Catching Up with David Probert: 22nd May 2019

The season is really ramping up now and I’ve been keeping very busy. I’m on 49 winners for 2019 just now and am obviously keen to tick off the 50 as soon as possible. It didn’t happen at Wolves on Tuesday but I’ve some decent chances in the coming days so hopefully we’ll be looking towards 100 before the weekend!

Perhaps the nicest one I’ve ridden since I last spoke to you is Raise You, a three-year-old Lope De Vega colt out of a Galileo mare. He won by six lengths in a Newbury maiden on his first run this season – and that form has worked out well with the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th all winning next time.

I got to sit on him on Saturday in a Listed race over ten furlongs at Newmarket. It’s a very long straight mile and a quarter there, and Raise You likes to get on with things in front. He was a little keen early on which, because we weren’t sure about the trip, probably wasn’t ideal. But he saw it out really nicely and was well on top at the line. He’s a free going sort so I tried to find a little space and get him to relax, which he did do. He’s progressing really fast and might have a tilt at the French Derby next where he’ll hopefully get his favoured soft ground. Who knows, perhaps he’ll be able to dictate a steady gallop and lead all the way.

We also had a nice two-year-old winner the other day at Salisbury. Symbolize is by Starspangledbanner and he surprised us there with how forward he was. He’ll probably go straight to Royal Ascot now, with the Coventry more likely than the Norfolk at this stage. There were solid whispers before the race for the second and third so he could be quite special.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed I’ve been riding a few for Henry Candy recently. Our acquaintance actually goes back to 2014 when I rode for Henry a fair bit. And, since the unfortunate retirement of Fran Berry, Mr Candy has been using me once more. We’ve already teamed up for a couple of winners and I hope there are plenty more where they came from. He’s a great man to ride for, never rushes his horses and knows exactly what he’s got, so I’m lucky to be involved there again.

Riding The Tracks: Epsom

With the Oaks and Derby, as well as the Dash and all the rest of the Derby meeting races coming up in a couple of weeks, here are a few thoughts on riding the unique track at Epsom.

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The five furlong course is straight and downhill for the first three-and-a-half furlongs, but it’s actually deceptively testing in the finish as the turf rises back up again in the last furlong. A high draw is an advantage in big fields as it enables you to get a position close to the stands rail where both the camber and the undulations are slightly less severe. As well as a fast horse you need a lucky one, and it’s certainly an exciting trip to ride with things changing very quickly in the dying strides.

Six furlong races start on the crown of the home turn and if you’re drawn inside you can sometimes get boxed in with nowhere to go. Ideally I’d like a middle draw as that gives the most options for how to ride the race depending on how things are panning out in front of me. If I’ve got a horse with gate speed, I’ll use that to get him into a position and a nice rhythm, trying to keep him balanced on the downhill run into the straight. Plenty lug down the camber in the last half mile which again can make life difficult if you’re holed up on the far rail.

Seven is probably the easiest trip to ride at Epsom. It’s pretty straightforward, you can get yourself a position and – as with most ranges here – they get racing early enough. At seven, there’s room to find a stride, get your horse on the right lead and it’s probably a pretty fair test. In six and seven furlong races if you can get the fractions right on the front it does pay.

The longer races all start in the back straight and there’s quite a climb there which can sap your energy if you get racing early on. When you get to the top of the hill, at about the six pole, you need to make sure you fill your horse up, get him balanced and on the right lead, so that when you’re running back down the hill you’re ready to quicken off the turn and into the straight, making sure that your horse doesn’t hang down the camber.

On softer ground you’ll generally see the jockeys make a beeline for the stands’ rail. It’s a little higher up there, and therefore tends to be drier than other parts of the track as the rain drains down the camber. When it’s wet it can be a plus if you’re drawn high because when the field passes the three and starts running downhill everyone is jostling for the favoured strip; those in the high stalls with good track position can get first dibs on that rail and a clear run through.

Overall it’s a course that takes a bit of knowing, and you sometimes need to be lucky in terms of getting the run of things.

I hope there is something of use in these thoughts when you’re next looking at an Epsom race!

Thanks for reading,

David Probert


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