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Make no mistake, my passion for racing is still strong.

ANYONE who thinks that the fire in my heart for racing - after nearly a quarter of a century and more than 100 Group 1 wins - doesn't burn as brightly as ever should have seen me last Saturday.

I've been off a long time - I got a 10-day ban for dropping my hands in the Oaks, and then nine days for the winning ride on Rewilding at Royal Ascot - so, before I came back yesterday, my last rides had been on Gold Cup day.

I took the opportunity to go on holiday to Majorca, and also went back to see the family in Sardinia.

But last Saturday was my first day back riding out for Godolphin, and on Friday night I was like a kid on Christmas Eve.

I got up at 4.30am because I couldn't wait to get back in the saddle - but who wouldn't want to go back to work when you've got the best job in the world? Riding horses is what I have done all my life, so I wouldn't be normal if I hadn't missed it like crazy, and it was also great to be back and enjoy the chat in the weighing room.

During my time out, I got up to 9st 2lb, but I've done lots of gym work and I'm down to 8st 10lb now.

Of course, the highlight of my weekend now I am back is to ride Delegator in the July Cup at Newmarket today - but, once again, your English summer has made me nervous.

The weather has been something of a soap opera for this horse, who had to come out of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot after a wet end to the week.

I'm desperate for the rain to stay away, because I really think he's got the credentials to prove himself a Group 1 horse over six furlongs and win today. He's drawn on the outside in 17 of 17, but Starspangledbanner went down the far side to win the race 12 months ago, and I hope Delegator can do the same.

Of my other mounts, MANASSAS must run well in the Bunbury Cup (2.55).

He's as tough as nails as he showed when winning for Martin Dwyer at Royal Ascot, and the draw towards the far side could work in his favour.

COMMISSAR has it to prove in the Superlative Stakes (2.20) after finishing last but one in the Coventry Stakes, while FALLS OF LORA has top weight in the nursery (5.20) over seven furlongs, but it's never easy for a filly to give weight to colts.

DESERT GAZELLE makes her debut in the six-furlong maiden (4.45) but will benefit from the experience, and STRATEGIC MOUNT, my ride for Paul Cole (left) in the concluding mile-and-ahalf handicap (5.55), will probably need his comeback run.

Don't underestimate ZACYNTHUS in the one-mile handicap (4.10) - he finished last on his first start since last July but I'll be disappointed if he doesn't prove better than that.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 9, 2011
Previous Article:Thinking inside the box.

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