron and owners Mr Laurence O'kane & Paul Murphy.
I rode Hitchens and Waffle for the same connections, winning the Group Three Greenlands Stakes on the former at the Curragh, while I finished second twice in two Wokingham's on the latter.
Incredibly he only won once in 34 starts, amazing for a horse of his ability. He wasn't ungenuine, though, it was never really his fault – he bumped into the aforementioned Deacon Blues in one Wokingham and that rival really was a group horse in a handicap.
Anyway, I digress. I'll be in the same colours on Saturday on Robot Boy and on his best form he has a very good chance. He was disappointing last time but was beaten just a head three starts ago and he's run well at Haydock before.
I'm two from two for David Barron this season, so it would be nice to keep that percentage going and he's a trainer that's always been very good to me.
Before Saturday there's some decent midweek action at Salisbury on Thursday and I have a few interesting rides including Mystic Dawn for David Simcock in the feature Group Three Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes.
David's horses are in fine form and he's having a really good season. I'm delighted to get the ride on her. It's a big step up for her in a short space of time after only winning her maiden on her first start at Brighton last week, but she did that well and connections clearly feel she's up to it.
She has a nice draw, so fingers crossed.
I also ride Gold Faith for Ralphat Salisbury in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap and he's dropping in grade after being slightly below-par at Goodwood last time. Previous to that he looked really good at Newmarket and he's still unexposed.
Salisbury should suit and we're hopeful of a big run.
Finally, I've been an interested spectator from the weighing room of the battle going on between Silvestre De Sousa and Jim Crowley for the jockeys' championship in the last week.
I wouldn't like to call it at the moment. Just when you think Jim has the advantage Silvestre goes and rides a four-timer at Epsom so there's sure to be many ebbs and flows in that battle in the weeks ahead. Both would be deserving winners in my eyes.
Perhaps one day hopefully it's something I could be involved in. Even without the injury, this season has been about finding my feet over here and building up contacts and so on.
But it's just great to be back riding again. With Group One meetings like Leger week and Champions Day coming up it's a fantastic time of the year, with plenty to look forward to.
Hopefully I can kick into the autumn with a big Saturday winner this weekend.
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