It was very interesting observing Willie Mullins at Cheltenham. The man is a genius. Human beings are creatures of habit, when we have something we just want more.
That type of hunger and attitude is what makes great sportspeople and the way Mullins conducts himself is unbelievable. To see his line of horse boxes parked outside in Cheltenham was a wonderful sight. It reminded me of many of the reasons why I wanted to get involved in horse racing. There is always that sense of wonder which keeps you going even when times are tough.
AP McCoy became Champion jockey, he wanted more. He wanted to keep that title, to stay on top of the pile. Willie Mullins is cut from similar cloth. He had the first three runners in the Champion Hurdle and that night I was watching Racing UK.
There was a good interview with Mullins which told you so much about the man. He was just after having the first three in a huge race, but he was focused on the second horse Arctic Fire. He believed that the horse had shown something to warrant a tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
I was sitting thinking that this is just incredible. Most people would be basking in the glory of such a huge achievement, but Mullins was thinking months down the line. It was an insight into how his brain thinks and operates.
He watches his horses and can come up with a plan of action to best utilise their talents. Not many can to do that in the manner Mullins did at Cheltenham. His horses were in the winners enclosure, he has two top jockeys in Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend, but it was remarkable to watch at close quarters how this guy goes about his business. You can see why he does so well because his crew are so tight knit. That is very important.
Personally I’m glad Cheltenham is over because for most jockeys it becomes a bit like Christmas. Most lads know that nine out of 10 times you’re just there making up the numbers even if you do always have a small bit of hope. The runners I had were each way shots at best, it would have been nice to get a place, but it wasn’t to be. Sometimes people outside of racing don’t completely understand how hard it is to get a runner there because the competition is intense.
That is why I always like to see a trainer like Warren Greatrex getting a winner. His success with Cole Harden was a big statement. Gavin Sheehan is a promising and confident young jockey, who can only get better working for a yard like Warren’s.
I believe that Warren is a shrewd young trainer who looks at every angle. For jockeys he is easy to communicate with and that is very helpful. He is very consistent and it was great to see him having a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.
One of the talking points in the weighing room at Cheltenham was the unfortunate leg injury suffered by a photographer last Wednesday. From a jockey’s perspective it is extremely dangerous. When a field of big runners are involved it is very hard when you are flying through at 40 miles per hour and the photographers are only a couple of feet away from you.
It is extremely dangerous and it is something that needs to be looked at in the future. In some of the Cheltenham races there is hardly any breathing space so it is very tricky and another serious accident needs to be avoided.
Friday: Sedgefield 3pm, Pindar e/way
Saturday: Newbury 2.35pm, Hannah Princess win