Alex Hammond Blog

Alex Hammond reflects on a potentially highly informative midweek interview, while looking ahead to a resumption of racing on Monday.

In my soon to be 22 years of working in broadcasting I have never heard a trainer so bullish about one of their horses than Martyn Meade was on Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday night.

With Royal Ascot (hopefully) in full swing in two weeks’ time, we were previewing the great meeting in between races at Tampa Bay Downs on the Stateside programme. It was decided that Meade would be an interesting interviewee with Group 1 winner Technician appearing to be an exciting Cup prospect for 2020 and he kindly gave us some of his time.

You never quite know what you are going to get out of such an interview with many in our industry understandably cagey about giving too much away. However, Meade was a dream.

When asked about the untapped potential this horse has as a four-year-old, he waxed lyrical about the horse’s ability, maturity, physicality, temperament and scope. You could imagine the furious clicking on punters’ smart devices and laptops as they rushed to see what price he was for the Gold Cup in a fortnight’s time.

Incidentally he’s now 14/1 from 16s with Sky Bet, so great each-way value. Meade’s only words of caution surrounded ground conditions, which he said wouldn’t want to be extremely fast.

When asked how he felt about the prospect of facing Stradivarius and Kew Gardens, he said he wouldn’t worry about it at all. Some statement. I certainly bought into it, but what finally swung it for me was his sign-off as we wished him well for the season.

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Unprompted, he said: “I can’t emphasise enough he is in cracking form at the moment.”

Away from Technician, he named a horse called Additional as one to watch for the season. He’s an unraced three-year-old son of Night Of Thunder who cost 260,000 guineas as a yearling and the plan is to start him in a seven furlong maiden at Yarmouth for his racecourse debut next week.

He’s a half-brother to Aclaim who won the Group 1 Prix de la Foret for the stable three years ago and it sounds like he’s showing all the right signs at home.

Ebury and Rise Hall are another couple of horses that he hopes will have decent handicaps in them. Rise Hall is being aimed at the John Smith’s Cup at York, that will be his main early season target.

The mention of Royal Ascot gets the pulse racing and with 36 races to enjoy now, it should be a crackerjack of a week. The new format with many of the races shuffled around to fit in with the revised racing schedule sends already significant races, stratospheric.

The likes of the Ribblesdale and King Edward VII Stakes on Tuesday are now significant Oaks and Derby trials and the Coronation Stakes and St. James’s Palace Stakes on the Saturday possibly more influential than the 1000 and 2000 Guineas for the breed overall in 2020.

Back to Wednesday night’s show and we always encourage interaction with emails and tweets from viewers which makes it great fun, but we didn’t expect another gem to be dropped in our laps.

That came in the shape of a well-known racehorse owner sending us the name of one of his unraced two-year-old fillies that has been going well at home. Dave Lowe (of Kachy fame) nominated Caroline Dale as one to watch, with the Queen Mary her target. Let’s hope she gets a run.

So, we are all hanging on tenterhooks to hear if racing is given the green light to resume in Britain on Monday (June 1). If so, I’ll be covering the cards from Newcastle and Deauville for Sky Sports Racing.

Newcastle has attracted a bumper entry and it looks like there could be 10 races on the day. With 72-hour declarations brought in as a new measure during the pandemic, we’ll get the final fields on Friday.

Deauville host the French 1000 and 2000 Guineas, so it should be a superb day. The two French Classics look exceptional, with the Andre Fabre-trained Victor Ludorum Sky Bet’s 2/1 favourite for the Poulain and stablemate Tropbeau 2/1 favourite for the Pouliches.

Victor Ludorum has every chance of bouncing back from his defeat on his reappearance at ParisLongchamp on May 11 with Fabre’s horses running much better now and I like the trainer’s second string Tickle Me Green (6/1 with Sky Bet) in the fillies’ race, to turn the form around with Tropbeau from their seasonal debuts on the same ParisLongchamp card.

Hopefully, we will have some domestic sport to enjoy from next week then and with strict protocols in place, it will be as safe as it is possible to be. Hoping you are all well and see you next week.

Source : Sky Sports