Ryan rides the favourite for the first Classic of the season in the shape of Churchill, but also a handful of other very promising types throughout the card. Here are his views on his six rides on Saturday at Newmarket...
"The step up to a mile won’t be any issue at all for Churchill, Aidan seems very happy with him at home and everything about the horse last season said “class” to me. "
He proved a progressive horse last season and he reappeared better than ever, after being gelded since his last run at Thirsk, when winning the Spring Mile for me at Doncaster. He has been raised 5lb for that win, which is fair enough, and he comes into this race in good shape at home. It's a competitive handicap, as you'd expect, but 1m1f on fast ground will be fine for him.
We know all about Washington DC in this class of race, and if he runs to his best then he won't be far away. He hadn't got his head in front for a while so he had a nice confidence-booster when winning a Listed race at Navan last time, and he is a very capable sprinter in a higher grade than this, as he showed when second to Marsha in the Abbaye and when runner-up to Take Cover at Goodwood. This 5f on quick ground in a big field are fine for him, though he clearly gets 6f well enough, and he doesn't carry a penalty. Luck in-running will clearly play a big part in deciding who wins this wide-open 16-runner race, though, as there is nothing between most of them on official figures.
She proved herself a high-class filly when getting her conditions last season - namely 1m4f on decent ground - and she looks like getting those again here. She was very impressive when beating Found in the Yorkshire Oaks on quick ground last summer and things didn't pan out for her in her two starts afterwards at home and abroad. I wasn't on board when she finished second to Jack Hobbs in the Sheema Classic on her reappearance but you had to be pretty taken with that effort, especially given she probably wouldn't have appreciated the rain there. She just about sets the form standard in here but there will be more to come from Voltigeur third Across The Stars this season. Galapiat steps up in class after easily winning handicaps but you can see the Galileo colt not being disgraced and Arc sixth One Foot In Heaven shouldn't be underestimated if you can forgive him a below-par reappearance, which you probably can given it was over 1m2f. His Hong Kong Vase third in December was a decent effort.
This race will tell us everything about Churchill. And, other than that, there really is very little to say beyond the obvious. We know what a top-class juvenile he was; we know that he handles the track; and we know that he copes well with fast ground. The step up to a mile won't be any issue at all, Aidan seems very happy with him at home and everything about the horse last season said "class" to me.
But just how confident can you be against three unbeaten trials winners, all of whom have the potential to improve a good deal? And there is plenty of substance to those victories, too. Eminent and Al Wukair both beat Group 1 winners in their preps, and Barney Roy will relish stepping back up to a mile after beating the talented Dream Castle over 7f in the Greenham, pulling away at the line.
Of course, I am very hopeful of my colt coming out on top, but common sense tells you that this could be a very good Guineas that will take plenty of winning. And don't forget just how good a race Lancaster Bomber ran when second to Churchill in the Dewhurst, and on his return on dirt in the UAE Derby. The fact he is a 33/1 chance tells you what strength in depth this Classic has.
She won at Yarmouth on her debut and then was stepped up considerably in class to contest the Rockfel. She was far too gassy that day and didn't see her race out, finishing last of eight, but she steps back in class into handicap company off 92, having been working well at home. But she does have it to prove to a certain extent against impressive recent winners like Victory Angel, though the potential is there.
Only five runners in this 1m2f Listed race and my mount probably has as good a chance as any of them. Fielden Stakes winner Khalidi is probably the one to beat on form, but my colt ran well in defeat off 100 in handicap company before just being touched off by Cracksman in the Derby Trial at Epsom last week. I wouldn't be in a rush to write off any of the five, though, as it looks that kind of trappy little race but my colt is fit, well and in-form and is suited by the conditions.