Thursday 23 November 2017

Ascot memories to be treasured

When Scots Gaelic won at Fairyhouse at the beginning of the month, the first thing Pat Flynn asked me when I got off him was if he would stay two and a half miles. When I told him that he would, his face lit up. The horse's owner, Alan Macalister, was planning on travelling to Royal Ascot from his home in Australia and Pat knew what it would mean to him to have a runner.

Once Pat heard from me that he would get the trip, Tuesday's Ascot Stakes was always going to be his target, and Scots Gaelic ran a blinder to finish fourth.

Alan was thrilled just to have a runner there, never mind be placed. What's more, by the number of calls and texts I received afterwards, all of my friends and family had a few bob on each-way at 40/1.

Ascot is some place to ride. When you walk in there, you just think, 'wow, this is what it is all about'. You canter down to the start, pass three furlongs of a packed grandstand, and the atmosphere is just unbelievable.

Of course, Frankel was there, too, and I was amazed to hear so many of my cross-channel colleagues admit that they had never seen him in the flesh.

He is an awesome horse and I made it a priority to view him in the parade ring. Although shorter and stockier than he appears on television, he really has proved himself one of the all-time greats, so it was nice to see him for real at least once.

Dawn Approach and Simenon got the ball rolling for the Irish and it has continued to be an excellent week for the raiders. Scots Gaelic couldn't quite keep tabs with Simenon, but his effort confirmed that Pat's team are flying.

Last week, Faleena scored at Navan, Topadee won at Limerick last Saturday and Chois The Idea maintained his progress by winning for a second time in a row at Cork the next day.

With fewer horses in training now, outside rides are hard to come by, so to be associated with a stable that has winners on a regular basis is vital.

And I don't think I've ever ridden as well as I am riding now. I will turn 34 next month, but I still bounce out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning because I love what I do.

Custom Cut, the second leg of my double at Cork last Sunday, was my first winner for a handler other than Pat this year and that's just a sign of the times. Even he couldn't be classed as a spare, though, as his trainer George Kent is another loyal supporter for whom I ride out for regularly in Tramore.

Friend

In between races at Cork, I tried to watch as much of the Waterford-Clare hurling game as I could. John Mullane is an old friend from our school days in De La Salle and we still keep in touch. When I spoke to him on the Sunday morning, he was confident they would do the job.

John is often portrayed as a bit of a hard man, but I'll never forget the time he came to the yard with the Munster trophy. Pat wanted to get a photo of him alongside one of the horses, but John was afraid of his life to go near it. As I like to remind him, he didn't look so hard then!

Tonight, Topadee returns to Limerick. Two days ago, I felt he would take plenty beating, but all the rain that has fallen in the meantime won't help his cause.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent

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