Winners provide a timely injection of hope and confidence

Winners provide a timely injection of hope and confidence

Racing is strange sometimes.  Things mightn’t be going right for you for a while and then it just starts to happen again.  It is like a snowball effect really.

Thankfully we had a little bit of good luck recently- it was a very encouraging week.  On Wednesday I had a winner for Neil Mulholland on Commitment, who has been a good servant for the last few summers.

A couple of weeks ago in the column I wrote about Neil Mulholland being forced to enter two runners in the same race due to a lack of alternative scheduling options.  Commitment was one of those so it was brilliant for everyone that he obliged.

Wednesday was a particularly busy day.  I had rides at Worcester and Bath so it was a long day as I did some work at Jonjo O’Neill’s yard in the morning.  I was caught out a few times having 40 winks of sleep by At The Races Luke Harvey, who put the picture on social media, which was funny.

It was a pity that I didn’t do a double because I came really close at Bath.  I had some respectable runs there, but it was a pity not to win for Jo Hughes on Archilles.

Then on Sunday it was brilliant to pick up a spare ride for Mike Sowersby.  Tennesse Bird hadn’t won in 35 starts so I took great satisfaction from that success.  When I started in England Mike Sowersby was good to me.  You never forget people who help you so it was quite special for me to get a winner for him.

It is lovely when things work out like that.  Mike wouldn’t have the biggest account and neither would the owners of horses in his yard.  They are real loyal racing people, but the way he gets the best from his horses is remarkable.

He believed in the horse feeling it always had ability.  The problem was that the horse was maybe a bit too headstrong, but it was excellent to give them a winner.

It made me reflect on different triumphs I’ve enjoyed throughout the past decade.  I had similar type wins for Neil Mulholland and I even remember a horse Timmy Murphy looked after at Fergal O’Brien’s.  Timmy rang me up and I had a win for them at Taunton.  I had another one like that for Tony Dobbs at Hexham.

It is always nice to repay the faith people have shown in you previously.  That gives you an extra lift and it topped off a nice few days for me.

I’ve been getting more bookings on the flat even though the barbeque season has started again.  I’ll have to mind myself for that because I’ll have to keep an extra eye on my weight.

On Friday I was at Brian Hughes’ 30th birthday party.  I keep forgetting I’m 32 now.  I remember him starting off over here as a 19/20 year old.  The time has just flown by.

At the party he announced his engagement.  We were happy for him because a good few of us jockeys were putting him under pressure.

On Saturday I was at a barbeque at Lee Russell’s which was nice.  His mam and dad were there too so they got to meet our daughter Aoife for the first time.  It was really enjoyable, but it meant that on Monday I had a few pounds to sweat off.

Getting more exposure on the flat is great, I enjoy it.  Getting the best performance from a horse is what interests me the most.  Regardless of being on the flat or over jumps every time I’m in a race I just want the horse to reach its full potential.

I’ve always been attracted by the idea of speed on motorbikes and cars and as I’ve got older I always want to ensure a horse is given the best possible chance to make an impact.  I wouldn’t say I’m a stylist, but I’m consistent at getting the best from horses.  In the past week I’ve proven that.

At the moment jump racing comes first.  If I was offered the position of a flat jockey somewhere that isn’t to say I would turn it down.  Now, though, I earn my living predominantly being a jump jockey.

It is a business for us.  Same as it is for racing in general.  Take Newcastle track for example.  It was nice to see George Baker winning the Northumberland Plate at the weekend.  He looks after himself very well.

But plans are being put in place to change the track to an all weather.  Financially it probably makes sense with the amount of stags, hens, and students in the region.  They could be attracted to different events there throughout the year.

Personally it is disappointing because I love riding at that track.  But it makes sense to have an all weather facility up north.  At some stage in your career it becomes a business for jockeys too.