Alex Hammond Blog

There’s a lot to look forward to in both codes this week and Alex Hammond also reflects on Arc weekend where it just wasn’t to be for Enable fans.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be for Enable as she got stuck in the ParisLongchamp mud and as a result, couldn’t show us the brilliance we have enjoyed over the past few years.

Will they roll the dice one more time? Personally, I doubt it as the best option for her now is to head to the Breeders’ Cup for the Turf, a race she won two years ago. She’s six years old and with the Arc record now out of her grasp she doesn’t have anything else to prove or achieve.

There’s no guarantee that she would win in America and another defeat would leave us a little flat. Not that what we think really matters, but I’m sure like me, you just want her to retire healthy and hopefully pass on her genetics to the next generation.

So, thank you for everything Enable and we wait with anticipation to see what stallion she is going to get acquainted with in the early part of next spring.

There were several really smart performances on Arc weekend despite the best efforts of Storm Alex and I hope I’ve spotted a couple of horses we should be watching in the next few weeks.

With Champions Day at Ascot in mind, I backed Prix Dollar winner Skalleti for the Champion Stakes (for which he’s now 10/1 with Sky Bet) pretty much before he’d pulled up.

He overcame trouble in running in the Dollar as one of the early leaders started to drop back through the field and did remarkably well to overcome that. I think jockey Maxime Guyon would admit he didn’t guide him through the smoothest passage, but the horse showed resilience to get up despite that. Winning trainer Jerome Reynier is contemplating a trip to Ascot now if coronavirus restrictions permit and he can find somewhere suitable to board the horse for a couple of days.

Let’s hope so, I’d love to see him at Ascot pitched in against a world-class field including the likes of Mishriff.

It was a marvellous weekend for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard who saddled The Revenant to win the Prix Daniel Wildenstein, In Swoop to finish second in the Arc (hope you took my advice and backed him each-way) and Wooded to win the Abbaye.

All three are horses I’ll be following closely this season and next. I can’t back The Revenant for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes because I’m such a fan of Palace Pier and have already backed him, but if John Gosden’s top-class miler is too short then go for your life.

The Revenant was runner up to King Of Change in the Group 1 last season.

A horse I think ran a superb trial for the Ascot contest in two weeks is John Quinn’s Safe Voyage, who finished third behind the remarkable mare One Master and Earthlight in the Prix de la Foret.

He ran as if the step back up to a mile at Ascot won’t inconvenience him and he’ll handle the likely prevailing conditions. Despite being seven years old, he seems as good as ever.

Palace Pier is the 10/11 favourite, The Revenant is a 15/2 shot and Safe Voyage now 10/1 to go two better than his third place in 2019.

Tarnawa won a top-class renewal of the Prix de l’Opera for Dermot Weld and the sky is the limit for this girl.

Weld had the option of the Arc this year, but they stuck to 10 furlongs to win this Group 1 instead. The way she ran through the line suggests that the big one could be on her agenda in 2021 if she stays in training.

However, as a dual Group 1 winner that may now be in doubt. Before that, though, she could come to Ascot for the Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes for which she is 9/2 second favourite behind Magical.

Don’t dismiss her claims in the mile and a half Group 1 on the back of her defeat in that race 12 months ago, she’s a much stronger, more mature filly as a four-year-old. I really hope she rocks up at Ascot but the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is another potential next port of call with a crack at the boys in the Turf a very interesting idea raised by connections.

More imminently there is future champions day at Newmarket on Saturday where I’m fully behind Chindit in the Dewhurst.

I adore this two year-old and have been waving that flag for some time (15/8 with Sky Bet). He has such a wonderful attitude and was walking round like an old sheep in the paddock before the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

Not much seems to faze him and he’s another great advert for a stallion Coolmore have just snapped up, Wootton Bassett. Richard Hannon has reported a sensational piece of work by the colt in the last few days and I hope we see another special performance here.

I’m off to Chepstow for Sky Sports Racing to cover the jumping action on Friday and Saturday and can’t wait to get stuck into the national hunt season.

On Friday the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle is usually a race that gives us plenty of clues for the rest of the season with previous winners that include future stars Bonanza Boy, Monsignor, Silviniaco Conti, Blaklion and last year Thyme Hill.

So who has a chance of joining that illustrious role of honour in 2020?

You may remember that there were some glum faces after McFabulous was beaten in a maiden hurdle at this track last November. He was beaten by a smart horse of Fergal O’Brien’s called Silver Hallmark, but he was also beaten by a shoddy round of jumping.

Plenty of work was subsequently done by the team at Paul Nicholls’ yard and that was rewarded with a Grade 3 novices’ handicap hurdle win at Kempton back in March. He’s the proven class hurdler in the field and is likely to go off a short priced favourite.

Philip Hobbs has an interesting hurdling debutante amongst the entries. Everglow has had two runs in bumpers, including at this track and his second run behind Israel Champ and Time Flies By looks strong.

It’s interesting his trainer is considering running in a Grade 2 on his hurdling debut, so expectation that he’s a potentially useful hurdler must be high.

On Saturday the feature is the Grade 3 Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle and the race has attracted a large entry which includes last year’s winner Flash The Steel. Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old is 8lbs higher this time round.

There are some intriguing horses amongst them including Olly Murphy’s Notre Pari who was sent off favourite for the Lanzarote Hurdle but fell at the last. The David Pipe-trained Main Fact who has been a revelation since joining that yard just over two years ago and has won his last five starts.

Triumph Hurdle fifth Sir Psycho is also amongst those in at the time of writing.

There are some quality horses entered across both days and I’m looking forward to seeing some decent horses in the Listed novices’ chase on Saturday including hopefully Fiddlerontheroof.

His trainer Colin Tizzard usually targets this race with a smart novice having won it with Cue Card in 2011 and Finian’s Oscar in 2017. This lad is already a Grade 1 winner over hurdles in the Tolworth last season and he’s sure to make into a fine chaser.

So whatever your bag, there’s plenty to look forward to this weekend.