Sunday 17 December 2017

Quietly confident Story can set me off on festive roll

A New Story is my only ride of the day in the cross-country race at Cheltenham. My first and, so far, only winner at the Festival in March last year, he is rising 14 years of age now.

He is a bit of a rogue, so it's hard to fancy him strongly, but he loves these races and will hopefully be in the shake-up with just 10st 4lb to carry.

While he didn't trouble the judge over hurdles at Gowran Park a couple of weeks ago, the run will have left him spot on for this. At his age, he doesn't do a whole pile at home, so he needed that outing to bring him to peak fitness.

It would be great to ride back into that winner's enclosure again. Once you've had a taste of what a winner at Cheltenham is like, you just want more, though they are never easy to come by.

My father Michael and I keep about eight broodmares at home near Kilworth in Co Cork, and the best horse we've bred was Nick Dundee. He looked sure to win the Sun Alliance Chase for Norman Williamson at Cheltenham in 1999, only to fall three-out.

Still, that's the nature of the game. Breeding horses is something that I was brought up with at home, and it's something I continue to enjoy being involved in.

On Wednesday, I was at the foal sales in Goffs, where I bought a filly by Presenting.

All being well, if her pedigree holds up or improves, I'll put her in foal in three or four years' time. She is a lovely prospect, but racing is not on her agenda at all.

From my own point of view, since returning from five months on the sidelines in November, things have gone well for me on the track. I have ridden four winners, including Cloughmile at Fairyhouse last Sunday.

Everyone is watching on big days like that, so it really helps if you can put yourself in the shop window by riding a winner. If you are winning at the second meeting on a Sunday, you won't get nearly as much publicity, which ultimately does matter.

I've been lucky with the way things have gone since my return, and my boss Michael Hourigan has been very good to me. When you are sidelined for as long as I was, you can't help feeling sick watching other lads win on horses that you should be riding.

You'd be delighted for those involved, but you just wish you were in the saddle. With so much time on your hands, you'd be thinking about it the whole time.


Even when you are back, until you ride a winner, you'd be anxious that one might never come. Michael always said that he'd put me back on the horses, though, and he has been true to his word, as he has been for as long as I've worked for him.

When I first tore the cruciate ligament in my knee in a fall back in January, he, along with the Turf Club's Dr Adrian McGoldrick, was pushing me to get it operated on. I kept putting it off, even though the pain was wicked.

Every time I'd get another fall or stand on a stone or something, the pain was unbearable.

In the end, I got it operated on in May, but I'd exacerbated the damage by then, which is why the rehab took so long. It is a slightly unusual injury for a jockey to get and I probably should have listened to their advice at the time, but such is life.

In this game, you expect to spend time on the sidelines, but I'd love to get a clear run for a spell now. Initially, I had hoped that I might be in the running for the conditional riders' title this term, but the injury pretty much ruined any chance of that.

Maybe I'll have a better cut off it next year. I've three winners left before I get my claim down to three pounds, so achieving that is a realistic target for the time being.

I drew a blank from two spins at Clonmel yesterday, but A New Story has a squeak today, and Michael has some nice entries over the weekend.

With the busy Christmas period just around the corner, it would be really nice to keep the momentum going.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport