It was a pity I had a couple of near misses at last week’s Chepstow meeting and then two seconds at Sandown, but I can’t complain about a season in which I won a Gold Cup and finished as champion for the third time. Receiving the trophy on Saturday was a marvellous occasion, though I'm not even sure it has sunk in that I've won it once, let alone three times.
It’s great to be having a few days away with Fiona, while there’s no National Hunt racing this week. The BHA decided a while ago to make a clean break between seasons immediately after the final Sandown meeting.
You may remember the controversy a little while ago when they scheduled an extra meeting at Ayr on the Monday of that otherwise blank week. That created a dilemma for several jockeys who had booked holidays in that week but whose trainers would want to have runners there. To their credit the BHA was quick to admit that it was an honest mistake and the extra fixture was moved back to next Monday, so jockeys could have their week’s break and we all had the benefit of the extra meeting.
I was one of those who spoke out about this when the problem first arose. Not because it affected me, but I’m one of the members on the Board of the Professional Jockeys Association. I felt it was important to speak out on their behalf and make their feelings known and their position understood.
I attend PJA meetings three or four times a year, where the jockeys put forward ideas and in turn hear about others from Paul Struthers and his team. They do a lot of good work, much of it behind the scenes, looking after all aspects of jockeys’ welfare and giving a lot of help to those who need physical and mental support. I’m glad that the latter is becoming more widely understood and increasingly out in the open.
Once racing resumes we’ll be busy with afternoon and evening meetings. Dave Roberts and I are already considering my rides at Uttoxeter or Hexham for the start of the new season on Saturday. I’d like to get off to a flyer and stay ahead of all my younger rivals.