I’m shocked that shrewd operator Alan Swinbank has died
18 May 2017
It’s only right that I start this week’s column by paying tribute to trainer Alan Swinbank, who died on Wednesday.
Alan gave me a few winners when I started out as an apprentice and I will always be grateful to him for supporting me in those early years.
He will always be known for his exploits with the globetrotting Collier Hill, but he will also be remembered for being a very shrewd operator who knew how to turn over a pound.
His death appeared to be very sudden and the racing community in the north of England will be shocked by the news, given how many up here would have crossed paths with Alan.
My condolences go out to his family and friends.
Alan had a very good record at Thirsk, and that's where I will be on Saturday.
Mecca’s Minstrel makes her debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes.
She represents the same connections as Mecca’s Angel; owner David Metcalfe, trainer Michael Dods and myself on top and the similarities don’t end there.
Mecca’s Angel also made her debut in this race and this has always been the plan for Mecca’s Minstrel. She has been working nicely, although it’s too early to say what level she might be up to. If she’s a shadow of Mecca’s Angel, then we’ll be happy.
My best ride of the weekend looks to be Naggers, who runs in the UKinsuranceNET Handicap.
I rode him on his seasonal debut at the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster last month and he was eye-catching to say the least.
He will like the easy ground and if he improves on his first run of the year – as you’d expect him to – then he will take all the beating.
I rode Blue Jacket the time before last, when we won a shade cosily at Catterick. She then ran encouragingly enough at Haydock at the end of last month, and she shouldn’t be far away in the 5.40pm.
I head to Doncaster in the evening to ride Chipping in the sunbets.co.uk Bet £5 & Get £10 Handicap. He’s a horse we like a fair bit. He won on his second start last season and then didn’t appear to handle the quickish ground, or track, at Pontefract on his reappearance last month. We’re expecting a big run.
The big race of the day is the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and I can’t see past Ribchester. He’s the top-rated in the field and has rock-solid Group One form in the book. He ran a blinder in Dubai to show he’s as good as ever and I’d love to be on him.
Finally, a word on King’s Gift, who didn’t disgrace himself in the French 2000 Guineas last weekend. The ground made it a very tiring race and it rode like a top-class Classic. He will make his mark at Group Three or Listed class this season.