IN three weeks I head to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup and I can’t wait to bring you all the best build up on Sky Sports Racing.
Without American racing I would never have got a job on TV talking about the sport I love, so it’s always been my grass roots from a work perspective. It’s also where the ‘Yeeehaaa’ came from.
Back in the day when there were no floodlit meetings it was covering US racing for boss George Irvine on the original racing channel in the evenings – often with Dave Compton, a man who disappeared off the face of the planet – that I cut my cloth.
If you know Dave is all right please let me know!
Dave and I used to love the evening chats, and we would often end a shift late into the night with hundreds of emails we hadn’t been able to read out.
It was there I learnt that interaction was key with viewers. Ask them there favourite sweet as a child and you would get dozens of replies. Ask them the forecast selections and very few. People wanted to chat, to be entertained. It’s worth remembering.
We also loved those gigs as we always got takeout to eat during the show. Chinese one night, pizza the next. Alas those days are long gone.
Since then I’ve been lucky to work at loads of Breeders’ Cup fixtures, and there’s no doubt Del Mar is second only to Santa Anita in terms of experience. Mix top-class racing and beautiful surroundings and you have a potent cocktail.
The American game takes some knowing, and the system horses come through from claimers to allowance to Graded events is not always the easiest to grasp. But once you do it’s a mathematical joy.
While a British audience might turn to the Turf and Mile, what you also learn when actually on track is the only race that really matters is the Classic.
This time a match between Knicks Go and the super tough Essential Quality – who only does enough – would wet the appetite.
But if Medina Spirit, Max Player, Hot Rod Charlie and Life Is Good all turn up it would be a monster event. Just looks at the Tiznow Classic wins to understand the greatness of the contest.
We start building up on Sky at the end of the month and I hope you will relish the coverage as most of you have in previous years.
Domestically I have a feeling the master trainer Phillip Hobbs and Tom O’Brien are going to have a huge season. Hobbs has already landed the Graded Persian War and Silver Trophy at Chepstow.
O’Brien was absolutely gutted he chose wrong in the Persian War, riding the Hobbs-trained second Luttrell Lad instead of the winner Campround.
But on track you would never have known that. Tom was the ultimate professional, beaming from ear to ear for the owners and giving them great insight on their charge.
O’Brien was back with a decent winner Saturday thanks to Hobbs’ Orbys Legend in the Silver Trophy. He gave that a cracker.
With Thyme Hill around the corner, on whom O’Brien landed a Grade 1 at Aintree, O’Brien has much to look forward to and I anticipate a massive season.
This week is all about Champions Day, but who will be champion jockey is up in the air.
William Buick could have a massive day at Wolverhampton this afternoon, and his agent is doing a great job. Oisin Murphy really needs to keep the pressure up and his outside rides need to be stepped up. It’s going to be some battle.
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