I am delighted to have won the Prolinx Lady Jockeys’ Championship – although it was a close run thing between Amy Ryan and me.
Chuffed to bits
The championship was decided on strike rate so going into Kempton’s meeting on Wednesday night, my strike rate was 11.5% and Amy’s was 11.1%. But then I had a winner and Amy had a few rides without success, which means I’ve clinched it now.
I apparently get a cheque for £5,000, which I am chuffed about, so am very grateful to the sponsors and everyone involved with the championship. It’s a generous prize and has added some real spice to the end of the season for us girls.
While Amy lost out, I am sure she won’t be too disappointed as she will be crowned champion apprentice at Doncaster on Saturday.
She will make history by being the first female to win the title outright – I shared it with Saleem Golam a few years back – and she thoroughly deserves it.
Apart from being a likeable person, she has improved so much this season. She has always had a good racing brain but rides a lot tighter now and looks very tidy in a finish. I don’t see why she can’t go on to achieve the sort of success I’ve had. Pedro Mercado from Madrid and Martyn Ellis both asked me my views on Amy via email and Facebook this week, so there’s your answer!
I have picked up a ride in the Betfred November Handicap as Ian Mongan is not around to ride Crystal Gal. I have never ridden her before so I’m shooting in the dark a little although Ian tells me she’s a nice ride and will love the ground.
Saturday will be my last day of riding until February as I’m going to take some time off after my operation on the ankle and come back hungrier than ever next season.
In the hot-seat
Some of you emailed, Facebooked and tweeted in questions this week so here are my answers to some of them.
What is the best horse you have raced this Flat season? Gavin Evans on Twitter
I’m A Dreamer – to win a Grade 1 in America was amazing. She has such a good turn of foot and has been unlucky not to win more top races.
Will you be the main jockey for Michael Bell now that Jamie Spencer has his new retainer job? Speculate2Accumulate on Twitter
I don’t think there will be too much change. There has never been a pecking order as such at the guv’nor’s. It depends on the owners and if you’ve ridden the horses first time out. Michael has been so loyal to me over the years and I still feel very lucky to be part of his stable. Hopefully that will continue next season.
Any plans to write an autobiography? Richard Cobden on Facebook
Yes and it will be a best-seller, as I will be totally frank and honest! But to do that I think I will need to have hung up the boots so it won’t be for a few years yet.
What is your biggest win – Dream Ahead or I’m A Dreamer? Dominic Archer-King on Facebook
Dream Ahead because it was my first and it came at headquarters. It still feels surreal.
Do you follow the National Hunt? Paul Halliwell on Facebook
Not overly but I take my hat off to some of the Flat jockeys, such as Ian Mongan and Kirsty Milczarek, who are riding in a Jumps race at Lingfield on Tuesday. They are a brave lot and I wouldn’t have the guts to do it. I have schooled at Amy Weaver’s before and I was buzzing afterwards. But to do it in the open spaces of a racecourse at breakneck speed is a different kettle of fish!
What’s you Ideal night? Dave Harvey on Facebook
I am so exhausted, I think getting a consistent run of 12-hour sleeps is all I am interested in at the moment! I must be getting old…
Thanks for all your support and see you next season!
First of all I’d like to tell everyone that I haven’t been fighting and don’t have a black eye! I think there was a report, which quoted my agent as saying I’d got a whack in the eye and had to give up my rides at Kempton on Wednesday.
I just got something in my eye at Lingfield, possibly kickback, which was really irritating but the doctor gave me some drops and I’m absolutely fine now so it wasn’t a big deal.
Dreamer can go close
I’ll be watching the Breeders’ Cup with interest over the weekend and will be paying particular interest to I’m A Dreamer, who I’ve ridden on her last two runs in the States.
Richard Hughes takes over now – which is fair enough as she was never my ride, and I’m just grateful to the owners for giving me the chance in the first place. To win a Grade 1 in America is fantastic and one of the real highlights of my career. I’d love it if she could notch another one on Friday.
I think she’s got a decent chance too. She’s closely matched with Nahrain on her last run in the Flower Bowl. She was only beaten a length but was carrying a penalty so they shouldn’t finish too far apart
My friend Laura Pike is over with her, and says she’s settled in beautifully and everything has gone according to plan, so she looks a little over-priced according to the bookies.
I’ve got a couple of rides at Newmarket on Friday. Firstly I’m on Woodlandsway in the Bosra Sham. She looks a bit out of it on ratings but you can never write off Richard Hannon’s two-year-olds and maybe we can sneak some Black Type.
Bedazzled is in good nick and stays well so this mile and a half fillies’ handicap looks a great opportunity. She had been quite a buzzy filly and has run in a hood the last three runs. The hood’s off now though, as it’s made her go the other way and she’s become a little lethargic now!
Aiming for top spot at Newmarket on Saturday
I’m excited about riding Jadesnumberone for the guv’nor (Michael Bell) in the Listed fillies’ race at Newmarket on Saturday. She was second over course and distance on her only start last month, and while she was 50-1, her run didn’t surprise anyone at home. She’s the type of filly who does just enough at home, so hopefully is saving a bit for the track. She could be decent.
This will be my penultimate blog, so make sure you don’t miss next week, when I’ll be looking back on what I think’s been a decent enough season for me.
Congratulations must go out to Amy Ryan, as it looks like she is going to win the apprentice jockeys’ title this year.
I think she’s got a lead that sews it up for her as the season only goes on until Doncaster on November 10 – it’s brilliant she’s won.
The problem for me is that she has been riding so well that she leads me in the Prolinx Lady Jockeys’ Championship.
The Championship is awarded on strike-rate, which makes it very exciting and takes it down to the wire.
To be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar until my agent gently reminded me the other day that I was within striking distance. I’m fiercely competitive so I think I’ll give it a good go, especially as I’ve got a nice long layoff due to my operation afterwards but realistically what more can I do than I’m already doing now?
I was at Newmarket on Thursday for the juvenile card and it was good to win on Shrewd in the last. It was the horse’s first time over that trip and he stayed well so an exciting prospect for next year.
When the ground is that soft at Newmarket there is no strong bias and it’s just a case of finding the fresher ground. The website boys have put together all of the juvenile races for you, and there could be a fair few winners that come out of that card.
The biggest fish in the pond
There has been a lot of talk about Championships recently with Frankie Dettori joining the freelance ranks but I think chat about next year’s title is a bit premature. It is good to see he means business next year, despite the recent split with Godolphin, but that means even more competition amongst the jockeys. There are a lot of fish in the pond and he’s the biggest!
Talking of Godolphin, they look in a good position, as far as their horses are concerned, for next year. I was up against one of theirs a few weeks ago and he looked seriously good. I was riding a decent horse called George Cinq at Kempton and Silvestre De Sousa goes and breaks the juvenile course record on Tamarkuz. The horse was wide the whole way around and he finished six lengths ahead of me and the horse looks very smart.
I was sad to see my friend Chantal Sutherland quit the saddle this week. I have grown very fond of her having ridden together a bit over the last few years. The news didn’t surprise me, really. She’s done amazingly well and is settled and married now. Let’s face it, that modelling malarkey is right up her street and is much more straightforward than the racing game. I see that my video interview of her is the most watched on the Racing UK website!
You wouldn’t think that one of my highlights of the last couple of months would come at Salisbury on a Monday, but The Betchworth Kid’s handicap win was really satisfying.
Remember November for the Kid
He’s a horse I’ve ridden 19 times and this was my fourth win on him so I get on well with him and he seems to be back to somewhere near his best.
He’s back with Michael Bell now, after a couple of seasons with Alan King, and I think the change of scenery has certainly perked him up.
He’d shown a lot of promise going into the race, so we were hoping he’d bounce back and he won very impressively in the end. Fingers crossed he gets into the November Handicap on the back of it. If he does, he should have a great chance.
Declaring short of my century
As it stands I am on 82 winners for the year, but I can’t see myself reaching a century as I’m having an ankle operation as soon as the season finishes. I rode 100 winners in a year back in 2008 so I have ticked that box and I believe getting the operation out of the way as quickly as possible is the sensible thing to do.
That means I won’t be riding again this year and I’ll probably be looking at returning in February. It’s not a serious procedure. I’m having the screws taken out following my break last year, and there’s also a little chip that needs removing.
It hasn’t affected my riding in any way, but the whole operation last year didn’t go completely smoothly, so this should put me right.
It means I will be totally refreshed for next season and 100% fit and ready to go. I’ll have had over 800 rides this year and it has been non-stop. My agent and I always have to be very conscious of the BHA rule that I can’t ride at more than nine meetings in a week.
Obviously evening racing as such has finished, but the all-weather evening racing doesn’t stop and I’ve been just as busy to be honest. For what it’s worth I am not a fan of the BHA rule, which is there to protect jockeys from burn-out. We’re self-employed and shouldn’t have any restrictions placed on when and where we can work.
We’re sensible people, and we’ll often take it in turns driving and know our limits and what we’re capable of.
Cirrus to get close, but not close enough
It’s a shame I won’t be at QIPCO British Champions Day, but I’ll be watching on the TV and hoping that Frankel can sign off in style. I think he might have his hardest race yet against Cirrus Des Aigles.
Soft ground often narrows the gap between horses. I was well beaten on Wigmore Hall when Cirrus thrashed us all on heavy at Longchamp in May and his win last time also came on heavy so he’s clearly very effective in those conditions which are forecast for Ascot.
It should be another cracker and it’s great to see the fixture’s a sell-out and has been so well received. It’s funny to think how there were so many doubters when the fixture was first announced. Where are they now???
It’s not often you get off a really fresh horse at this time of year, but that’s how Bronze Angel felt when I rode him on Thursday morning.
He came out of his Cambridgeshire win really well and is absolutely thriving. A win in one of the biggest handicaps of the year should hopefully mean he’s capable of winning a Group race, and he’s got his chance in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The break between Royal Ascot and a fortnight ago means he should have more in the locker than most horses. He won over the course and distance last time and I am very hopeful of a big run. I have one concern and that’s the rain. Good to soft is okay but any softer and it could well count against him.
Don’t miss Decoy
I’ve had a look through his form and he’s only run on the Flat in France, including when third to Cirrus Des Aigles. He’s got some really solid Jumps form and has been running during the summer so will be very fit and this trip will be right up his street.
There are 36 runners though and I can’t imagine anyone’s over confident going into the race, but I’m certainly happy with my ride.
I’ve got one for Marcus Tregoning at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening that’s worth mentioning. Lulla has her first run for more than a year in the five-furlong handicap, and, like all of Marcus’ horses at the moment, she’s been kept fresh and will raring to go.
Contrasting title races
I’m keeping one eye on Amy Ryan’s results at the moment. I think she’s one ahead in the apprentice title race and is going all out to make history.
I shared the title with Saleem Golam a few years back now and I will be more pleased than anyone if she can become the first woman to claim the championship outright. I really get on with her and see a lot of similarities to me in her.
As for the jockeys’ title itself, I couldn’t be happier to see Hughesie (Richard Hughes) land his first title after all those seconds. He’s one of the most chilled out people in the weighing room, but looks even more relaxed now and is carrying a permanent smile. He’s a very funny guy and I think he’s a very popular winner. Well done Hughesie!
Have a good weekend!