I don’t know what to say about Stellar Notion. We jumped the first six fences in Saturday’s Grand National brilliantly and I took a pull after Bechers because we were going so well. I was very happy with how we had started, we had loads of room, he was getting a good sight of his fences and jumping well. What happened next I’m not sure, maybe he got a fright but the writing was on the wall very quickly and he didn’t want to carry on. I couldn’t have asked for better jumping the Canal Turn and having landed in fourth or fifth place and travelling well I was amazed that I had to pull up about two furlongs later!
Horses are a great leveller and sometimes they perform in a way that is difficult to explain. I know that Henry and his team will be doing their best to get to the bottom of why he stopped so quickly. I saw Henry at Tramore races yesterday and he said that the horse seems to be fine so it’s a bit of a mystery. Things like that can be tricky for trainers as everyone likes to have an explanation, hopefully something will come to light in the next few days.
My individual performance aside, the National is a race like no other and it was incredible to be part of it again. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or the heaving parade ring I’m not sure but it seems to affect connections in the build up! Everyone is a bit more on edge than usual as you chat in the paddock. You don’t tend to get very specific instructions either, just a roughly shared plan as everyone knows it is subject to change. The parade makes the atmosphere electric. The stands are absolutely packed and you can really feel the buzz for what is about to happen. You canter down the track to have a look at the first fence and back to the start to get your girths checked, at which point it is goggles down and you are in race mode.
I couldn’t be happier for Derek Fox. I have seen him riding in Ireland a few times at tracks like Sligo and Downpatrick and he is as cool and calm as they come on a horse. His ride in the National was a carbon copy of the way he rides every day. He is obviously very good at dropping a horse into a race and getting them into a good rhythm, he deserves all the credit he gets for winning the National.
I have to mention Robbie Power as well; his form in recent months has been nothing short of amazing! He is riding with so much confidence and it is great to watch ………… when I’m not in the race! Robbie used to ride all my father’s horses too so I know him pretty well and it’s thrill to see him doing so well lately.
Here’s hoping the Irish National will be a bit more lucky on Easter Monday.