It's been a sombre week in the racing world. With Royal Ascot less than a week away it's terribly sad that the most successful trainer at the meeting, Sir Henry Cecil, has passed away.
The sport will seem a duller place without the sartorially elegant, brilliant horse trainer in it and I'm glad to have followed the sport during some of his career. It was a privilege to be at Ascot on Champion's Day last year when Frankel won his 14th and final race, a day on which emotions spilled over with the brilliant man's increasingly frail state clear to see.
I remember many years ago going to Warren Place to film Henry's horse to follow for The Racing Channel. He was welcoming and down to earth and it was exciting, as relative newcomer to the sport, to be accepted into the fold. The interview concluded with a tour of his famous rose garden and with Henry showing me various antiquities and mementos he had collected over the years. It was a great experience.
It would be great if one of his horses were to win at Royal Ascot next week and let's hope the flag flies over Warren Place again before too long. \n
Quotes of the week
When I was asked on Sky Sports News this week how he would be remembered, aside from his abilities as a trainer, I said as a true gentleman - and there aren't too many of them around.
I'm not going to be at Royal Ascot as I'm presenting Sky's showjumping coverage from Hickstead for their famous Derby meeting. I'll be keeping a close eye on proceeding though as there are a few horses I fancy strongly.
On Friday I'm sticking with Just the Judge in the Coronation Stakes. I tipped her to win the Irish 1000 Guineas last time out and she duly obliged giving trainer Charlie Hills his first classic winner. She hasn't done much wrong this season and can continue to fly the flag for her young trainer.
The Diamond Jubilee is top class, but I think Reply could run well for Aidan O'Brien. This horse won impressively over seven furlongs in a Listed race at Naas last time out and he is effective over this six furlongs too. He was smart enough to finish third in the Irish 2000 Guineas last season and he enjoys the decent surface he will hopefully get on the final day of the Royal meeting. He offers value in a wide open race.
I also know Andrew Balding is hoping for a decent run from Zanetto. Whilst he is only a three-year-old his trainer holds him in high regard and he's another one to take into consideration.
Just the Judge in the Coronation Stakes
Reply in the Diamond Jubilee @ 20/1 with Sky Bet
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