There’s not too much to report on from the weekend gone by except that I am feeling fine after ending with a fall yesterday. The highlight of the week since last writing my RacingFX blog has to be Adreamstillalive, I rode her to win at Limerick for a fourth time in a row last Thursday! She is a tough sort and despite rising 22lb in the handicap before last week’s win I still think she could be ahead of the handicapper. Henry De Bromhead has her in great order too, so I hope I’m right in thinking there’s more to come from this mare.
This is the week that so many people look forward to in and out of our sport, Saturday is the Grand National and I can’t wait! I will be heading over on Wednesday night for three days of racing. This is the second of the big spring festivals that round off the National Hunt season but whilst it is just as high profile as Cheltenham, it has a completely different feel to it. The Grand National itself is one of the most famous horse races in the world but the meeting is more relaxed than the Cheltenham Festival. Cheltenham is always surrounded by pressure and it’s what everyone has been aiming their best horses at all season, I think Aintree has a more relaxed and exciting atmosphere to it.
As for the big race itself, I can’t wait to get out there and try it again! I haven’t ridden around the National course since winning it last year but I have schooled over the look-a-like fences a few times. My partner this year will be Stellar Notion and he has taken to the fences brilliantly at home. Mind you, that is with one other horse upsides and God knows being surrounded by 39 horses over 4 ¼ miles will be a bit different! Heading into the week, I am of much the same opinion as last year; I know I am on a horse that ticks all the boxes in my opinion and what we need from here is a bit of luck in running.
Looking back at last year it feels incredible! The first circuit was over in a flash, you barely have time to think. The second circuit was a bit different, the field started to thin out, you can start to ride a race and you feel more relaxed. Once we cleared Bechers and the Canal Turn for the last time you can have a look around, assess the situation, see who is good to follow and who isn’t. Once I jumped two out I could hear Davy Russell shouting “go on Davy boy!” Jumping the last, I knew he wouldn’t empty completely but a funny thing happened as something Ruby Walsh had said in a Racing UK interview popped into my head. It was about ‘how to ride the National’ but I didn’t even watch the interview, it was just on in the weighing room one day. I must have subconsciously registered his words, “don’t go for everything until you get to the elbow,” so I didn’t!
That’s all history as they say and now it’s time to look forward. It’s difficult to say who I think is the biggest danger on Saturday but I know I wouldn’t swap Stellar Notion. Good luck to everyone involved.