It’s Irish National day at Fairyhouse and I’m feeling positive about returning to the track where I recorded my second Grade One win of the season yesterday. I rode Augusta Kate for Willie Mullins in the Mares Novice Hurdle Final and I knew I would win going to the last!
For the first mile and a half she was doing everything ok without feeling on fire. I had to jostle for a position jumping the third last hurdle at which point she sparked up and just came alive under me. I followed Ruby down the straight to challenge at the last but our poor jump put a bit of doubt in my mind about whether we would get there. Fair play to Augusta Kate, she put her head down and battled all the way to the line. Let’s Dance has been very impressive all season and was a worthy favourite but as a jockey you have to look at a race positively and look for the chinks in the other horse’s armour. Augusta Kate had some great form before yesterday and it was only her mistake in the Albert Bartlett that halted her chances at Cheltenham. I thought she had a live chance going into the race and fortunately for me she put her best foot forward and came out of the race as the better mare!
Graded wins are what it’s all about as a jockey. Obviously, we would all like to win every race but riding in top class company is what it’s all about. From a career point of view these are the races you need to be winning to keep things moving forward, so thank you Augusta Kate!
Today I have two rides back at Fairyhouse, Mine Now and Alpha Des Obeaux. I won on Mine Now just over two years ago and it’s fair to say the handicapper hasn’t given him much of a rest since then! He is a real handicap hurdler, he is a slick jumper, travels very well in a race and has a turn of foot as well. He looks like he might be in the grip of the handicapper on paper but we’ll see today.
The Irish National is at 5.00pm and I will be hoping to go one better than I did with my old pal Rule The World two years ago. Today I ride Alpha Des Obeaux for the same owners which is a talking point in itself. Gigginstown have fourteen horses in the race today and whilst it divides opinion in the racing world, I am delighted to be riding for a racing superpower!
I won two from two on AlphaDes Obeaux in novice chases before Christmas and I am looking forward to the National. It’s his first time in a handicap today but he has run in plenty of Grade One company in his life time. Whilst it is a big field, novices have a good record in this race and if everything goes our way I am feeling positive about a first three finish.