Course & Distance are delighted to announce that Classic-winning jockey Kevin Darley will be joining our tour to this year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
Darley, the champion Flat jockey in 2000, is probably best remembered for his victories aboard the flying filly Attraction during a vintage 2004, his St Leger success aboard the Yorkshire-trained Bollin Eric (2002), as well as his three wins in the Racing Post Trophy (Celtic Swing 1994, High Chaparral 2001 and Brian Boru 2002).
Darley, who rode over 2,500 winners during his career - including 16 Royal Ascot victories, has also acted as chief executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association since his retirement from the saddle in 2007.
Darley told www.cdhorseracingtours.com: "As a jockey I always found Longchamp one of the most difficult tracks to ride with my only winner at the track being the Patrick Haslam trained Kinnaird at the Arc meeting in the Prix de l’Opera back in 2005.
"The closest I finished in the Arc itself was Bollin Eric in 2003 when we finished a creditable eighth behind the Aga Khan’s Dalakhani.
"The atmosphere at Longchamp on Arc day is brilliant as English and Irish racegoers turn up in their hundreds to see one of the greatest races in the calendar.
"Walking around the paddock we often hear the good will gestures from the legions of foreign supporters which is always great to hear.
"French races are far more tactical than here in the UK as the majority of horses are ridden for their finishing speed. During my association with Mark Johnson we regularly used to visit Longchamp with a typical MJ galloper to try and make a race a test of stamina with the confidence that Mark’s horses just keep going.
"However, on many occasions we would lead until inside the final furlong only to be swamped close home by French horses coming past us like Exocet missiles. That said, my advice to any jockey riding in the Arc would be 'when in France do as the French do' and ride your horse to finish.
"Three year olds have a very good record in the race winning 16 of the last 20 runnings and being an avid fan of Camelot, ever since I saw him win the Racing Post Trophy, he has all the right credentials going in to the race.
"He has tactical speed, which will enable him to travel and hold a reasonable position, and an explosive turn of foot. On a track that wasn’t really to his liking in the Epsom Derby he picked up where it mattered and I see no reason why he shouldn’t progress throughout the year and emulate the success of the great Sea The Stars back in 2009," Darley explained.
Looking ahead to this Saturday's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, Darley told www.cdhorseracingtours.com: "I was fortunate enough to have won the Plate twice, Far Cry for Martin Pipe in 1999 and Bay of Islands for Dave Morris in 2000.
"The Plate, or the Pitman's Derby as it’s known, is always a very competitive handicap run over two miles on what is a very stiff, testing track.
"Horses at the top of the handicap can often get found out over this distance and although last year's winner Tominator still looks well in, he will have to improve from his recent form.
"Mount Athos trained by Luca Cumani won a decent handicap at Newmarket last time out under a big weight over 1m 6f, but could find it difficult over the extra two furlongs in a more competitive field.
"Gulf of Naples ran a big race to finish fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup, behind Colour Vision, but could be in danger of feeling the effects of a hard race only a few days ago.
"Ile De Re, trained by Donald McCain and winner of the Chester Cup last time out, is still on a very handy weight of 9st 2lb and appears to be the horse they all have to beat," Darley concluded.