I rode him for the first time in the Spring Cup at Newbury last month and he ran OK there, getting into a bit of trouble at halfway and sticking on well enough. And I see that he has come down 2lb for that run, too. So I actually give him a fair chance here, especially as he is proven in the soft if the rain really gets in. In fact, he wants plenty of cut. He can race handily, and is well drawn in stall two, and it is always nice to see that a horse has winning form at this track, albeit that he was odds-on that day and got beaten at odds of 1-2 at this meeting two years ago!
I believe that Aidan thinks this is a nice prospect. But he will need to be to beat Contributer, who I was very impressed with when I rode him to win at Newbury on his reappearance. I thought Ed was ruining a very workable handicap mark of 85 by running him against much higher-rated horses in that conditions race! But he clearly knew that this horse was destined for Group company sooner rather than later, and he was entered in a few Derby trials. He did give me a very good feel at Newbury.
But Magician is a promising horse in his own right and the fact that he is here tells you that the stable think he is also much better than his official rating of 93 suggests. Yes, his juvenile form leaves him with plenty to find, but what I would say is that he has never had the good ground he probably wants, and hopefully he will get that here and show what he is really capable of. He has winning form on heavy, but I think he would prefer better ground. I'd be surprised if the winner doesn't come from these two.
This is definitely a two-runner race - they are both rated 117 - but I think Memphis Tennessee will have to be on his A-game first time up to get the better of Mount Athos. Memphis Tennessee didn't have anything to beat in this race last year with his main rival Brown Panther disappointing, but he did it smoothly enough in testing conditions. And his placed efforts in the English and Irish Derbys tell you what a class horse he is. However, he hasn't been out since having an issue in the Hardwicke and I would think that it is a fair bet that Luca will have the Marwan Koukash-owned Mount Athos pretty straight for this given the owner's love of winners here. I obviously know the horse very well, having ridden him to the win the Geoffrey Freer as well in the Melbourne Cup and Japan afterwards. He has won first time up for the past two seasons, and will be a tough nut to crack if similarly straight today, though he wouldn't want the ground too soft. There is clearly very little between the pair.
Didn't handle Goodwood in his only defeat in four starts as a juvenile, and he ran a pretty good race on his return when fifth at Newmarket. I think that he will always be best with some cut in the ground, which hopefully he will get here, and he has races in him this season. But probably not from stall 10 of 12 at Chester in a 5f handicap.