THE transition from the National Hunt campaign to the flat turf season is really starting to gather momentum, with the Grand National now behind us and the Classic trials under way, writes Jason Hall.
The former champion flat jockey Ryan Moore will be hoping for an injury-free season as he bids to regain the crown he lost to the northern rider Paul Hanagan.
Given a clear run, Ryan is the strong favourite to win back the jockeys’ championship, but it is likely he will be focusing most intently on adding to his first two Classic wins gained aboard Workforce and Snow Fairy last term.
Those successes and the subsequent win in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe in the autumn were significant landmarks for the Sussex-born rider, marking a further step forward for a young rider whose skills have never been doubted but which required the achievement of victory at the very highest level to fully vindicate the racing worlds high opinion of his huge talent.
Havant is probably the three-year-old most likely to give Ryan further Classic success this season.
The filly has always pleased her trainer Sir Michael Stoute with her work at home and her win in the Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket confirmed that the stables high hopes for the daughter of Halling were well founded.
She is bred to appreciate the middle distance test of an Oaks filly but the Guineas is likely to be seen as a stepping stone and she is no forlorn hope there either with the bookmakers placing her at the front end of the market.
There is plenty for Ryan to look forward to as the season gets into full swing and there is also the possibility of picking up quality rides from the leading Irish stable of Aidan O’Brien who is short of a stable jockey at this moment.
Gary Moore was very disappointed that Grab The Glory was balloted out of the bumper at Aintree last Saturday and said the gelding is being aimed at a much lesser test at Fontwell next week as he continues his education.
Local trainer Zoe Davison notched a winner at Plumpton on Monday and for good measure supplied the second home as well.
Airedale Lad provided the success under a creditable ride from Mr J Banks who elicited some improvement on the horse’s recent form to repel his challengers.
Sheena West scored on the same card with Mr Muddle who proved to be a cut above his rivals and whilst there she also expressed her pleasure in the performance of Golan Way at the Aintree meeting.
“I thought he would have won if he hadn’t made those mistakes. He really stays very well.
“He might go to the Punchestown Festival in May.”
That is an interesting prospect and going right-handed will, I would have thought, be beneficial for Golan Way.
Speaking of Ireland, the Irish Grand National is now an option for the mare Aimigayle who is trained by Suzy Smith at Lewes.
With the choice of that or the Gold Cup at Sandown it is sure to be an exciting end of term for the Smith yard.
The Grand National last weekend was once again a fantastic event with a sell out 70,000 crowd and millions watching around the world.
The McCain family wrote their name further into the races history with the wonderful success of Ballabriggs.
Personally, it was very disappointing to see the reaction of some corners of the media to the two fatalities in the race.
Balanced debate is the best way forward and to consider racing’s perspective, go to www.britishhorseracing.com and navigate through press centre to press releases.