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Tips and blog from Alex Hammond including Ripon Great St Wilfrid

Alex Hammond is looking forward to the key action of the weekend and recommends keeping a close eye on Mark’s Choice no matter what race he finds himself in.

I just turned on my laptop and it kindly reminded me that we were in the middle of a heat wave.

I’m fully aware of this, as is my garden, and if a garden hose ban is introduced in my area, I won’t have to think about swinging kettlebells as I’ll be dragging watering cans to keep important plants alive .

Imagine running a racetrack or maintaining gallops? This presents challenges to everyone in the industry, making my gardening dilemmas pale and insignificant.

Besides being a wilted flower myself, it’s been a fun week.

The Racing League kicked off at Doncaster and the Shergar Cup provided its usual razzmatazz on Saturday. Both events allowed participants to showcase their skills in a competitive environment, and Jo Mason is one jockey who was able to demonstrate her skills to a wider audience.

She spoke to us about Sky Sports Racing in Doncaster and his enthusiasm and engaging personality shone through. It was her riding that made her stand out at Ascot with a winner for the women’s team on the Amanzoe trained by William Haggas.

Make no mistake, this was a high pressure mount for the former amateur rider turned pro jockey. Her first race for Haggas, over a well-imagined favorite, in a prized contest, and she was pretty cool against a world-class field.

The unique nature of this event gives jockeys the opportunity to ride for stables that wouldn’t typically be on their radar, and in the past this has resulted in the formation of working relationships.

At a time when the race is under increasing pressure and many issues are causing considerable discontent, it’s refreshing to meet Mason’s effervescent personality and watch her perform on a world-class stage.

Hope the temperatures will be a bit cooler in Yorkshire as I leave for Ripon on Saturday for the William Hill Great St Wilfridone of the big betting races of the weekend.

Chances are Mason will be in action at the Garden Racecourse, a track at which she boasts a 20% strike rate, so keep your eyes peeled for the statement.

There is a good entrance for the handicap of six stages with black rod one of the protagonists, the four-year-old will make his first start for Middleham manager Ed Bethell if he is entered into the race on Thursday morning. He is an exciting addition to the yard, and the pressure is on Bethell to realize this horse’s considerable potential.

Sky Bet have installed him as joint 8/1 favorite to win for their new manager and he will be top of my shortlist. He was declared to run in the July Cup but didn’t run because of the terrain and despite a huge price tag before his withdrawal, I thought he could run well in that Group 1.

It’s the esteem that his relations hold for him, so this handicap should be well in his compass. I’m a big fan of this horse, he’s still relatively little raced, and I think he’ll move on to bigger things in the future.

His former trainer Michael Dods recently won the Stewards’ Cup with Commanche Falls, he also saddled Tinto to finish fifth at Goodwood, and the latter could start again here (12/1 with Sky Bet). Dods won that famous handicap in 2019, so he knows what it takes, and this horse has plenty to recommend him. He hasn’t been with Dods long (bought for just 16,000 guineas at the Horses in Training sales in October) and has already won two races for the stable. His Ripon record is good and he has gained a mark of 6 pounds more in the past.

At the same price Just another bottle is to be considered. He’s a real operator here with three wins in three starts. He won that race last year with a mark 13 pounds less than his current rating, but he won twice over the course and distance afterwards and his last winning mark was just 3 pounds. less than its current 105. He needs those blinders to keep working because he’s a wise soul and there’s no wiggle room with his weight.

summerghand is 10/1 and cannot be reduced 10lbs lower than last hit in a handicap, in the 2020 Stewards’ Cup. His racing style means he will need luck to race and supporting him is not for the faint hearted.

It’s a big handicap (hopefully in the current climate) and luck is in order. The coin toss usually has an impact, but we should prevent it because the consolation race opens up the map and I imagine that’s where Mark’s choice will end if connections declare it to run.

He’s become a bit of a ‘cliff horse’ for me this season, he hasn’t won since last autumn and is now making his debut for a new trainer after being replaced by Adrian Keatley by his owners. Following its period of infertility, it has fallen to attractive ratings and if the wind issues that have plagued it in the past can be managed, it could crop up anytime soon.

He is going particularly well at Ripon, including a third place and victory in the consolation race last year. He’s 33/1 for the main race, but let’s see what he gets into if declared Thursday morning.

On Sundays the racing roadshow heads to Deauville, and in August this is the place to be for top level flat racing.

Group 1 Jacques le Marois Prize is the climax and is shaping up to be a high quality revival. Palace Pier have won the last two races of this one-mile contest and John and Thady Gosden have another live contender in Inspiral, after it was reported she shone on the Newmarket Gallops midweek .

She lost her unbeaten record at Falmouth last time out, but hopefully she’s back to her best. She will have to be, because Coroebus, winner of the 2000 Guineas and St. James’s Palace, is on the field, as is Maljoom, unlucky fourth at St James’s Palace.

Joseph O’Brien takes the bold move to drop his Prince of Wales’s Stakes State Of Rest winner to a mile and the Irish 2000 Guineas Native Trail winner also returns to distance after being beaten a mile and a quarter in the Coral – Eclipse the last time. The latter, however, seems versatile when it comes to travel and has stayed well at Sandown.

It seems careless not to mention some of the other entries, as they will not be moved in this lineup. Tenebrism, Prosperous Voyage, and Modern Games are also included, but they are not certain to work.

Either way, there will be an appetizing field in Normandy and it’s hard to nail its colors to a specific mast. It would be nice to see Maljoom show us what he’s capable of after his hopeless stint at Royal Ascot and he’s yet to hit the ceiling of his abilities. He is 5/2 second favorite with Sky Bet.

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