Fergal O’Brien: Ratify’s right royal memory *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    Grand Military day at Sandown is a great occasion, and this year was especially memorable for us as my partner Sally Randell won the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle on Ratify.

    Sally served in the army, but hadn’t race-ridden in three years, although she has won that race before. Sally said to me a few weeks ago she’d like to compete in the race, and she’d like to ride Ratify. He’d never won over hurdles, and he’s 14, but she’s been riding him out in the past few weeks and his owners John and Val King said they’d like to give it a crack, so we went for it.

    Tactically, she was the most experienced jockey in the race and they won by one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Nicky Henderson’s No Hiding Place. It was Ratify’s first win over hurdles and it was wonderful for both of them.

    Afterwards we went to Windsor Castle to meet The Queen. It’s the third time I’ve met her and she was so relaxed. We had a chat, she was very engaging and said to Sally, “I thought you’d retired” — which of course she has, a couple of times.

    The Queen also said she was pleased to see a 14-year-old racehorse looking so sprightly, which was nice that she’d obviously watched the race and is very interested in her racing. She was there mingling with her guests and she seemed very at home. It was very special and we have some lovely memories.

    A good win for a young jockey

    I was delighted for Jamie Bargary to win the Imperial Cup on Mr Antolini. It was a great effort to win on a 20-1 outsider and, although there was a bit of a barging match, the team came out on top. He’s a good rider and has a supportive boss in Nigel Twiston-Davies. We’re all thrilled for him.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 15 March 2018