17 January 2019
The winners were rolling in a couple of weeks ago, but this has been a frustrating week. Since I rode Melchior King to win at Chepstow last Monday, it took me until Kelso on Sunday to ride another winner.
They weren’t running badly but it’s really frustrating to ride lots of placed horses without picking up a win. I’m always aware that on a different day, or with slightly different conditions we might have won. I try not to get grumpy! I’m still 24 or 25 ahead for the jockeys title, but I do need to keep the pressure on.
The win at Kelso came on Encore Champs for Warren Greatrex, and that made the long trip to Scotland worthwhile.
At Warwick on Saturday I was on the favourite Tidal Flow in the Grade 2 novice hurdle for Philip Hobbs, in the Native River colours of Brocade Racing. I'd had high hopes as I’d won on him the last two runs, but he was disappointing. He seemed fine afterwards, so we’ll try again.
I rode Ultragold for Colin Tizzard in the valuable staying chase at Warwick, his next target will be the Grand National.
My luck took another turn for the worse at Fontwell on Monday. I thought I had a great chance on the odds on favourite Umndeni, but another horse whipped round at the tapes, knocking into us and knocking me off the horse. I then got trampled by those coming behind me. I’ve got a badly bruised thigh which meant I had to give up my remaining rides.
I missed Tuesday and Wednesday too, on Tuesday I could hardly move it but there was an improvement by Wednesday. I’ve been icing it and I’ve seen a local physio who gave me some exercises to try to reduce the inflammation and loosen it up a bit.
I don’t want to tempt fate but I’ve been pretty lucky over the last 10 years, when I’ve had no major spells on the sidelines, although I’ve previously broken legs and my pelvis. I think it works in my favour that I’m one of the shorter, stockier ones in the weighing room.
I’m back in action on Thursday at Ludlow, I’d say my best chance will come on Little Miss Poet in the mares’ novices’ chase. This will be her first run over fences but I think she’ll jump well. I’ve already won on her over hurdles.
I’m expecting to be riding at Chepstow on Friday. On Saturday at Haydock Western Ryder holds an entry in the Champion Hurdle Trial. The likely favourite will be Brain Power which is now fancied for the big race after successfully returning from chasing to hurdling this year.
Western Ryder needs to improve, he’s been beaten by a couple of the other entrants before, but I think he is still going the right way and I hope he won’t be far off. As it’s a Grade 2 he will receive weight from Brain Power.
It's rare but some horses can surprise you be improving beyond all recognition so I'm always hopeful. One of the best I’ve been associated with was Rooster Booster. He kept finishing second in big handicaps and was starting to get called a few rude names, but every time he improved, he went up in the handicap. His first big win (and only his second career win) came in the County Hurdle at the age of 8. He then won everything following year, including the Champion Hurdle.
We were all shocked and horrified to hear of the fatal accident at Ian Jardine’s stables on Tuesday. Work rider Natasha Galpin was killed when the horse she was riding collapsed and died on the gallops. News like this affects us all and is a reminder of how dangerous the sport can be. The thoughts of everyone in the weighing room will be with her family.