Jamie Spencer looking forward to some top Royal Ascot rides
Queen Anne Stakes
I ride Side Glance in the opener the Queen Anne Stakes. He’s run in the race before finishing third behind Frankel when he was rated 113, so he’s got good track form. If he could finish in the top three we’d be delighted. He’s been running to a mark of around 115 for the last year and a half so he’s a solid benchmark horse and if one or two of the others underperform he can grab a place.
Toronado has got a lot to prove. Number one, he’s coming off a 300 day lay-off. Number two, he has had well documented wind issues for which he’s had a handful of operations. The first time you have those ops it works good, the second time not so good, and the more operations you have they don’t work as well as they did first time. So that’s a bit of an issue. He’s got high class form winning the Sussex and was beaten a short head at this meeting last year but at the odds he’s pretty skinny. There are so many unknowns.
They say Soft Falling Rain might need the run but having dealt with Mike De Kock his horses are always really fit. So when he says a horse might need the run it’s probably like another trainer saying he’s fully fit! That’s no disrespect to any other trainers but Mike gets his horses so, so fit. He’s got a good chance and Verrazano’s another with a solid chance. Anodin has been supplemented and they haven’t done that for no reason either. It’s a tight race at the top but Toronado doesn’t deserve to be so short.
Adaay was a very expensive purchase from the Breeze-Ups. I was drawn beside him at Newbury and he was very edgy in the stalls but it was totally different horse that pitched up at Yarmouth. His first run had taken all his nervous energy out of him and on his second run I was very impressed by him. The race went very slow and we then quickened up well from the rest of them. I was really impressed by the way he had shut down since Newbury and become more relaxed, and he was very professional. I think he ticks all the boxes. You have to respect Ballydoyle. War Envoy got beat at Naas but Naas wasn’t where they were targeting they were targeting this race here. War Front, his sire, has a good record on the straight course here.
King’s Stand Stakes
I didn’t ride Hot Streak at Newmarket first time because Pearl Secret had had the benefit of a previous run and Hot Streak also had to carry a penalty that day and I just thought that was too much for him on his debut. Obviously he ran pretty well and he just got run down, and might have got a little bit tired. With that run under his belt he then went and won up at Haydock. I basically thought he was a steering job up there as long as everything went smoothly. If you watch the video, he either stumbled or took a bad step leaving the gates and wasn’t as quick away as you’d expect. But then he travelled strongly during the race and passed Justineo as if he was standing still and Justineo couldn’t live with him from halfway. He then idled a bit and Pearl Secret got to him but you could see nothing was going to get by him. There isn’t much between them on that run but I think Hot Streak was value for that half-length and if things had gone a bit smoother he’d have won by 2 lengths.
It’s a tough race and with Shea Shea, Sole Power, Pearl Secret and Ahtoug there’s just 2lbs between all of them on official ratings so one false step and it’s all over. We’re talking about 5 furlongs on a straight track and, whilst my horse deserves to be favourite, he hasn’t got very much in hand on the ratings so you need everything to go right. But the one thing he is, he’s a very relaxed horse and he’s very easy to ride so whatever the scenario in the race you can ride him accordingly. That doesn’t happen with a lot of sprinters where some need to lead and others need to be dropped in to relax and get them to breathe, but my fellow can adapt to any style.
St James Palace Stakes
I think Night of Thunder will come out on top against Kingman. He won at Newmarket and whilst some people say James Doyle made his move on Kingman earlier than he would have liked, at the end of the day Night of Thunder went from one side of the track to the other and still ran him down giving away ground in the process. The other aspect that favours him is that he’s out of a Galileo mare and sired by Dubawi so he’s bred to keep getting better as a racehorse whereas Invincible Spirit’s (Kingman’s sire) tend to be very good in the early part of their career and often don’t last very long. So Night of Thunder’s pedigree says he should have improved and he’s also had 45 days since his Guineas win whereas Kingman is running just 24 days since winning in Ireland on very heavy ground. So in terms of preparation it’s also in Night Of Thunder’s favour. It will be a tactical race and it will be interesting to see how they ride the two horses as Night of Thunder ran too keenly in the Greenham and set it up for Kingman.
Suraj has a chance. The biggest issue with him is leaving the stalls. He has a habit of missing the break and being really slowly into stride and though it’s a long race it really matters where you are drawn and how you break. Basically the position you start in is where you are going to be the whole race. If you try to make a mid-race move over such a long distance race you’ll pay for it at the finish. So in an ideal world if I can get a good start get a position in midfield so I can follow the right horses then he’s got a chance. Nicky (Henderson) is happy with him. He needed the run at York. He was the only horse in the race to make any kind of ground but he was so slowly away. If he does the same tomorrow then we’re in trouble. But if he gets out on terms then he’s got a chance. It’s a very open race and Nicky’s other horse Lieutenant Miller is probably the big danger. It’s a funny race and I’ve been placed a few times. It’s very rare you see a horse make up much ground. Last year Well Sharp did but he was extremely well handicapped. As a rule you need to get a good position to stand a chance of winning.
Windsor Castle Stakes
Mind of Madness has to have a strong chance. Normally you look at this type of race and see what Hannon runs but I rode Among Angels, the horse Hughesie rides, at Newbury and I think our horse is a better horse. Mind Of Madness won well at Newmarket and there was then a good six or seven weeks until his next race as we were minding him for Ascot. He ran well against Adaay and obviously he’s nearly favourite for the Coventry. We’ll see how he gets on and I’m hoping for a form boost. He ran well there at Yarmouth. It was a messy race but he’d improved physically and it was good to see that he’d got a good bit stronger. There’s 25 runners tomorrow so it’s a bit of lottery but the reason the best horses win these races is because with such a large field they’ll go a helter skelter pace. If we get the rub of the green he’s got to have a great chance of winning. He’s got a great turn of foot this horse so we’ll just wait until the two furlong pole and play it out from there. He doesn’t show a lot at home but when he gets to the track he lights up. He’s the perfect type of two year old for Ascot. He’s the type that can take in the big crowd and when they’re loading 25 horses into the stalls you need a horse that can relax and save its energy for the race. This horse has all those attributes.