St Leger - At The Races

Danny Tudhope

    Yorkshire-based jockey Danny Tudhope is edging closer to a third century of winners but is determined to add a first ever Group success at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival to his burgeoning CV.

Top Yorkshire-based jockey Danny Tudhope has amassed a CV that most of his northern weighing room colleagues can only dream of. He’s won top level races in Britain, Ireland, France, Canada and the United States but has never tasted Group success on his own doorstep at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival, writes Simon Mapletoft.

Chances on Town Moor have been limited, despite his unquestioned prowess in the saddle, but Tudhope is out to put the record straight with three potential live contenders this year – the speedy Soldier’s Call in the Flying Childers on Friday, Larchmont Lad in the Park Stakes and Commanding Officer in the Champagne Stakes on Saturday.

His quest for more high profile success doesn’t end in his adopted county, however. The Scot is also gunning for victory on Karl Burke’s filly Laurens in the Group 1 Matron Stakes and Suedois in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on September 15th.

“Plans haven’t been confirmed yet but it could be a very exciting week,” says the softly spoken Tudhope, whose modesty contradicts an abundant talent. “I haven’t had many chances in the big races at Doncaster over the years and missed Leger week last year after getting injured at Catterick, but I do have some nice horses to look forward to this time.”

Among them is Archie Watson’s speedball Soldier’s Call, who may hold a favourite’s chance in the Group 2 Flying Childers. The diminutive colt has been good to Tudhope this year, winning the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot before making all to land the Group 3 Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly at the beginning of September.

In fact, success on the son of Showcasing has been sweet for all of his connections: he gave his trainer Archie Watson a first Royal Ascot success and a first Group victory in the familiar grey colours of Tudhope’s sponsor Steve Parkin, of Clipper Logistics.

Soldier's Call wins at Royal Ascot
Soldier's Call winning the Windsor Castle Stakes was a special day for Clipper Logistics

“Soldier’s Call isn’t very big but has speed to burn,” adds Tudhope, who is closing in on his third century in five seasons. “He got into his stride straight away in France and put the race to bed very nicely. Earlier this year I wasn’t sure he’d make up into a Group horse but it’s nice to be proved wrong and he goes to Doncaster with a big chance.”

Tudhope will be donning the Clipper colours again when he gets back on board the Karl Burke-trained Commanding Officer in either the Group 2 Champagne Stakes or the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes over the same seven furlongs.

“He’s a big, scopey two-year-old who hasn’t stopped improving. Whatever he does this year is a bonus so it might be that the Listed race is the best option for him at this stage,” he reasons. “He beat some promising types in the big Convivial Maiden at York during Ebor week and is ready to step up in class.”

Tudhope is the retained rider for Clipper Logistics – a role that arose from his day job as stable jockey to York-based David O’Meara. “Steve’s spent a lot of money improving the quality of his horses and deserves the success that he’s now enjoying,” he adds.

“I first met him a few years ago at David’s, where he has a number of horses in training, and approaching him about the possibility of sponsoring me. Things developed from there and last year I became his retained jockey. He’s very passionate about his racing and now has about 75 in training, as well as a very impressive stud in the Knaresborough area.”

O’Meara has been the principal driving force behind Tudhope’s rise to stardom and the prolific pair are set to link up with proven Pattern performer Larchmont Lad in the Group 2 Park Stakes over the straight seven furlongs on the Saturday.

Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, Larchmont Lad edged out his stable companion So Beloved – partnered by a frustrated Tudhope - in the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh in July, also over seven furlongs.

“He’s a solid horse at that level and seems to have improved for the fitting of cheekpieces,” he explains. “He didn’t run badly in the Group 1 Maurice de Gheest in France the other week but was just out of his class. He’ll definitely be competitive back at Group 2 level.

So Beloved also has an entry in the Park Stakes but has been a frustrating horse, as he showed in the Minstrel. He doesn’t always produce on the track what he shows us at home. So many times he travels like the best horse in the race but doesn’t tend to find much off the bridle.”

Tudhope is preparing for the possibility of flying straight from Doncaster to Dublin in time to partner French Oaks heroine Laurens in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown later that evening. It could turn out to be the spare ride of year following her regular jockey PJ McDonald’s untimely injury in the Newcastle parade ring.

“It’s exciting to get the call up,” he says. “It’s going to be a tough task to beat the Irish filly Alpha Centauri but the drop back in trip looks a positive and she appears to be very straightforward.

“I feel for PJ because he’s absolutely gutted, but I’ve been there so I know what it’s like to be stuck on the sidelines watching someone else ride your best horses. He’ll still have his part to play when I have a good chat with him about the filly before next weekend.”

Tudhope won’t have time to dwell on his performance aboard Laurens. Less than an hour later he will attempt a second consecutive win in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes with O’Meara’s globetrotter Suedois – part owned by Parkin, incidentally.

Race replay: Suedois and Danny Tudope in action winning the 2017 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes .

“He’s been a star for the stable, running so many big races at the highest level over different trips on different soil. The track over there suits him well and I’m looking forward to going back out to The States with him for another crack at the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, which we also won last year.”

Tudhope has often been referred to as a magician in the saddle, but even if he did have the ability to be in two places at once he wouldn’t be able to partner another O’Meara star, Lord Glitters, in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on the same day – a race the trainer landed with Mondialiste in 2015.

“It was nice to get a Group win on him in the Strensall Stakes at York but he escapes a penalty for that which means he’ll only carry about 8st 9lb in Canada,” he says. “I couldn’t do that weight even if I was available but Jamie Spencer knows the horse well and will have no problem on the scales.”

Next weekend promises to be one of the biggest in the rider’s already distinguished career, but there would be something special about achieving that elusive Group success at Doncaster, just a few short miles from where he honed his skills as a teenager at the Northern Racing College.