Tuesday 23 January 2018

Happy Days grabbing my chance

Life as a Flat jockey is fiercely competitive in this country, so decent opportunities need to be grasped with both hands. Wayne Lordan, who is first in line at David Wachman's and Tommy Stack's, was on duty in France on Sunday, which left me to fill in on David's Cougar Ridge and Duntle at Leopardstown. Two proper rides at a proper meeting.

Cougar Ridge is a fine big two-year-old that overcame a bit of greenness to win quite impressively on his debut. David has a lovely team of youngsters this year, and you'd hope this fellow will at least prove up to Listed level.

Duntle was a brave fourth on just her third start in the 1,000 Guineas Trial, having made most of the running. In the end, inexperience found her out inside the distance, but she is a top-class prospect that will be a lot better for the outing.

It was a satisfactory day's work. Having got injured late last season, until recently I hadn't ridden a winner for David since July, so I was beginning to get a bit frustrated.

Then, Oh Happy Days, which Wayne rides at Dundalk tonight, won for me at Gowran Park a couple of weeks ago, and all of a sudden our luck changed.

Cougar Ridge was my third successive winning ride for him, so things have turned at the right time, and riding a few smart Coolmore-owned horses like that can only be good for my profile.

Monday is a morning I tend not to ride out at either David's or Mr Stack's. However, I have a couple of youngsters on the go at my home place in Ballingarry, where my sister Susan Finn trains and my other sister Jennifer keeps point-to-pointers.


Since I was a kid, I've always loved going pointing on Sundays in the winter. I enjoy watching out for future stars, and keeping a few breakers on the go is a nice sideline.

Moreover, on the days that I am not racing, it is a way of keeping active, which helps with my weight. At 5' 8'', the scales are a constant battle for me. I have to sweat to do anything under 9st, but I try not to sweat on the days that I don't have a ride.

On Tuesday, Wayne and I were on work-riding duties in Mr Stack's. I often joke that, for five mornings each week, my brief is to be Wayne's lead jockey on the gallops, and it felt like I was giving him a tow at Killarney on Tuesday as well.

I made all the running there on Mr Stack's Kedleston, only for Wayne to mug me on the line with his stablemate Croi An Or. There was only a nose in it and my fellow had run a blinder at a big price, but normal service was certainly resumed!

Joking aside, I'm lucky to be involved with two such successful stables and, as I say, it is up to me to take the chances when they come my way. To that end, with Wayne sitting out a suspension on Wednesday, I was again on duty for David at Naas.

Although Aloof had an off-day in the Group Three, Mironica was another nice two-year-old to oblige first time up, beating her Seamie Heffernan-ridden stablemate True Verdict into second.

After riding out for David that morning, Seamie was good enough to let me use his sauna for a sweat, and then gave me a lift to the races.

Grateful and all as I was, Mironica was the horse we fancied, so I was anxious to come out on the right side of that one.

My sixth winner of the season, it left me ninth on the jockeys' table, and if I can maintain that sort of position I'd be delighted.

Over the next few years, I'd love to establish myself as a top-10 rider. It won't be easy, given the standard here, but I'll take it one day at a time and see what happens.

The show moves on to Dundalk tonight, where I have three spins. Atmospheric High, Eddie Lynam's course regular, could be the pick of my lot.

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

Irish Independent

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