As we start to move quickly through February, it wouldn’t be a bad time to take a look at how the season is going as well as the week gone by. Despite finishing second at Clonmel on Thursday, the closest I came to a winner was probably being unseated from Double Island at the same track. Approaching two out I thought we would win if we winged the fence but it wasn’t to be and the rest is history as they say!
We saw some great racing across the UK and Ireland this weekend and for me, nothing was more impressive than Acapella Bourgeois. The three mile Grade Two contest looked very competitive on the face of it but he turned it into a procession. Clearly, Acapella relished the testing conditions but even so it’s not often that you see such a strong stayer and the others were left toiling in his muddy wake!
Looking ahead to the rest of the week it is difficult to know what I will be riding at this stage. That is the unpredictable nature of my job. However, looking at the entries for Punchestown on Wednesday it will be interesting to see the return of Limini. I ride exercise at Willie Mullins’ yard three mornings a week and from what I have seen she looks to be in fine order. I guess she is a little slow to start this season with this being her first outing but it never did Quevega any harm. I expect Willie will prove the theory right again on Wednesday in the race named after the super mare.
On reflection it has been a relatively quiet week for me in comparison to a fairly good spell in recent times. I am one winner away from matching my best tally in Ireland which isn’t bad going by February but winner’s tallies mean nothing unless you can keep up the momentum. Going without a winner for over a week makes it very easy to over analyse yourself and your performances. I am having a good season overall and the horses are running well but there’s nothing more frustrating than hitting the cross bar when you are fit and healthy. I have been fortunate enough to deputise for a few lads during injury but now that they are back riding I need to keep things moving.
As for the rest of the season my highlight would have to be winning the Thyestes Chase and the Irish Champion Hurdle in the same week! The Thyestes is a very prestigious race and being at my local track it is one of those races that I have always hoped to win.
I have formed some good relationships with various owners and trainers this season on both sides of the Irish Sea thanks to my agent. Novice horses are what really excite me as there is always a dream there as to what they could be. Of that division, Monalee is one that could be very good. He will be a better chaser than hurdler but I can’t wait to ride him at the Festival. To ride a winner there would be very special and it’s the ambition of every jockey riding. I would take a ride in the charity race if it meant getting me on the score board there but hopefully it won’t come to that just yet!!