Time has come to strike right festival notes
The early risers among you may have already enjoyed the pleasure of seeing me on television this morning. As part of a promotional push for the charity single 'Cheltenham', which was released today, Davy Russell and I are due to appear on TV3's Ireland AM.
It will be my first time performing live as an artist, but Laura Critchley, who is on lead vocals, has won a lot of singing awards already. Russell and myself will be doing the backing for the chorus; with support like that, Laura should be fine.
Truth be told, this foray into the music business is a new venture for all of the racing people involved, and we've had great sport getting to this point. The recording in Dublin in February was especially memorable for Tom Taaffe's brutal contribution.
Paul Nolan was standing beside him during the session. As we were all instructed, Paul had taken the earphones off his left ear during the recital, but he had to switch ears as soon as Tom, who was on his left, started to grow in voice.
In the end, I suspect the sound technicians may have had to dub Tom out of the final cut, as the intention is to try and sell as many units of the single as possible.
The earlier part of the week was far less rock 'n' roll, revolving around putting the finishing touches to a few of my intended mounts for the festival next week. On Tuesday, although the frost kept us off the gallops on the Curragh until 12 o'clock, I rode work on Bostons Angel for Jessica Harrington. He did a really nice piece and now heads for the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle. I actually think he could be a bit of a dark horse for the race. There are only three horses rated higher than him in it, so he shouldn't be far away.
The following morning, I rode four lots at Jessie's yard, and gave Summit Meeting his last school before the Neptune Investment Novice Hurdle on Wednesday. He jumped well over 10 hurdles, so that was encouraging too.
All told, I reckon I'll travel over on Sunday night with as good a book of rides as I've ever had to look forward to at Cheltenham. On the first day, I ride Silver Birch in the cross-country race and No One Tells me in the mares' race. Both have decent chances, and Silver Birch, which I won the Aintree Grand National on three years ago, won't know himself with just 10st 3lb on his back. He worked impressively after racing at Leopardstown last week and loves the cross-country races, so I'm hoping he'll run a big race.
I'm also booked for two others, Michael Halford's Shanrod in the Fred Winter and Dermot Weld's Prince Erik in the Pertemps.
With a bit of luck, something might oblige for me before the close of business on Friday. I have yet to ride a winner at the festival, but I finished in the first four on each of my three rides at the meeting last year -- including a second to Cooldine on Horner Woods -- so it would be nice to make the breakthrough.
As ever at this time of year, Cheltenham seems to occupy every waking hour, and I had quite a few waking hours as a result of my latest preview night in Omagh on Wednesday. We didn't finish until one o'clock in the morning, which meant that I didn't get home until four -- and I had to be in Jessie's to ride out for eight o'clock.
Anyway, that was the last preview of the season for me. About 300 people turned up, and Ferdy Murphy, Seamus Durack and Jamie Osborne all travelled over from England to sit on the panel. It was my first time being in the company of Osborne, and I have to say he was super craic.
When the Champion Chase came up for discussion, he didn't mind stirring things up a bit either. He was only too happy to point out to Ferdy Murphy that he knew what a champion chaser looked like having won the race as a jockey and, as far as he is concerned, Kalahari King doesn't so much as vaguely resemble one!
- The charity single can be downloaded from iTunes and 7 digital for a cost of 99c. The song can also be purchased by texting 'music 5271 m' to 57501. It will be available on CD from March 15 from selected HMV stores. For more information about Irish racing check out www.goracing.ie