Anybody interested in racing was glued to Royal Ascot last week. I was particularly pleased that two former jump jockeys Graham Lee and Jim Crowley enjoyed success there.
It was great viewing throughout the Festival. I was surprised to read that the television figures were down, but it can be hard for people working with so many midweek days.
Ryan Moore’s nine winners were the main talking point in the media. I don’t know Ryan personally, but he just seems so cool. In these flat races that is exactly what you need to be.
The same could be said about Graham Lee. His win in the Gold Cup was another prime example of the benefit of letting things occur naturally. Some jockeys try to force their way out when they are boxed in.
These important races can be so technical, but I was delighted for Graham because he has always been a good jockey as has Jim Crowley.
Despite all the winners they still have I feel they are under rated by the wider public. Of course people in racing know about their greatness, but when I see both of them in big races I know they have a great chance.
Graham is very focused, and the way he conducts himself means he is a jockey that has always been admired by others. He is so fit and is a thorough professional.
He has a Timmy Murphy sort of style in that he allows a horse to get into its natural rhythm. He was a great jockey when he went to northern England working with trainers like Malcolm Jefferson, Graham Wylie, and Howard Johnson.
During his last days as a jump jockey he was unfortunate in that every time he had a big fall he seemed to break something. He never lost his nerve, though, and he would still comeback to win races.
In the weighing room he’d sit beside AP McCoy sometimes. It was funny because you’d see McCoy sweating to make the right weight. Graham was the opposite; he’d be drinking protein shakes and going to the gym to keep his weight up.
It was a no-brainer for Graham to go riding on the flat. With his weight being naturally light and the fact that he was a great horseman he was always going to be a success.
I was delighted for Jim Crowley too. I’ve stayed in contact with him throughout the years and when you see guys like that doing well it gives you a lift. He is so hungry and in the big races he usually rides as if he has a point to prove.
On Sunday I enjoyed my first Father’s Day. Before now I never really appreciated it. I came from a single parent family so it was particularly nice for me to wake up that morning.
Our baby daughter Aoife has been a little unwell recently, but she seems to be getting back to herself. We had a great morning; I got a cup, t-shirt, and a card by Aoife. It was something I never fully appreciated before, but it is different now, and it meant a lot to me.