The racing world was stunned – if not surprised – to learn on Tuesday evening that the brilliant and inspirational nine-time Irish champion flat jockey Pat Smullen had died at the age of 43 following a brave fight with pancreatic cancer.
Universally – and I do mean to a man/woman – liked, Smullen leaves a wife and three children. He rode the winner of 11 classics across Europe including the 2016 Derby aboard Harzand for Dermot Weld with whom he struck up such a wonderful partnership. RIP.
Today sees the final day of Yarmouth’s three-day September Festival and the opening 10f handicap sees two progressive three-year-olds Nasraawy and Crystal Pegasus (2.40) go head-to-head in what promises to be a most informative race.
Nasraawy had been gelded prior to his smooth Salisbury success last time out on ground that would not have suited this son of Kitten’s Joy on breeding. Jockey Kieran O’Neill reported post-race that the horse “shows us a bit of class” at home and an 8lbs rise may not prevent him following up.
Crystal Pegasus gets the vote, however, with the form of his neck second at Wolverhampton on his penultimate start having been franked by the winner – Godolphin’s Brilliant Light – now rated 83 – who scored at Sandown last month from a mark of 87. The selection – 9/4 with 10bet & Boylesports – has subsequently easily landed the odds at Bath and can run off the same mark this afternoon. He is taken to give 1lb to the John Gosden runner.
Bodyline (3.10) was a big disappointment at York when well supported for the valuable Melrose handicap last month when he failed to land a blow, having been a shade too keen on ground that may have been softer than ideal for this son of Australia. The selection – 15/8 from 7/2 with bet365 – is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time today by Sir Mark Prescott, and has bits of form from earlier in the summer that suggests he is potentially well treated although he has yet to fully prove that this 1m 6f trip is within his compass.
Al Saariyah (4.40) has finished runner up in her last two starts to date but the horses who have beaten her – Devilwala and Alcohol Free – have gone on to finish second in the Gp 2 Gimcrack and second in the Gp 3 Dick Poole Stakes respectively. The selection – 11/10 with William Hill – is 2lbs higher than when runner up last time but has been raised another 3lbs from the weekend. This looks an excellent opportunity with the stable of Simon & Ed Crisford in such good form.
It would be wrong to say the Warren Greatrex yard are in form but they did have one of their inmates run a good race at Uttoxeter last week and I hope to see Bailarico (2.50) bounce back to form at Pontefract in their 2m 2f handicap. The selection – 9/2 from 6s with bet365 – finished third on his sole start over today’s C&D from a 13lbs higher mark last April and this is his second start since having his wind operated on in the height of summer.
Had you told me three furlongs out at Chepstow on his penultimate start he would be beaten 13L I would have laughed in your face so well was he going, but he went out like a light. Eddy Greatrex takes over in the saddle and he has been in the plate for three of his four career wins on the level.
The three-day Ayr Western meeting is set to begin on ground described as good to soft at noon on Wednesday but with a dry forecast. Wondrous Words will be a warm order in the fillies 10f handicap to follow up her recent Redcar success for Roger Varian when having her first start at the trip. Leading apprentice Ray Dawson negates 5 of the 9lbs she was raised by the handicapper for that win and she is the one to beat.
Sarvi (3.30) won this corresponding race two years ago, however, and finished fifth having pulled too hard in this prize 12 months ago from an 8lbs higher mark. This looks to have been the plan again this year and she gets the ew vote – 11/1 with Boylesports two places – although she would not want the ground to dry out too much.
Cormier will be all the rage for the concluding 1m 5f handicap and the 4/1 with William Hill is tempting given he is 7lbs “well in“ despite carrying a penalty for his recent Catterick success. The eye is drawn to the booking of Ben Curtis for Four Kingdoms and he can go close at a very big price but I remember Dreams And Visions (5.35) doing us a favour in this corresponding race 12 months ago and he can follow up on his first start in 12 months.
Trainer Mick Easterby has booked Dawson for the ride and you could argue that, with his claim, he will be 2lbs lower in the weights than in 2019. The ew selection is 11/1.