Ayr next challenge on the agenda
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Ayr next challenge on the agenda

THESE are testing weeks with big meetings at Cheltenham, Aintree, and Ayr coming so close together.  It is tough for everyone in the industry, but it is important to keep your focus all the time.

With these events being so close together you probably don’t get the same quality of horse going to Ayr which is a pity especially for jockeys like me.  Those of us who didn’t get a winner at Cheltenham or Aintree are looking for something in Ayr.  I’m looking forward to going there.

I was delighted that Donatulo ran so well for me in the Grand National on Saturday.  To get a clean round is an achievement and I was thrilled that Warren Greatrex gave me the opportunity to ride the horse.

Warren Greatrex is one of the best four young trainers coming through at the moment.  It is great for a jockey to ride one of Warren’s horses because he is very approachable.  He is brilliant at assessing races so I always find him interesting to talk to.  Undoubtedly Warren is a trainer on the way up.

Having won on Donatulo at Christmas it was nice to get a good spin from him again at Aintree.  People don’t seem to realise how hard it can be to get a ride in the National.

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Over the last few years I’ve repeatedly spoken to seasoned jockeys, who have always advised me never to think about winning the National when you’re in.  You simply have to enjoy the race and the challenge of trying to get around clean.  The best of horses sometimes don’t finish.

Your first target is to get around clean.  In this day and age you hope the horses won’t be running unless they belong at this level.  Things obviously can happen during the race I can remember people doubting Amberleigh House before he won the race for Graham Lee.

It was pleasing to see Leighton Aspell win the National again on Many Clouds.  He is a very popular jockey – everyone likes him.  It is unbelievable to be first two years in a row on different horses, but it shows what a horseman he is.

There other big racing news was Ryan Moore getting the big job at Coolmore.  He is a global star at this stage so we will all be watching on with interest to see how the partnership goes.  I expect him to be very successful.

A good friend of mine Brian Hughes rode his 100th winner too recently which was encouraging to see.  He is a grafter and he has hooked up nicely with Mick Channon.  Fair play to Brian because he has earned all the praise he is getting.

Personally it was good to win at Plumpton on Anginola for Dave Dennis last Monday week.  It can be tough deciding exactly what to do on a Bank Holiday weekend when there is so much on, but fair play to my agent.  Dave Dennis has started well as a trainer – he had a four timer that day – winning at Market Rasen, two at Huntingdon and my one at Plumpton.

We are all feeling the burn at this stage of the season, but it is crucial to stay positive, and Ayr should be interesting this weekend.

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Selections:

Friday

Fontwell 1.10 Bells N Banjos

Saturday

Ayr 3.45 Al Co