A new season brings a fresh start. Last week’s four day break was a good time to reflect on things and it was great to spend some time with my daughter Aoife. I really enjoyed that so I was delighted to have a mini-holiday.
Some of the lads went back to ride at Punchestown other guys went away, but we are back into the thick of the action now again. Having a bit of time to think and take stock of things is hugely important.
At the start of last season I set myself a goal of getting 50 winners. I didn’t quite reach that getting 40, but when you add the five I got on the flat it wasn’t too bad of a campaign.
At the outset I very happy, but after Christmas I didn’t do as well as I would have hoped. That can be difficult when things go like that especially in the latter stages of the season when you begin to feel the burn a little. Of course things can be helped when you get a winner that can relaunch you again.
Personally I think it is important to set targets to test yourself against. I think it is harder if you’re always trying to compete against other jockeys. If things aren’t falling your way it can be very difficult if you’re comparing yourself against others.
AP McCoy was a great one to set targets. Maybe he was setting them because he was that much better than everybody else, but he had only himself to beat when he set them. It is good to have targets and figures in your head because it gives you something to aim for and your focus remains.
As I’ve become older I think I have changed slightly, and since Aoife has been born I look at various things in a different way. At the end of the season for example I’d have been itching, but she puts everything into perspective really.
The only guarantee is that you know you’re going to have ups and downs. Unfortunately we know we will have more downs. Even the likes of AP McCoy, Richard Johnson, and the other top jockeys are the same. We all know in the weighing room how demanding the sport is so that is why we are a tight knit bunch. Of course you’ll have scuffles and argy bargy from time to time, but that is just the way it is.
But what gets you, though, is the passion which exists in jumps racing. I was talking to some of the lads who went to Punchestown. Willie Mullins was the main man again there- he is just an unbelievable trainer. He surrounds himself too with great people like Ruby Walsh. They deserve all the winners they get for the hard work they put in to the game all of the time. In Ireland there is such a desire and passion for the jumps.
But what gets you, though, is the passion which exists in jumps racing. I was talking to some of the lads who went to Punchestown. In Ireland there is such a desire and passion for the jumps.
Take AP McCoy for example. In a year his wins and rides might earn him £250,000 in a year, but when you take tax and travel out it might come to around £100,000. Look at Wayne Rooney then as a contrast; he will get more than that in a week. I’m not knocking footballers or anything, but you can see the sheer passion in what McCoy did.
That is a vital thing. The flat is more business like, that isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable, but it is different. I've always been around dual purpose yards so I’m interested in both, but at this time of the year it is nice to keep an eye on both seasons. At some point, though, I’d like to concentrate on the flat full-time because I really enjoy watching the tactics involved.
Ripon 8.05 Kodicil (each way)
Leopardstown 2.55 OnenightiDreamed