Flat Racing & Me
Many folk will know by now as I go on about it a lot that i’m one of the rarer breeds that prefers the flat. I do like the jumps too but the flat always wins for me.
There’s too much emphasis on Cheltenham when it comes to the jumps for me as the whole UK season seems to revolve around that. Whereas on the flat we get big festival most months at the likes of Chester, York, Goodwood, Ascot, Newmarket and so on.
I don’t particularly like seeing horses crawl home over 3-4 miles in heavy ground at tracks like Haydock, just a personal opinion of mine but I find it hard to watch a horse trying to get over the last couple of flights when having slogged through miles of desperate ground.
Favourite Flat Jockeys:
1.) Silvestre De Sousa:
SDS is possibly my number one jockey when it comes to the flat. In my honest opinion if I had a bundle of Group 1 horses at my disposal Silvestre would be riding them all.
I still find it fascinating that in a lot of these Group 1 contests he’s often on outsiders and rarely on horses at the top of the market. He’s also as strong as they come in the finish and gets up on horses that shouldn’t be winning races.
2.) Joe Fanning:
I’m a big fan of Joe Fanning because I like it when jockeys keep it simple and Joe is a master of doing that. He often dictates the pace in races and is a master at doing so in my opinion.
A bit like De Sousa his work ethic is second to none as he often drives the length of the country doing a couple of meetings a day to pick up rides.
3.) Frankie Dettori:
I couldn’t leave the showman himself out of my favourite flat jockeys. I love Frankie not just because he’s a fantastic rider but because he’s great for the game itself.
I’ve met him several times at courses and he’s a delight to be in the presence of. He’s had his troubles off the track but has bounced back in emphatic style whilst teaming up with John Gosden to win big Group 1’s all over Europe.
4.) Pat Smullen
The Irish King, Pat Smullen had to make it in here because he’s just so consistent at the top level year in year out.
He did actually just get edged out by Colin Keane last season however he was still bang there with a mountain of winners to his name. A fantastic rider and will certainly go down as one of the greats.
Favourite Flat Trainer:
One of the nicest people i’ve met on track and an all round outstanding man. John Gosden really is a master trainer and is one of the most genuine people in the game in my opinion.
He churns out Group 1 winners every season and claims some of the biggest prizes around the world. Enable, Cracksman, Jack Hobbs, Golden Horn to name but a few of the horses he’s trained recently who have ended up at the top of the tree.
Best Performance Seen Live Recently:
A very hard one to narrow it down too but recently one of the best performances i’ve seen on the flat is Cracksman winning the Great Voltigeur at York.
It wasn’t the best of fields he beat that day but it was a joy to watch him just power away when Frankie asked him to quicken. It was that day I think he started to show his future Group 1 credentials.
Favourite Flat Horse:
Now I know the obvious answer would be Frankel however for me it has to be Golden Horn. The amount of top races he won in such a short period of time was unbelievable. The Dante, Epsom Derby, Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes, The Arc and was runner up at the Breeders Cup to a future Arc winner.
He danced every dance and was only ever beaten twice both times on softer ground than ideal. His win in the Arc in 2015 was my personal favourite though when he lowered the colours of the mighty Treve. The way he powered down that Longchamp straight was a sight to behold and one of the best rides i’ve ever seen from Frankie. Outstanding.
Favourite Flat Racecourse:
It was a tough one this was because i’ve got a soft spot for Doncaster however I really fell in love with York last season. I did both the Dante and Ebor Festivals as well as a couple of other meetings there and it really is a special place. One of the best cities i’ve ever been to as well an all round fabulous place.
I had the pleasure of seeing some fantastic animals there last season, Cracksman, Lady Aurelia, Ulysses, Churchill to name but a few. I can’t wait to return there soon for the Dante meeting.
Favourite Flat Meeting:
York Ebor Festival
The Ebor Festival comes around at the end of August and has the likes of the Juddmonte and the Nunthorpe Stakes at the heart of affairs.
A fantastic meeting which attracts some of the best horses from around the globe and i’d recommend any racing fan to attend if they haven’t already.