Adam McNamara on Royal Ascot
- AuthorAdam McNamara
I’m delighted to be teaming up with Harrowells for the upcoming year, and I’ll be writing some blogs during the season to offer up some insights into racing life.
Harrowells offers specialist legal support to trainers, breeders, racecourses, owners and jockeys. Our sponsorship of professional jockey, Adam McNamara, is one of a number of initiatives undertaken in support of the horse racing industry.
Where better to start then with a review of Royal Ascot. The flat's most prestigious meeting once again provided us with raw emotion, drama, excitement and disappointment in equal measure. Five days of riveting action, showcasing the best horses, jockeys and trainers on the planet demonstrated exactly what British racing has to offer on the global stage.
The highlights for me started with Oxted raising the roof in the King Stand under Cieren Fallon for the Teal team, sweeping past a weakening Battash late home and going away at the line. He proved at Ascot that his July Cup win last year was no fluke, and he has to be taken seriously in any sprint at any grade, whether it be at 5 or 6 furlongs. I was especially happy for Roger and Harry Teal. I’ve been in there a couple of times to ride out in the past few months and I’ve seen first hand how hard they work and how much this would mean to them. It’s very much a family run affair and a horse like this proves to everyone that when they have the ammunition, they can more then get the job done. I’ve also been lucky enough to see Oxted in the flesh and watch him galloping up the Long in Lambourn under Harry, and he is a monster up close. The July Cup could be on his agenda again this year and I think he could take a lot of beating. I think you’d have to forgive Battash for the run and assume he will come on for it. He has run well fresh in the past but he’s getting on in years now and it looked to me like he simply got tired late on. I wouldn’t underestimate him for his next run.
I think every jockey in the weighing room will have had a smile on their face watching Joe Fanning kicking clear in the Gold Cup. He really is one of the good guys and has time for everyone. I feel like I’ve been very lucky to share the weighing room with Joe over the last few years. He’s not a man of many words, but when he does open his mouth it pays dividends to listen. I also figured out very quickly how good a judge of pace he was when I was an apprentice up north, and my general rule was that if you were in front of Joe you were going too fast. Similarly, if you’re too far behind him you’re going too slow, and I think that was the case with Stradivarius in the Gold Cup. I genuinely don’t think Stradivarius would have beaten Subjectivist no matter where he sat, but opinion has definitely been split on Frankies ride. It will be interesting to see what happens when those two meet again in the future, but my hunch is Subjectivist is the new kid on the block and Stradivarius may just struggle to rein him in next time as well.
Friday was the only day I can say I didn’t particularly enjoy Ascot. Dragon Symbol losing the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards room was really difficult to watch. I’ve been lucky enough to sit on this horse twice on track and I know just how good he is. We were just touched off in the Sandy Lane on tacky ground by Rohaan, who went on to win the Wokingham off 9st 8, and when I got off him I told Archie he’d win the commonwealth on better ground. Albeit the ground wasn’t as good as we would have liked, I was still confident as it wasn’t as tacky and he would be able to skip through it a little easier. Oisin produced him there at the right time and he just lugged to his right , giving Campanelle a little bump and carrying her across the track. Dragon was first past the post and to my eye was the best horse in the race. I can see the stewards argument to a degree, but I was disappointed in the verdict none the less. Yes, Dragon bumped Campanelle and carried her off her intended line, and if we were in Australia or America I’d fully expect her to be awarded the race. But we’re not, and I’ve always thought that our rules were open to interpretation so that we ensure that the best horse has won the race. I’m aware that I’m probably biased, but I’d argue that Dragon Symbol was definitely the best horse. It’s disappointing for everyone at Archie Watson racing, but at least we’ve come away knowing we have a champion on our hands, and Archie will already be planning his route to Group One glory. The way he’s campaigned this horse tells you everything you need to know about Archie as a trainer. He knows what he has, he knows when and where to run them, and when they show up at the races, they perform. Keep an eye out for Dragon, I think he could be top of this division before the years out.
Glen Shiel also gave the team a great thrill when finishing second in the Diamond Jubilee. He ran Dream of Dreams close under a typically great ride from Hollie Doyle. Last year he improved with every run and I’d imagine it will be a similar story with him this year so you can expect him to add another Group One to his CV before long. He’s been a wonderful horse for Hambleton Racing and their enthusiastic bunch of owners. I was lucky enough to throw my leg over him in France before coronavirus descended upon us, and to my recollection about fifteen members of his syndicate made the journey over to La Croise Laroche to cheer him on. Dream of Dreams was a deserving winner on the day and is a credit to Sir Micheal Stoute at the ripe age of seven.
As far the rest of the season, I was very happy with how things were going until recently. The decision to join Archie Watson almost two years ago has yielded more rides and more winners then in previous years. There’s also been a big difference in the quality of the rides I’ve been getting. I rode my first Group winner for Archie last year on Mighty Gurkha, winning the Sirenia Stakes G3 at Kempton. Riding my first Group winner was always a huge goal of mine, so it was satisfying to tick that one off the list. I came agonisingly close to adding a Group Two to my CV this year on Dragon Symbol in the Sandy Lane at haydock. We lost out by a nose to Rohaan in a photo finish. It’s always hard finishing second by such a small margin, but at the same time it’s great to be getting the chances on good horses and hopefully it won’t be long before my turn comes around again. I also had a fantastic experience riding in my first classic this year, riding Mehmento in the French Guineas for Archie . Seven days of hotel quarantine beforehand wasn’t much fun, but the day itself was something I really enjoyed. Mehmento ran well for a long way and turning in I thought we might just nick it from the front, but it wasn’t to be.
The rest of the season looks a bit unclear at the minute, as I dislocated my shoulder whilst riding at Beverley last week. I was riding a horse called Mr Coalville for Amy Murphy when my shoulder popped out as I tried to use my stick in the finish . I managed to keep pushing for almost a furlong and to the horses credit we still finished second and he looked after me by essentially pulling himself up as I only had one hand. It’s slightly concerning that it popped out so easily and unexpectedly. I’ll be making a trip to Cardiff this week to meet with shoulder specialist Geoff Graham and have a scan, and we’ll make a recovery plan from there. Jockeys are very lucky these days to have the help of the IJF and the rehab centres located around the country. I live only ten minutes from Oaksey house and I’ll have access to physios and fitness instructors to aid the recovery process. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back in the saddle. In the meantime I’ll be popping into Lambourn the watch the gallopers at Archie Watsons, and I’ll be throwing myself into the form book to keep myself occupied.
Photograph courtesy of specialist horse racing photographer, Louise Pollard
Adam is not an employee of Harrowells Limited and is sponsored under a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) compliant sponsorship contract. The views he expresses in his blogs and on his social media accounts are his own.
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