The jumps season is well underway now and I’m very busy racing most days. All the big names are coming out so it’s getting interesting.
It was great to ride a winner last weekend at Aintree. I was on Karinga Dancer (pictured), trained by Harry Fry — brother of H&H eventing blogger Rosie. The horse put up a very good performance and I was grateful to have the ride.
With all the racing going on, there’s also a lot of driving — I’ve done about 2,000 miles in the past 2 weeks!
With a lot of hours in the car we often share lifts with other jockeys. Most of the conversations couldn’t be shared here, but it makes the time go quicker!
I’ve also bought a new pillow to have a little snooze when I’m not on driving duty. I tend to fall asleep if Daryl Jacob is driving, he talks too much…
All the driving can be mentally tiring after riding all day. It can be very easy to drive home after a winner, but it seems a lot longer after a bad day. And then there’s the speeding fines… But there’s highs and lows with the job and it levels out.
Good to see Hunt Ball back
Hunt Ball coming back to England is great news. He was sold earlier in the year and went over to America to race. But the racing over there didn’t play to his strengths — the jumps are smaller and the ground is faster — and he didn’t do so well after a long season.
Now he’s back over here, he’s going to Nicky Henderson’s yard and it will be interesting to see how he goes.
Hunt Ball will always be very special to me as he was my first ever Cheltenham Festival winner [in 2012]. He’s a very easy going horse and a great character.
Sad to miss HOYS
It’s always good to go back to Horse of the Year Show as it brings back good memories — I won there as a child [Supreme Pony of the Year with Joyce Newbery and Debbie Thomas’s Chiddock Over The Limit, pictured below]. As I’ve said before, I may get some stick for it, but showing was a good start — it’s similar to racing as there’s a good buzz and the pressure to win is there.
I was disappointed not to make it this year, but it clashed with racing. Usually I tend to try and get along to watch the puissance, or to take part in the jockey’s scurry, which gets very competitive. I was narrowly beaten last year by Aidan Coleman, but it was great to get back into the HOYS arena.
JT’s charity day
Earlier in October I went across to Limerick for a charity raceday in aid of JT McNamara, who was badly injured in a fall at Cheltenham in March.
The day raised about half a million and it was a brilliant effort from the organisers. The Irish racing community really came together and the money raised was remarkable.
It was a really fun day, and AP McCoy even paid £5,000 for his own boxers in the charity auction!
I was also really pleased to have a winner — we were all drawn horses to ride and I was lucky enough to win. It was my first win in Ireland so that was nice to get it under my belt, especially for such a good cause.
What happened to JT shows how tough the sport can be. A serious fall like that brings everyone together and reminds us of both the dangers and how much everyone involved loves it.
There’s always good banter in the weighing room. Mattie Batchelor is the king of it. Daryl Jacob always gets a lot of abuse, but it was Sam Twiston-Davies’ turn recently.
Sam turned 21 a couple of weeks ago and he came into the weighing room on his birthday wearing a Hello Bud [Aintree’s Becher Chase winner] t-shirt that he’d been given. Now, when you’re 3 and you have a picture of your favourite pony on your front it’s probably quite sweet, but at 21 you’d think he’d have outgrown it. But he loves that horse. Not sure if the ladies will agree…
I’ve got another couple of busy weeks coming up, but I’ll blog again soon.