I’ve only been back working in racing for four years but one of my biggest passions fronting the coverage on ITV is to help restore the Derby back to its former glories.
It’s something I feel very strongly about and want to throw the kitchen sink at so the sight of Adayar winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes was wonderful. It was the best possible tonic for the Epsom Classic.
He’s the first Derby winner since the great Galileo to do it 20 years ago – but more revealing is the fact only three others have tried in the interim period.
To have a really good Derby winner is great for the race and connections being sporting enough to have a tilt at the King George is exactly what should happen.
I keep saying that we’ve got one hit with the Derby next year to reinvigorate the race with it being part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Her Majesty will all being well be there and just imagine the crowd we can attract to join in the party.
The Holy Grail would be seeing the Royal silks carried in the race and that dream is still alive after Reach For The Moon won at Newbury last week.
I know the Jockey Club are working really hard preparing for it and we’ll help them every step of the way for what could be a spectacular day at Epsom.
Everything about the King George was good today, I loved Adayar’s performance. It evoked memories of that epic duel between Galileo and Fantastic Light of 2001 as the Classic hero found reserves to fend off a challenge from a crack older horse, this time Mishriff.
Then to see the joy written all over Will Buick’s face afterwards was so important for our terrestrial viewers, it meant the world to him.
Then there’s poor Charlie Appleby who, like so much of the country, has been pinged and forced to watch on from home. I’m told he enjoyed following our coverage with a well-deserved glass of wine.
He’s a fantastic trainer and wonderful for the sport. He’s a tremendous communicator but what a problem he now has in keeping these good three-year-olds apart!
Pulling off the Derby – King George double felt really special and maybe, just maybe, Adayar might be a colt to reinvigorate our oldest Classic too. Could you imagine him rolling into Doncaster for the Cazoo St Leger? They’d pack the stands to see it.
The other thing that I really enjoyed on Saturday was the atmosphere on the track. The buzz was back as a large crowd came through the turnstiles. The reception Love, Broome and Mishriff received when they returned after the King George was something I hadn’t heard for 18 months.
York looked like York again too with 30,000 racegoers in there. It makes me so excited at the prospect of returning to the Knavesmire for the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival next month.
That’s always a magical week, the racing will be spectacular as will the atmosphere and we on ITV are going to trail a number of new innovations over the four days.
I’m looking forward to being an armchair viewer as the Sky Bet Sunday Series gets under way on ITV4 at Musselburgh. It’s always good to try something new and I know the team are motivated to look after the valets and stable staff who are working later than usual on a Sunday afternoon.
It promises to be a really fun series for the family and I wish Oli Bell and the team all the best.
It might help Oli take his mind off the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival Tipping Challenge where his performance is best described as lamentable.
I looked in trouble going into Friday without a winner to my name but a double at Thirsk and York catapulted me up the leaderboard and despite being up against the great and good of Yorkshire racing, I’m still in there pitching, trying to bring the trophy south again.
Richard Fahey has yet to win it – which I can’t see changing – and while the Sporting Life team led with two rounds to go they haven’t had a winner since Wednesday and look a spent force.
Charlie Johnston was the last of 13 entries to land a winning charity bet – but he won’t be the last off the mark at the Qatar Goodwood Festival next week.
What a meeting it promises to be and what’s going to be the headline act? Stradivarius and Battaash are both bidding for a remarkable fifth win at the meeting, the Nassau looks like it might be the race of the week and we haven’t even mentioned Poetic Flare, Alcohol Free et al in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Before then I have to defend my HWPA golf title on Monday before an even more daunting sporting engagement the following evening. I’ll be representing Goodwood in a cricket match against a Lord Taverner’s XI which includes names such as Gower, Gatting, Cowdrey and Small.
I’ll spend Sunday in the nets desperately trying to get my eye back in but still with a smile on my face. Adayar put it there in the King George and even the thought of a Gladstone Small bouncer can’t wipe it away.