It’s been a busy few weeks, I’ve mainly been driving up and down the country, so I’ve spent plenty of quality time with my car.

However, as a total change to the norm, I took part in the Clydesdale race on Sunday (23 November) at Exeter, which was great fun.

It was the second year they’ve run it, and it drew in around 3,000 people— bigger than Haldon Gold Cup day I think.

I was riding the same horse as last year, my old mate Big Al (pictured in the red and yellow colours), and we finished third — again. The same horse, Tom Parker, won as last year. I reckon they had a chat among themselves.

Big Al was great — but third is clearly his position, he’s found it and he’s sticking with it. It’s great entertainment though, and there was a massive crowd who all seemed to be loving it.

Racing a Clydesdale is obviously very different to riding a thoroughbred — they’re much wider and slower for starters! But they were raring to go and as soon as the flag went they were off into canter. It was a bit like going back to Pony Club — I gave mine a couple of Pony Club kicks to get him going.

People kept asking what the going was like. It was soft, but on a horse that size it was pretty much good to firm — they made light weather of the ground with their massive feet.

It was a great atmosphere and some good light-hearted fun. All the jockeys and especially the horses enjoyed it too.

A cover star

There’s been some quality racing recently.

P001_HAH_MAY22.inddI’ve got a nice ride this weekend — Irving in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. He fell last time out at Wincanton but he’s been doing a lot of schooling and he doesn’t seem to be lacking any confidence, but we’ll see how he goes in the race. We’ve done as much homework as we can do with him, so we’re prepared but you don’t really know until you get there.

He was featured on the H&H cover with me on board couple of weeks ago for the National Hunt special (6 November) so it will be nice to be reunited with him.

I got a fair few phone calls about that, I’d always wanted to be a cover star…

Top class racing

I’ve had a couple of nice winners recently too — Jolly’s Cracked It has won twice at Ascot this month, which has been great. He’s trained by Harry Fry and is a really nice horse and definitely one for the future. I think he’ll be aimed at a Grade One Hurdle soon. He’s got bundles of potential.

Melodic Rendezvous — who I won my first Grade One on — was out at Haydock at the weekend, while I was riding at Ascot. It was weird not riding him and I was a bit disappointed with his run. The race was run on a flat course though, which isn’t ideal for him and he was taking on some strong horses including The New One. When you’re up against horses of that calibre you need everything in your favour. However, on a different day I think he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

It was nice to see Willie Mullins bring his horses over from Ireland — it’s great for English racing as it makes it more competitive. Not so good for us as they win everything! Faugheen ran really well under Ruby Walsh at Ascot. So it was great to see them, but we don’t want to see them too often as they make life harder!

Enjoy the racing this weekend,

Nick

 

Main photograph courtesy of Malcolm Snelgrove