Nice to hit the ground running after thaw
It has been some relief to finally get back racing this week. I think most jockeys were beginning to display withdrawal symptoms by the time Cork finally got the show on the road on Sunday, and I know I was definitely suffering from cabin fever.
At least I managed to make it into Willie Mullins' to ride out every morning. That just about kept me going.
All hands were needed to cover the gallops and clear the snow, so everyone rowed in and we succeeded in getting the horses out every day. It was hard work, but this week's results have made it all worthwhile.
Bishopsfurze, my first ride back in the maiden hurdle at Mallow on Sunday, won easily enough. It was nice to hit the ground running. We'd been off for over two weeks, but it felt like a lot longer, and I was anxious to get one on the board as quickly as I could.
Sicilian Secret and Dare To Doubt both finished second in their maidens then on Monday. We fancied them to go close, but they'll come on for their runs and I'd say they were both beaten by above-average horses, too.
Sadly, Punchestown didn't thaw out in time for Tuesday. The John Durkan Memorial Chase, along with the O'Connell Group Hilly Way Chase, was switched to Fairyhouse's card on Wednesday instead. That made for a busy day.
I rode three winners for Willie, and Mikael D'Haguenet was in with a chance when he fell at the last in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase. He had done nothing wrong until then and he didn't deserve to fall, so we'll take a lot from the race.
Having been off for so long, he raced a bit freshly, but his jumping was brilliant and he carried me everywhere. Jessies Dream wouldn't have stopped, so I don't know what the outcome would have been if we had stood up, but we'd certainly have put it up to him. It was just one of those things.
Zaidpour had gotten the day off to the perfect start in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. When you see that horses like Dunguib and Hurricane Fly had won the last two renewals, this year's race was probably more of a winners-of-one than a Grade One, but he still did it brilliantly. He couldn't do any more than that.
Hurricane Fly doubled up for me in the Hatton's Grace. He is a proper terrier. You could see from the way he put his head down after the last how much he wanted to win. He has really matured into a proper professional now, so hopefully he'll enjoy a clean run of things this season.
Then Golden Silver completed a fine day's work in the Hilly Way.
Having been off with the snow, it was good to see the horses do it, especially in the Grade Ones.
Zaidpour and Hurricane Fly were our first winners at that level this season. Because you can only do so much with them at home, you're never sure where you stand until they go into battle, so it was a bit of a relief. With Ruby Walsh out for another couple of months, hopefully I'll be able to make the most of the opportunities I get from Willie over Christmas.
It is unfortunate for Ruby -- he has had a few bad knocks close together -- but that's the game we are in.
Once the weather doesn't intervene, this is a busy time of the year, so I'm glad to be able to focus on some good rides in big races over the next couple of weeks. That's what it's all about.
Unfortunately, it was back to reality at Clonmel yesterday, where a second on Cadspeed in the beginners' chase was the best I managed.
Having not run since April, he will come on for the run, and he jumped super. Torphichen was too good on the day, but that one had put it up to Quel Esprit at Limerick, so we were happy enough.
Today I'm bound for Downpatrick for one ride for Willie. It's a long way to go for one spin, but Wee Giant won his maiden around there in September and we think he is a nice horse. He should go close.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie