Monday Musings: Tom and Hollie’s Top Class Show

Many famous men through history have had to accept second place in their relationships with their even more well-known better halves, writes Tony Stafford. Their own celebrity was undoubtedly the reason they first came to the attention of their future partners, none more so than Joe Di Maggio, America’s supreme baseball star of the 1950’s, who had to grow accustomed, once hitched, to being referred to as Mr Marilyn Monroe.

Joe clearly accepted that slight (as it was in those unenlightened days) on his manhood, for why else would he have continued to support the troubled platinum blonde film star through the various subsequent alliances and scandals that stretched all the way to a President of the United States? For Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, read John F Kennedy and Marilyn, illicit alliances half a century apart.

While entertainment and sport stars have occasionally got together, rarely has it been on such an equal basis as Mr and Mrs Hollie Doyle. Sorry, not quite yet, as although the wonderful Hollie and the equally admirable Tom Marquand are no married couple, they do live together in Hungerford. After Saturday’s exploits where the 20-some pair – Tom is the younger by two years – monopolised Champions Day at Ascot to the tune of four wins, so 67% of the six races, Tom hinted that marriage might be on the horizon.

Halfway through Saturday’s card, the various television outlets were in full Hollie mode. She won the first two races on Trueshan (by miles in the Stayers) and thrillingly by a nose on Glen Shiel (Sprint) before finishing a creditable second on Dame Malliot behind the highly-talented Wonderful Tonight, trained by David Menuisier in the fillies’ and mares’ race. Had the finishing order been reversed you could have imagined Frankie Dettori, already tailed off on Stradivarius in the opener and destined to share in Palace Pier’s first career defeat later on, wondering what was going on. Ascot’s supposed to be his private venue, but sorry Frankie, even Peter Pan had to grow old one day.

As it turned out, Glen Shiel was her final win, but after a brief break in the changing room while Palace Pier was struggling into third behind The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, she picked up lesser cheques, for sixth in the Champion Stakes on Extra Elusive for her new boss Imad Sagar, and another second on Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone in the Balmoral Handicap which closed the show.

I’m not sure whether the Marquand/Doyle team pools its earnings. By all accounts they usually sit down to relax after their respective long days, maybe playing a game of cards, watching telly or maybe even examining closely the relative quality of their performances.

At times one or other might be in the ascendant, as Hollie clearly was in the first half of Saturday when the total earnings of her two wins and three minor places added up to a whopping £495,000. Modesty precludes me from checking just what the precise share of that will go to the jockey, but somewhere around seven per cent might not be far wide of the mark.

Your first 30 days for just £1

So Hollie could rightfully say as they shuffled the cards: “Here’s my Group 2 and Group 1, can you match that?”. Well, fortunately, late-starting Tom could indeed counter. “Yes Hollie, here’s my 62 grand for the Balmoral Handicap on Njord, but my Group 1 and the 425k Addeybb won in the Champion Stakes easily matches your day’s work!”

In monetary terms it might just do so, but in the media perception – I still didn’t watch it on ITV, but Sky Sports Racing, who had to share their rightful coverage of Ascot with Racing TV and the national broadcaster - both revelled in Holliemania. It was indeed mostly a one-way street.

In the end, though, it proved to be almost a dead-heat on the earnings front, the final figure arriving at almost exactly £1 million (505 Tom and 495 Hollie); just like their riding styles: tidy, unobtrusive and in each case being in the right place at the right time in just about all their races.

I’ve mentioned Tony Nerses before and there’s no doubt that Imad Sagar’s Racing Manager played a big part in securing Hollie’s services earlier in the year. When the news came it was with a mixture of surprise at the appointment and dread that it might all go pear-shaped, but the tiny Hollie quickly grew into the role. The first Group races soon came, notably on Sagar’s Extra Elusive at Windsor in August, the highlight of her personal five-timer that day. Now she has that first Group 1 on her ever-expanding list of achievements and a record number of winners for a female rider: already pushing 120, that in a truncated year. Which of them will win the championship first? Possibly Hollie, but either will be a credit to the accolade.

There seems no limit to the list of potential employers – if you’re good enough for Sir Michael Stoute, you’re good enough for anyone. At the same time Marquand has seamlessly moved from the guy who happened to be available to partner Addeybb in those two winning Group 1 rides in Australia last winter to now being the go-to man for that well-travelled mudlark’s trainer, William Haggas.

I use the term mudlark advisedly, and there is little doubt that there is no point in turning up on Champions Day if you cannot cope with the soft ground that is almost inevitable in mid-October. That was always the main argument against staging such an important date so late in the year. In a normal mid-October once the European pattern gets through the various Classic schedules of the three major racing nations, there is little scope to go elsewhere. The Irish have their Champions weekend; France and the Arc meeting follows three weeks later, so this is where our big day has to be.

Not that the winners of Saturday’s races are anything but worthy, even if the names John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, for whatever reason, didn’t manage to collect any first prizes. I was surprised to hear that Gosden was citing the going for Stradivarius’ capitulation in the opening Stayers race. It was the fourth time he’d contested it and he’d won it only once previously. This time he’d gone through the extra exertion of a full preparation for the Arc with a mile and a half run in one of the trials. Gosden’s suggestion that because the Arc had been run at a pedestrian pace it was less demanding than usual seemed surprising.

The biggest surprise, though, in view of his less than outstanding record at this fixture – nowhere near the level of his three Gold Cups there or four Goodwood Cups in high summer – was that he started as short as 11-10.  Trueshan came to the race having won six of ten career starts, including a defeat of smart stayer Withhold in Listed class last time at Salisbury. Runner-up Search For A Star had won the last two renewals of the Irish St Leger for Dermot Weld and third home Fujaira Star had won a Royal Ascot handicap before impressing in a top-class Ebor at York and following home Search For A Star at the Curragh. It was a hot race.

I fully expected Andrew Gemmill to have been at Ascot on Saturday for Trueshan’s win, but he stayed home. Andrew was one of the four original owners – the Singula Partnership- of Trueshan but in May last year they leased the horse to the Barbary Lions 5, a bigger syndicate of 20 in which the quartet also participates. That lease ends at the end of the year according to Andrew and it will be interesting to see whether Alan King will allow this four-year-old gelding to run over hurdles which must have been the original plan. More than likely he’ll be happy to stay on the level and try to win next year’s Gold Cup.

Some spectacular results have been achieved by two of Saturday’s winners, cheaply bought at auction some way into their careers. The Darley-bred Glen Shiel had already raced 11 times in all, once at two, then as a three- and four-year old for Godolphin with Andre Fabre, winning three times. Turning up at the Doncaster May sales as a five-year-old, unraced so far that year, he was bought on behalf of Archie Watson for £45,000 and didn’t see a British racecourse until October. Five runs before the turn of the year didn’t produce a win, but the first of three pre-lockdown appearances did.

On January 8 at Newcastle off a mark of 96 and ridden by Hollie, he won readily. It was not until another five runs later, also at Newcastle in late June that he collected again and that was the start. The son of Pivotal has shown his and his trainer’s ability with a second to Dream Of Dreams in the Haydock Sprint Cup and then by reversing that form while also seeing off perennial Group 1 sprint contender Brando, much to his rider’s evident disbelief.

Marquand was also the beneficiary of an inspired purchase. The four-year-old Njord had started out with Sheila Lavery’s Irish stable, gaining his first win off 63 in May last year. He collected again on October 13 before going to Goff’s sales six days later when BBA Ireland paid 54,000 Euro on behalf of Jessica Harrington. By now on 82, he ran back at Gowran Park only nine days after the sale, winning comfortably. Another win, soon after racing’s resumption in June came off 88 at The Curragh. On Saturday Njord ran away with the highly-competitive Balmoral Handicap and must now be on at least 110, more than three stone higher than where he started.

I highlighted the chance of The Revenant last week in this column and was not at all surprised that he coped with conditions better than Palace Pier when going one better than last year in the QE II. He now has the remarkable figures of 10 wins, two seconds and a third in 13 career starts. In that race, Sir Busker’s alarming tendency to hang left when put under pressure didn’t stop him from finishing fourth, showing that if he had been drawn on the stands side in that most unfair of all Cambridgeshires, he might well have won it. Fourth in this coveted Group 1 and almost £35k will have been satisfactory compensation.

One other horse that we in the UK probably have hardly noticed – I hadn’t! - even after his achievement of splitting Addeyyb and Magical, who was unluckily denied a run at a crucial stage, is Skalleti. This five-year-old, trained in Marseille by the talented Jerome Reynier has a record on a par with The Revenant’s. Even after Saturday’s defeat he has 12 victories from 16 and this autumn has a Deauville Group 3 victory over subsequent Arc winner Sottsass and an easy Prix Dollar victory on Arc weekend on his record.

Preconceptions proved misguided in several cases on Saturday, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that some of the winners weren’t up to standard. They were.

- TS

Addeybb just Champion at Ascot for Haggas and Marquand

Addeybb overcame his wide draw to get his revenge on Magical in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Beaten into second place by Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant mare last year, Addeybb turned the tables with a dominant display.

Tom Marquand made his intentions clear by galvanising William Haggas’ six-year-old straight from the stalls to get a good position.

It worked, with Addeybb – a dual Group One winner in Australia in the spring – on the heels of the pace-setting Serpentine before being given the office by Marquand to go and win the race.

Addeybb (9-1) was quickly challenged in the straight by Skalleti (13-2), but managed to shrug off the French raider and win by two and a quarter lengths.

Magical (15-8 favourite) was another half a length back in third, without looking like getting to the winner.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Marquand said: “Honestly what a credit to Safid (Alam, groom), William and Maureen (Haggas) and the whole team at home. He’s gone to Australia, he conquered Down Under and now he’s come back and he deserved that Group One here so much.”

Marquand is the partner of Hollie Doyle, and added of her achievements on the day she rode a Champions Day double, including her first ever Group One: “I’m so, so proud of her. All she does is get up every day and graft and to ride her first Group One for Archie Watson is brilliant, because he’s played such a big part, but also for Alan King because he’s played a big part for both of us in the last few years.

“Our first Royal Ascot winners were for him and he’s had a cracking year. There’s no one, genuinely no one, who deserves it more.”

Haggas said of his one-time Lincoln Handicap winner: “He is a special horse for us and has done lots of things we can only dream of. The Australia thing was so fantastic because he had never actually won a Group One.

“I think the first time we put cheekpieces on him in the Wolferton last year he put up a pretty smart performance to beat Elarqam and Magic Wand in a Listed race. Ever since then he has been either first or second in top company. He likes the ground and goes well fresh.

Celebration time for Tom Marquand
Celebration time for Tom Marquand (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“It seems a bit ridiculous to take him to Ayr to run in a Listed race (in preparation for Ascot), but actually it was a nice thing for him as we could give him a month between there and here. He looked imperious in the Lincoln that day (2018) over a mile, but he loves it fresh so we try keep him fresh. He was fresh going into Australia.

“We always hoped he had it in him. Personally I couldn’t see Magical being beaten, as I thought she beat us comprehensively last year, although not by very far. I was frightened the ground had dried too much today, but it was pretty horrible and he loves it when it is horrible.

“He is at his best when there is an inspection in the morning and it passes and as Tom said it feels like good ground on him. Tom said in the first one he won in Australia it was English good ground and no softer than that. He is pretty versatile, but he is deadly on this ground.

“We (Haggas and wife Maureen) watched him together and he never looked like being beaten. I know that sounds awfully arrogant, but if you watched him the whole way round he was in the perfect position and he was able to get a breath coming into the straight and when he said ‘go’, he went.”

I’ve no doubt he will be champion one day

He added of Marquand: “Tom is a young guy that has his girlfriend kicking him up the backside every day, but he is a very personable, strong rider that has done very well. He has got a hell of a future. I’ve no doubt he will be champion one day.

“All these jockeys and trainers want to be competing on these days and races like this. He has got there very early on in his career and good luck to him and he will do really well. I hope it is with us, but if it is not, it’s not.

“He will do really well in the future as he is a top-class guy and rider.”

Magical and Addeybb face Champion Stakes rematch

Magical and Addeybb, the first two home in last year’s Qipco Champion Stakes, will face off again at Ascot on Saturday with 11 runners declared for this season’s renewal.

Aidan O’Brien’s durable mare Magical is a seven-times Group One winner, adding the Pretty Polly Stakes, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Irish Champion Stakes to her tally this term after connections rethought retirement plans initially announced at the end of last year.

O’Brien also runs impressive Derby winner Serpentine and Japan, who were both denied a run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to an issue with contaminated feed.

The Ballydoyle handler thinks Magical could roll on to next month’s Breeders’ Cup meeting, should all go well on Saturday.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“The lads will see what they want to do, but it’s a very strong possible that she could go to Keeneland if everything goes well,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.

“That’s the plan, absolutely (Ryan Moore rides Magical).

“The plan is that Colin (Keane) will ride Japan and William (Buick) will ride Serpentine, that’s what we’re thinking at the moment.

“We were very happy going into the Arc with Japan. We’ve had to carry on another two weeks, but everything has gone very well.

“We were over the moon with Serpentine in the Grand Prix de Paris, it was only a trial.

“He’s coming back to a mile and a quarter, but we’re looking forward to seeing him run.”

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb went down by three-quarters of a length 12 months ago, but has since elevated himself into a true Group One performer with two wins at the highest level in Australia.

His only defeat in 12 months came at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes when second to Lord North and he will face John Gosden’s four-year-old again.

Lord North progressed rapidly through the handicap ranks from winning last year’s Cambridgeshire to victory at the highest level, but has not run since finishing third in the Juddmonte International.

Gosden has another very strong string to his bow in the shape of French Derby winner Mishriff, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, while there is an interesting French challenger in the shape of Skalleti, a mud-lover who beat subsequent Arc winner Sottsass in August.

Hollie Doyle rides Extra Elusive, Pyledriver drops back half a mile in distance having run well in the St Leger while Desert Encounter and San Donato also run.

Marquand and Addeybb primed for Champion Stakes glory

Tom Marquand has already enjoyed plenty of memorable moments in the saddle this year and Addeybb will bid to give him another on Saturday in the Qipco Champion Stakes.

For some 2020 cannot end soon enough – but for Marquand, who this season has landed a first Classic victory aboard Galileo Chrome in the St Leger and a breakthrough Royal Ascot success, it could be about to become even better.

Having steered the William Haggas-trained Pivotal gelding to a brace of Group One victories in Australia earlier this year, the 22-year-old will attempt to guide the six-year-old to further top-level glory in the mile-and-a-quarter prize at Ascot.

Though Addeybb, who finished second in the race 12 months ago, is yet to score in his four previous outings in Group One company in Britain, Marquand believes he has every chance of changing that statistic at the weekend.

Addeybb (yellow colours) chased Magical home 12 months ago
Addeybb (yellow colours) chased Magical home 12 months ago (Simon Cooper/PA)

Marquand said: “He is a dual Group One winner, but British racing probably thinks he is a horse that can’t win a Group One over here which is a shame.

“He bumped into Magical at Ascot in the race last year and if you can run three-quarters (of a length) second to something like that, you are a solid Group One horse.

“Hopefully this is his go at giving it a proper shot. What will be will be, but hopefully he can put his best foot forward and run his heart out.

“It is going to be an ultra-competitive race, as it should be, but what a great ride to have in the race.”

Your first 30 days for just £1

While Addeybb appeared to make hard work of landing a Listed contest at Ayr last time out, Marquand is far from concerned about the performance.

He said: “He was giving weight away to horses like Lord Glitters, and he is no mug – he has won a Group One. It’s a hard thing.

“I was speaking to Harry Eustace, who looked after him in Australia, on the morning of the race and I said I would probably still have to give him a couple of flicks and that he wouldn’t go through with it on the bridle and win, because that is just not him.

“Lo and behold he came off the bridle at the three pole and looked in trouble, but I gave him a couple of flicks and he just stuck his head down and went through with it.”

Tom Marquand is confident William Haggas will have Addeybb in perfect order for his latest Group One assignment (Nigel French/PA)
Tom Marquand is confident William Haggas will have Addeybb in perfect order for his latest Group One assignment (Nigel French/PA)

With that outing expected to have put Addeybb spot on for his Group One return, and conditions in his favour, Marquand has every right to be hopeful.

He said: “You would like to think he is spot on and William has had a few years of practice with him in getting him ready for certain days and he has pretty much nailed that.

“Hopefully we get a sensible draw and the ground we want, then after that it is on him. I think he is a horse that deserves to win a Group One in Britain.”

Starman will be pitched into Group One company for the first time at Ascot on Saturday (Mark Cranham/PA)
Starman will be pitched into Group One company for the first time at Ascot on Saturday (Mark Cranham/PA)

Marquand will look to strengthen his partnership with Ed Walker-trained Starman when he puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

He said: “He has had a flawless career so far, he is three from three and very exciting.

“I think he has surprised a lot of people. He only just scraped home at Lingfield, but I got off him and I was convinced he was nice and only going through the motions.

“He wouldn’t want the ground too soft, but he will go there regardless. He is on an upward curve and it is certainly worth a try to see if he can continue it.”

With Starman having successfully taken the step up to Listed company in his stride last time out at York, Marquand believes it was an effort that can be upgraded given things conspired against him

He added: “His last run was particularly impressive. He put it to them in a very competitive Listed race at York, beating Dakota Gold who is a fair yardstick.

“Everything went wrong for us there, but he still managed to come out on top being relatively inexperienced.

“Hopefully he is the sort of horse that can step up and be on the sprinting scene for the next couple of years.”

Victory for Starman would be particularly sweet for Marquand, with it coming less than four months after losing the ride aboard his stablemate English King in the Derby.

He said: “It is nice for Ed, as he had all the excitement with English King earlier in the year and that never really materialised and it is great he has such another exciting horse come along so quickly to back up in the same year.

“It was never an issue losing the ride on English King, I get on great with Ed and we’ve had plenty of winners in between and hopefully I will have a few more.”

Addeybb on course for Champion Stakes

William Haggas is looking forward to another attempt at the Qipco Champion Stakes with last year’s runner-up Addeybb.

The six-year-old landed two Grade Ones in Australia in the spring and, on his return, finished second to Lord North in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

After a 94-day break, Haggas sent him to Ayr for a Listed race in which he gave 7lb and a three-quarter length beating to a previous Queen Anne winner in Lord Glitters.

“I was really happy, because I thought it was quite a tough race,” said Haggas.

“Usually if you run a Group One horse in a Listed race you frighten everything away – but maybe because there’d been no decent ground, it persuaded people to run.

“They didn’t go very fast, and he looked in trouble – to my eye anyway – two out, but he picked up real good.

“That will have done him a lot of good, and he’ll go off to Ascot with a chance. It will be tough – but it’s the Champion Stakes, (so) it should be. He’s entitled to go, and he’ll be a sporting bet.”

Haggas believes the application of cheek-pieces has helped to bring out the very best in Addeybb.

He added: “His record since we put cheek-pieces on – which aren’t because he’s ungenuine, but they just help him – is outstanding (never out of first two in eight runs).

“He’s not a flash horse, which is why he might be (a bigger price). He is what he is – that is what everyone thinks, they all look for the younger ones, the Mishriffs of this world.

“Mishriff is a very good horse, but he’ll need to be on his A game.

“Then there’s Magical (last year’s winner), but I’m hoping she might run in the Arc first. Given they’ve [owners Coolmore] got Love and Mogul, though, she might not, I suppose.”

Addeybb delivers in Doonside Cup

Dual Group One winner Addeybb set himself up for a second tilt at next month’s Qipco Champion Stakes with a battling victory in the Jordan Electrics Doonside Cup at Ayr.

The William Haggas-trained six-year-old found only the brilliant mare Magical too strong on Champions Day at Ascot last October – and an Australian adventure earlier this year yielded back-to-back wins at the highest level.

Having filled the runner-up spot behind Lord North on his latest appearance in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot three months ago, Addeybb was the 11-10 favourite for his Listed assignment in Scotland – despite conceding 7lb to each of his six rivals.

Supporters of the market leader will have been sweating early in the home straight, with last weeks’s St Leger-winning jockey Tom Marquand hard at work aboard Addeybb while several of his rivals travelled smoothly.

However, the Pivotal gelding dug deep to grab the lead to grab the lead inside the final furlong and galloped all the way to the line to repel the late thrust of the grey Lord Glitters by three-quarters of a length.

Speaking from his home in Newmarket, Haggas said: “I’m chuffed to bits with him.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“He came good at the end of the race. He’s such a genuine, kind horse. He’d prefer softer ground, but he dug in and I’m thrilled.

“I thought it was a pretty smart performance as the penalty he had to carry was big.

“Hopefully he comes out of it well and we’ll head to the Champion Stakes.”

The Kevin Ryan-trained Magical Spirit was an emphatic winner of the QTS Ayr Silver Cup.

A winner at Beverley in early June, the four-year-old had since struggled to make a major impact in successive starts at Newcastle and most recently at Haydock a fortnight ago.

However, the 18-1 shot looked a class act in this fiercely-competitive handicap – bounding clear on the far side of the track under Kevin Stott for a three-and-a-half-length success over Admirality.

Hot favourite King’s Lynn led for much of the six-furlong contest before weakening out of contention.

Cosmo Charlton, racing manager for owners Hambleton Racing, said: “We’re delighted with that.

“He’s a horse Kevin has always had a lot of faith in and he’s kept on improving.

“He had a bit of a wind issue, which was resolved, and we came into today full of confidence he would run well, although I can’t say I expected him to win like he has!

“I would say Kevin will be looking at Stakes race for him after that.”

Umm Kulthum finished with a flourish to secure top honours in the Scotty Brand Firth of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes.

A narrow winner on her racecourse debut at Thirsk, Richard Fahey’s youngster then finished a fine third behind Irish challenger Miss Amulet and the high-class Sacred in last month’s Lowther Stakes at York.

On the strength of that form, the daughter of Kodiac was the 9-4 favourite for this Group Three test in the hands of Paul Hanagan – and eventually cut down Scarlet Bear to prevail by a length.

Following the victory of Nahaarr in the Ayr Gold Cup, Haggas and Marquand completed a treble on the card with 9-2 chance Johan in the Luxury Staycations At Western House Hotel Handicap.

Tom Marquand eager for Addeybb reunion at Ayr

Tom Marquand is excited to renew his association with his old friend Addeybb in the Jordan Electrics Doonside Cup at Ayr on Saturday.

Marquand owes a great debt to William Haggas’ gelding as he gave the young rider the first Group One triumphs of his career earlier in the year in Australia.

Haggas is preparing Addeybb for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot next month and this Listed contest fits in nicely with those plans.

It will be the first time Marquand has sat on the gelding since they finished second behind Lord North in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“Obviously I’m looking forward to getting back on board him,” said the 22-year-old.

“I’ve not sat on him since Royal Ascot. William said I had enough fun on him that day and someone else deserves a go at home!

“He’s a cracking animal. Hopefully the ground doesn’t dry out too much. He certainly looks in good order at home.

“It’s probably a different path to Champions Day, but it’s perfect for him. He should have his conditions. A mile and a quarter on a galloping track, that’s what he wants.

“It was a well-spotted race by William, perfect timing. Hopefully it will set him up nicely for the big day.

“He’s got the penalty, but he’s a dual Group One winner and hopefully he can overcome that.”

Your first 30 days for just £1

Euchen Glen has won four of his five starts at Ayr and finished second in the other.

The seven-year-old completed his recovery from a serious injury that had kept him off the track for nearly two years with victory on his sixth run back at Haydock earlier this month.

Trainer Jim Goldie targeted this race straight afterwards, but did not expect Addeybb to be in the line-up.

“He’s in great order and we know he likes the track, albeit his wins have come off a lower rating,” said the Glasgow handler.

“I was hoping Mr Haggas might go elsewhere with Addeybb, but at least we’ll know where we going afterwards. If we beat him we might have to supplement for the Arc or something!

“Our horse is adaptable trip-wise and ran a good race at Group One level behind Stradivarius at Goodwood earlier in the year.

“Hopefully he’ll run well.”

Lord Glitters, winner of the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes for David O’Meara, drops down in class, while San Donato and Fox Chairman are others that bring strong form to this Listed contest.

Richard Fahey is expecting a big performance from Umm Kulthum in the Scotty Brand Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes.

The daughter of Kodiac showed she was capable of winning a race of this stature when third to Miss Amulet in the Group Two Lowther Stakes on only her second start at York last month.

“She won first time at Thirsk and backed that up with a solid race in the Lowther,” said the Musley Bank handler.

“She’s improved so I hope she’ll run a big race.”

Karl Burke’s She’s So Nice and the Tom Dascombe-trained Scarlet Bear, who were fourth and fifth in the Lowther, are among the opposition again.

Adrian Nicholls felt Mamba Wamba might have taken the Roses Stakes at York had she not been hampered at a crucial stage of the Listed contest.

Instead she had to settle for fourth place, just half a length behind the winner, Acklam Express. She has, however, gone on to open her account back at the same course two weeks ago.

“She’s going into the race in great form. She ran well in a Listed race at York and broke her maiden well,” said Nicholls.

“It looks the right option to go for. It looks quite a strong renewal. If she could get some black type, it would be great.

“She’s run very well all season. At York she went close, but I think she would nearly have won if she hadn’t got bumped. She could have been going into this a Listed winner, but I wouldn’t swap her. If I was riding, I wouldn’t swap her either.”

Dual Kempton scorer Perfect Times has a bit to find on ratings, but connections of the Mark Johnston-trained Gleneagles filly believe she could run into a place.

Charlie Johnston, son and assistant to his father, said: “She has been quite impressive in both her Kempton wins and I think she has won with a bit in hand on both occasions.

“The handicapper has given her a mark of 84 and in normal circumstances we would be running a horse like this in a nursery and working our way up, but getting some black type would be valuable to her owner/breeder.

“I don’t think you have to read too much into the fact she has won twice on the all-weather – it is just where the races were as opposed to a preference for that surface.

“Franny (Norton) felt after her last run she could get seven, but we decided to stick to six for the time being.”

Monday Musings: The Month Long Day

Four weeks in and I don’t know about you, but it’s almost impossible to tell the days apart, writes Tony Stafford. I know I’m writing this on what they tell me is Easter Sunday; but with little varying day to day – even the weather, with the sun blazing incessantly and perma-warm temperatures – what we have had is a totally homogenised month.

The initial shopping frenzy has cooled. I act as driver for our once-a-week taxi journey a few miles to the usual supermarket where I stay secure in the car with the windows firmly closed while Mrs S does the six-foot-apart car park snake towards the entrance. Inside, she assures me, she scrupulously adheres to the one-way arrows on the floor and reckons she’s almost the only shopper who does. Food is available now and thousands have died as we proceed in our frozen state.

The Racing Post, predictably and understandably, has been forced to reduce the size of its daily computer newspaper usually to eight pages, so I’ve no idea if the birthdays remain available. For my part I just have a quick squint before looking elsewhere.

I mention birthdays because Easter Sunday would have been the 100th birthday of my father had he not died 18 years ago. For years I regretted he had never seen the development of the Olympic Park, part of his home turf for all his life, apart from the six years he had to give up to join in the Second World War, which he spent mostly in Egypt. Not only did he not see the Olympics, he never knew they were coming. My mum was still alive and I can still picture sitting with her as the announcement that the Games had been won and would be staged in London in 2012 was broadcast to the nation.

Dad took me racing, to Arsenal and to the Oval as a kid, three pastimes that have never wavered in my interest. His principal goal in life seemed to be to ensure that I joined Eton Manor boys sports club as soon as I could, which meant on my 14th birthday.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Sixty years on, we took our permitted walk on Saturday with a puffing Yorkshire terrier, close to the River Lea, on the same land where I’d played so much of my cricket as a kid. I had even contrived to play in a match there rather than watch the World Cup Final in 1966, three years after – between innings – watching the famous Irish Derby when Relko, the runaway Derby winner, had to be withdrawn lame a few minutes before the start. That left the nine-length Epsom third Ragusa to step up.

Working for the racing press led me to so many places and a great deal of the more unlikely connections came from making summer trips to Kentucky when Keeneland still had the July Selected Yearling sale. In the late 1980’s I’d bumped into the former teen idol David Cassidy there, so when on Friday I noticed that an hour and a half documentary was to air promising the last recordings of the life that ended aged 67 three years ago, it was required viewing.

The all-encompassing years when his role in the antiseptic TV show The Partridge Family, which led to his becoming the most-worshipped pop star of the early 1970’s, were already way behind him. He got into racing and breeding and a couple of times we happened to be in the same company at dinner in the famed Dudley’s restaurant in downtown Lexington.

Then at Epsom on Derby Day 1987, I noticed someone in morning dress looking over at me. It was David, and he said he recognised me from Kentucky and asked where could he get a good view of the big race? It was the days of the old Epsom grandstand – two structures ago! -and I said I could sneak him up to the top of the Press stand.

As an American, he got a great thrill seeing his compatriot and friend Steve Cauthen coming home clear on Henry Cecil’s all-the-way winner Reference Point. Cassidy was in London that summer having taken over the leading role originally played in the West End by Cliff Richard in the musical, Time. He invited the family to see the show and asked the five of us backstage to his dressing room afterwards. He seemed a very nice chap and it was salutary to discover from the documentary the problems he had with his own father, the film star and famous tenor, Jack Cassidy.

Even more devastating was the evidence of his dementia, which as he honestly and perhaps possibly for the first time in his life, stated in interviews was caused by alcoholism.

Mortality is being brought home to us every day right now. One person whose recovery from coronavirus was revealed recently was Sir Kenny Dalglish, who shares a birthday with me. It’s so random who will be struck down next, you just have to keep out of harm’s way as much as you can.

Racing is going on in a few selected areas around the world under strictly-controlled circumstances, and two people who have been delighted that Australia has kept going are William Haggas and Tom Marquand. On Saturday at Randwick, taking advantage of the retirement of Winx, winner of the previous three runnings, they stepped up to win the Queen Elizabeth Cup with Addeybb by almost three lengths from Verry Elleegant. The near £700,000 first prize will no doubt have been causing envious glances from their training and riding counterparts around the UK.

Addeybb was following up his victory in another Group 1 10-furong race at Rosehill last month when he beat Verry Elleegant by only half a length. Forty minutes before the Queen Elizabeth Cup, the pair teamed up with recent Australian Group 3 winner Young Rascal, the 19-10 favourite for the two-mile Sydney Cup. Young Rascal disappointed, finishing unplaced and well behind former stable-companion Raheen House, who was a close third a week after winning a 50k prep race over the same track.

I see from the now long list of owners that Lew Day, who originally bought the six-year-old as a yearling on the advice of Sam Sangster and his first trainer Brian Meehan, still has his name as part of the syndicate. I’m delighted that he will have picked up a few pounds, or rather Aussie dollars, from his now far-away involvement.

On the same card, another well-known name, Con Te Partira, a winner at Royal Ascot for the Wesley Ward stable in 2017, collected a big prize for mares, the Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes. The daughter of Scat Daddy was winning her third race for the Gai Waterhouse stable and will be worth a fortune when she eventually goes to stud. What price Royal Ascot, even behind closed doors, this year?

 - TS