I fly over to Canada to ride Imperial Monarch in the Woodbine International on Sunday night, and it is good to be involved in top class international racing once again.
I have ridden in the race once before, on Ask in 2007, and I certainly hope I don't endure the same near-miss as I did then. That day I got beaten a nose by Cloudy's Knight, just failing to get up.
Imperial Monarch is a horse that I have liked all season, ever since he came from nowhere to win the Sandown Classic Trial back in April.
You will remember that he came down the stands' side on his own in the four-runner race there and he was so far behind coming into the straight, I think the rest of us riding in the race thought he was going be pulled up!
That was desperate ground there, but he has gone to prove himself a very smart colt. He was one of a number of horses to get no sort of run in the French Derby and then showed a really good attitude to win the Grand Prix de Paris in July, another race where there were potential hard luck stories in behind.
He was pulled out of the Irish Derby and sidestepped races such as the Arc for this, so hopefully this very lightly-raced 3yo can go well here. I know the 3yo classic crop have taken a bit of a bashing but it was mildly encouraging to see Masterstroke finish third in the Arc, albeit being beaten seven lengths, and you have to take each horse on its merits. And I like this horse.
But the fact of the matter is that he clearly needs to improve to get the better of Reliable Man and Joshua Tree. You always have to respect the home team, but those two look the horses to beat to me, even though we are also well represented by the likes of Dandino and Wigmore Hall, too.
Reliable Man is another horse to have sidestepped the Arc for this valuable prize, and he is the form horse on his Princes of Wales's Stakes and King George runs this season.
He was only beaten three lengths by So You Think at Royal Ascot, an excellent run over a distance short of his best, and back up to 1m4f he ran a superb race when fourth to Danedream in the King George.
I wouldn't read too much into his defeat in a five-runner race over 1m2f at Maisons-Laffitte last month; he will be fully tuned up for this race, alright.
Joshua Tree is a horse I know well, and he is a horse that knows Woodbine well, having won the race two years ago (when trained by Aidan) and finishing second last year (for Marco).
This is probably a stronger renewal but, against that, Joshua Tree could be an improved performer too. He won the Kergolay for me in August and then appeared to excel himself when just beaten over a length into third behind Orfevre in the Foy.
Hopefully Imperial Monarch can improve past him and Reliable Man, but it is quite a big ask.comments powered by Disqus