Well, the big news since my last blog is that I now have a new job — as 2nd jockey for trainer Paul Nicholls.
I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was on my way back from Ffos Las one Monday and got a phone call from Paul asking if I fancied dinner — which I thought was quite generous — and then he offered me the role as 2nd jockey, so that was a pleasant surprise!
Paul was the one that really got me up and running as jockey, so it’s great to be working with him again. I’ve ridden a lot of winners for him in the past — he helped me become champion amateur, and I rode around 40 winners for him as a conditional.
He even trained the first winner I rode under Rules — Lou Du Moulin Mas at Newbury when I was just 17.
Paul has a phenomenal supply of top-quality horses at Ditcheat, so I’m happy to play my part and be involved.
Daryl Jacob [who is H&H magazine’s new racing columnist] is 1st jockey to Paul and he’s a good friend of mine, so it’s nice to be part of the team.
Daryl’s been off recently with a shoulder injury — which is always frustrating for a jockey — but that means I’ve had a good start to my new job picking up some nice rides!
I was aboard Rolling Aces over in Down Royal (2 November, Powers Irish Whiskey Chase, pictured right) and Wonderful Charm at Wincanton (9 November, Rising Stars Novices’ Chase). These were a couple of prestigious Grade 2 wins, which is a real boost to the confidence at this stage in the season.
Paul is based not far from me in Somerset, and I now go on a weekly basis to school at his yard. He has an indoor school and does the majority of his work there. The horses will jump around 30-40 hurdles in a session, with jockeys riding showjumping length.
You school the horses at a steady canter and meet hurdles at various strides. It’s as good for the jockey as it is for a horse! I do enjoy this though and it reminds me of my showjumping days when I was a teenager.
A special win with Melodic Rendezvous
Although I’m now 2nd jockey to Paul, I’ll still keep my ties with trainers Kim Bailey and Jeremy Scott, who have both been legends.
And talking of Jeremy Scott, it was lovely to win the Elite hurdle on Melodic Rendezvous (pictured top) last Saturday at Wincanton for him. I won my first Grade 1 — in January — on Melodic Rendezvous so he’s a special horse to me.
You wouldn’t think he was anything flashy to look at, but he’s a little dude of a horse.
A few weeks ago I was talking about Kim Bailey’s Harry Topper in my blog. I’d been schooling him after he’d been with eventer Chris King and Yogi Breisner.
Chris works a few racehorses over the summer, some that have jumping difficulties in races, and he does a lot of pole work and grid work with them, which builds their confidence for racing.
Obviously what they did worked out well — Harry Topper won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (2 November).
This really shows the importance of bring horses back to basics.
AP McCoy’s 4,000th win is obviously the big talk in the sport at the moment — he’s 2nd to none.
It’s an amazing achievement and fantastic for racing — and equestrianism — as a whole. Having the all photos and stories about him in the national papers is a positive step for horse sport in general.
He’s a great role model for any young rider as he has such drive to win. I think he should be paid more than a footballer, seeing as he goes out and gives his all every day, not just once a week!
I was at Towcester when he won last week and it was wonderful to be there for his big moment. The reception he got coming back to the winners’ enclosure was worthy of any Cheltenham Festival winner. The atmosphere was brilliant. Well done AP!
Cheltenham’s Open meeting is happening this weekend, but I’m likely to be racing at Uttoxeter or Fontwell, and hoping for some more winners!
Enjoy the weekend, whatever you’re up to.