Great week to be in top form
Published 17/06/2011 | 05:00
Racing can be a funny old game. I had a slow start to the season, not riding my first winner until the middle of May. Yet, in the space of a month, I have now ridden 11. A feast or famine, as they say!
It's mad when you think about it, but there are times when things just fall your way and times when they don't. Since this day last week, for example, I have ridden at least one winner on five of the six racing days.
I started with a double at Navan, and the last five have won by a neck, a short head, a short head, a head and a head. Another week, each of those might have got beaten.
With Irish Derby weekend coming up next week, this is a great time to be in form. The next few weeks will be our busiest time of the year and when people see that you're riding winners, it gives you an extra opportunity to make the most of a busy period.
As well as that, I have only three winners left before I lose my claim, and it would be nice to reach that milestone on a bit of a run. Once your claim goes, you're a small fish in a big sea.
I'll try to keep improving so that when the time comes, trainers will still be happy to put me up. And with a little luck, I might even give the apprentices' title a rattle.
I finished second to last year's joint-winners Gary Carroll, Ben Curtis and Joseph O'Brien, as well as finishing second to Gary the previous season. All in all, the past few years have gone brilliantly.
I did spend two months sidelined with a broken ankle and collarbone last August, but I still saw out the season strongly when I returned. Winning the title isn't the be all and end all, but I'm close enough to have a cut off it. If it happens, it happens.
Unfortunately, though, I won't be adding to my tally at Limerick this evening as I must sit out a one-day ban. I got done for using the stick down the shoulder in the forehand position on Jessie Harrington's Bob Le Beau at The Curragh recently. It was a bad habit that I had developed. The stewards cautioned me about it a couple of times but I didn't take the hint, so the ban was deserved. Lesson learned now!
Bob Le Beau actually runs in tonight's Listed race at Limerick, and I think he'll nearly win for Fran Berry. The track and trip will be ideal, while his recent second to Viscount Nelson at The Curragh was a fine effort.
I ride Banksters Bonus, another of Jessie's, in the Magners Ulster Derby at Down Royal tomorrow. That's always a competitive race, but Banksters Bonus finished a fair fourth to Laughing in a Listed race last time, so he should be thereabouts.
Other than that, riding plans for Down Royal won't be finalised until today, although Nidian, the horse I won on at Navan on Wednesday, is also in a handicap there.
Away from the track, it has been a typically busy week. I ride out for my boss Mick Halford first thing every morning, before going off to ride work for whoever wants me on The Curragh. The boss is very accommodating that way.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I sat on a few for Jessie, and yesterday Seamus Fahey brought a couple up from Monasterevin. This morning I'll be in with Ken Condon, who has provided three of my winners over the past week.
As well as maintaining those contacts, finding a good horse to ride would make my transition to the senior ranks a lot smoother. However, they are not easy come by.
The horses that have been winning at Royal Ascot all week are the type that can get you noticed, the ones that always come up trumps for you.
Just look at Frankel. To win in the manner he did, having raced for a full five furlongs, was phenomenal. Suffice to say, he really must be every bit as good as he looked in the 2,000 Guineas.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie