Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 23rd August 2014

Racing UK

Hughes’ spine-tingling ride and uplifting words should inspire us all

My main selection today is a strong one in the form of Rocket Ship in the Melrose Handicap.

This horse was really impressive when making all to win at Pontefract last time out and looks to be just the type of horse that will keep on improving for his trainer Sir Michael Stoute. Prior to that Pontefract success he had outclassed a field of maidens at Catterick and I really believe there is an awful lot more to come from this strong stayer.

This is a step up in class for him but I think he has a load of potential that Ryan Moore is capable of unlocking. He rates as the Nap selection for me.

My next best comes in the form of Graphic in the opener. He is trained by William Haggas, who has the best recent strike rate at York and ridden by the jockey with the best strike rate at the track in the form of Moore. That is a potent combination and they team up with a horse who won in good style at Maisons -Laffitte last time out. He also has a record of one from one here at York where he ridden by Moore. He does have a quirky side to him and is best when able to dominate and I can see Moore looking to ride him positively.

My final selection today is in the big race of the day, the Ebor where I think we should be backing Whiplash Willie each-way. He carries top weight, but he deserves to, as he is a class act. His third in the Henry II Stakes to Brown Panther is a stand-out piece of form and more importantly I think this race sets up perfectly for him. He is a hold-up horse, perfect for his jockey Jamie Spencer, who will be able to sit off a strong pace and pick his way through the field. There is certain to be a decent gallop and I can see this classy stayer picking them up late under a cool ride from Spencer.

I was surprised to hear that Spencer is to retire. I am a big fan of his and feel it is a strange decision.

All I want to say at this stage is that there may be more to the decision than meets the eye, and somewhere further down the line I would not be surprised to see Spencer back in the saddle. Let's see what happens.


On Friday Richard Hughes was at his brilliant best in the Nunthorpe Stakes on Sole Power and he was also illuminating in a brief interview with Stewart Machin on , which you can watch here

If you get a chance to watch it listen carefully because it told us all about what it takes to be a top-class jockey and that it is very small margins that separate the very best from the good.

It was revealing that he felt a sure way to get Sole Power beaten was to have continued to let his mount see daylight a furlong and a half out, and that to kick for home then was tantamount to giving the race away.

How many jockeys would have kicked on a furlong and a half out and how many would have ducked back in to find more cover? Not many would have done what Hughes did, and thus not many would have won on that horse on Friday.

Finally Hughes stated that he would rather ride horses like that and get beaten whilst giving them a chance to win than to do the simple and obvious, which gives them no chance.

The words of a man who really gets it and it was not just his ride that made my spine tingle, his words lifted my heart in an era when so many get praised for so-called enterprising kick-on three out  rides.

Good luck on the final day of the Ebor meeting and there is also great action at Goodwood and Cartmel, Newmarket and Redcar on the channel on Saturday!

Angus McNae’s Saturday tips:

2.05 York: Graphic at 5-1 with BetVictor

2.40 York: Rocket Ship at 12-1 with SkyBet

3.40 York: Whiplash Willie each-way at 33-1 with SkyBet