The Jockey's Journal: Another moment of Quiet Reflection might just be my best yet
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The Jockey's Journal: Another moment of Quiet Reflection might just be my best yet

IT IS very hard to pinpoint the highlight of your career down to just one moment but, to this point, my winner in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on Friday probably defines that for me personally.

My win at Cheltenham Festival aboard Countrywide Flame in the 2012 Triumph Hurdle is still very special to me, and plenty of others too, but as far as prize money, prestige, location and class go, that Royal Ascot win will be hard to beat.

Riding Karl Burke's Quiet Reflection – who is an absolute dream to ride – that was my first ever Group 1 win on the Flats (a former Jumps jockey riding on the Flats at Ascot!) and it's only when you pack up and leave the track that you begin to assess your achievements properly.

The difference in prize money between a Group 1 race and a Group 2 or Group 3 race is staggering, especially at Royal Ascot. The prize money for that win was £243,000. Now, obviously, I don't get that sort of money, but I do get 7.8 per cent of that (£18,954), so financially it was a big day for me and my family.

To put things into perspective, I go to France a lot because the prize money is very good, but I remember winning a Group 3 out there recently which had a prize of somewhere between £15,000 to £20,000, while my recent win in the Sandy Lane was worth about £50,000. Royal Ascot is on another level.

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My phone was absolutely clogged up with messages congratulating me and the emotions do hit you.

After doing an interview I was coming back in after the award ceremony and Jim Bolger – an absolute legend in racing – shook my hand, and that meant a lot to me because he's a great trainer and has produced a lot of champion riders and trainers.

Then John Francome gave me a ring to congratulate me, as well as old friends from school – teachers too – and then many friends and colleagues. The amount of support I got was overwhelming.

For me, hard work pays off in any sport or any walk of life. My grandmother was a big influence on my life and she always said 'what ever is easiest and tastes good is bad for you, but whatever is difficult and tastes bad is good for you'. That always stuck with me and that's where I get my work ethic from.

You've always got to work hard in whatever you do and, at some stage, it will pay off.

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Social media has been awash with videos and images of me during the race and getting a little bit emotional afterwards, but if you were to ask me which one makes the best viewing it would have to be the Jockey Cam (see below).

It has been a really good invention and allows fans to see things literally from our point of view. In one sense, they're not so nice to have on you in case you get beaten, but we can also use them to go back and analyse what went wrong.

It also shows how little jockeys can see in front of them. People always say 'why didn't you do this' or 'why didn't you do that', but I think the Jockey Cam finally gives outsiders a clue as to how little we can actually see around us.

I can't look around me and see what's going on – who's fallen, who's coming up on the inside or outside – so it's good that viewers can now get a better sense of just how difficult it is to compete.

Having watched the Jockey Cam back, you can see that I broke away well, but I would have preferred to have been tucked in well behind Oisin Murphy on board La Rioja in the purple (no.11), so that I could have pulled out after he dropped back and had a clear run, but that didn't occur because there were two other horses on the outside of him.

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You can also see Richard Kingscote on board Kachy (No.5) coming into my vision on the right. You might notice his horse's head is tilted slightly to the left, so to me that said he was coming back into the pack, and so it proved, as he came right across but ultimately finished second.

If he'd have stayed straight, I still don't think he'd have beaten us, personally, but he may well have done if he'd gotten first run down that far right side and if Ryan Moore (No.8) had have let him get first run then I would have had to wait for Ryan to go after him.

But once I was comfortable with that I had to assess Ryan to see which way he was going to go around James Doyle (No.6) and as he went by him, I knew a gap would appear on the left once I went around him too, and once that gap appeared it all went smoothly from there.

That's my second win on Quiet Reflection in a matter of weeks and I hope to get more chances on her. Once you get a little bit of cover, she goes in to auto-pilot so it's just a matter of me using my feet and body to step on and off the gas.

Ultimately, that's the difference between good horses and champion horses.