Fran Berry: Golden opportunity
Top jockey Fran Berry looks ahead to a weekend which will take him from Wolverhampton to Chantilly and gives his verdict on the big races on British Champions Day.
Golden Stunner heads to Chantilly on Sunday
I would love to be at Ascot but it's the nature of the card that if you haven't got a horse of your own to ride then it's very hard to pick up spares and so I'm off to Wolverhampton for four rides.
The one I know most about – and my best chance – is Great Glen for Ralph Beckett.
He started the season well but has been off since disappointing in a high class handicap at Newmarket last time but you can put a line through that run. It was quite windy that day and he got wound up and was too free; he ran his race beforehand.
I rode him last week and he worked well. He shouldn't have any problem with the all-weather and 12 furlongs around Wolverhampton should suit so if we can keep him quiet in the preliminaries then I'd be hopeful of a much better showing.
On Sunday I'm heading back to Chantilly to ride Golden Stunner in a Listed race.
Apart from Sir Michael Stoute's Rostova, who she beat in June, I don't know too much about the opposition but my filly is in good form and should appreciate stepping up to nine furlongs in that company. She completed her hat-trick in a decent fillies' handicap at Newmarket and was only beaten four lengths in a Listed race at Haydock last time when she didn't get the gaps. She's been freshened up since and I'd be hopeful of picking up some black type.
We did pick up some black type with Pure Art at Newmarket last week and she ran so well she's given her owners a dilemma. The plan had been to retire her after that run but she ran a great race and her owners are now considering whether to keep her in training. She shaped as though she could improve for a longer trip next season and they could even race her in foal.
Things didn't work out for Amabilis in the nursery but she is better than the bare form and is another who may appreciate a longer trip in time. I followed the winner through but she changed her legs at the wrong time coming into the dip and got unbalanced. She did well to come through and finish fourth in the end.
It looks as though I will be going to Pontefract on Monday which means that I'll probably miss the ride on Desert Skyline who's got a few entries next week. It was nice to ride another winner for his trainer, David Elsworth, at Bath on Wednesday and this fellow could be another for him. He impressed me when winning at Yarmouth and, if he's improved as you'd expect, he could be on a nice mark.
Magic Circle should finally get his ground at Pontefract. He was forced to miss both Cesarewitchs last weekend because of the unseasonably fast conditions but it's softer up there and hopefully won't dry out too much.
We thought he'd be competitive in a Cesarewitch so you'd have to think that he'd be very competitive over two miles two around Pontefract.
Cirencester is also scheduled to go up for the Silver Tankard Stakes. She ran a nice race at Ascot and then won her maiden over course and distance. She's only rated 80 but she worked well for me last week so you'd hope that she can take another step forwards from that and this looks a good opportunity for her to try and pick up some black type. That said, she is still a big baby and a filly for next year.
Hopefully, by then, the yard will still be celebrating a win for Simple Verse!
I haven't ridden work with her but the team are happy and getting her head in front at this stage of the season as she did at Doncaster should have done her confidence a lot of good. The way she stayed on last time, she could improve a lot for the step up to two miles.
It's a fantastic card and the Sprint is as good a race as you'd want to see. You've got Mecca's Angel and Quiet Reflection taking on the likes of Shalaa and The Tin Man while Libriza Breeze was so impressive last time, even if it was just a handicap. It's a very open contest and I wouldn't like to call but but I've always been a fan of The Tin Man and he could be a bit of value at 11/1.
I think the value in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes lies with Awtaad at 10/1. The race has got so much strength in depth with Ribchester and Galileo Gold but he ran a great race on his comeback, there's a bit of juice in the ground and a mile on the straight track should be perfect. It's also in Minding's favour that the race is on the straight track as they should go a good gallop as it can get tactical on the round course.
That is about the only negative for Almanzor as he's drawn in one for the Champion Stakes but Christophe Soumillon knows the track well and has won the race before. He was electric at Leopardstown and showed a great turn of foot in beating Found who was so impressive in the Arc.
Fascinating Rock won the race last year but he hasn't had the smoothest of preparations and has missed a few engagements. The ground is quicker than it was last year too and it would be a fine training performance from Dermot Weld to get him back. It looks to be between Almanzor and Found and I think the former will have the edge over her at this trip.
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