21st April 2017

Racing, football and the Scottish Grand National

It’s been a really busy week, and the weekend is looking likewise which is great. Hopefully it will be as good as last Saturday when I rode a couple of winners at Newton Abbot which is always nice!

Moorlands Jack won on his return for Jeremy Scott, which was lovely for all his connections and Fox Appeal won the feature race – the Frank Loosemoore Memorial Handicap Chase - for Emma Lavelle. He’s a class horse on his day and it was nice to win a good pot at a local track that puts on some great racing over the summer.

Meetings have been held up and down the country and there’s a big weekend ahead. Today it’s Fontwell for me where I’m on Shimba Hills for Lawney Hill in the Road Plate Hire Handicap Hurdle. He’s won a couple this season and hopefully he’ll go close today.

Alcala goes in the Neil Madgewick Memorial Handicap Chase and hopefully his Ludlow win on Tuesday won’t have taken too much out of him.

Mark Bradstock saddles Plantagenet in the Salisbury Hardwood Flooring Ltd Handicap Hurdle. He ran well at Kempton earlier this month to finish second in a two miles handicap hurdle and is a couple of pounds higher today.

On Saturday I’ll fly up to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National where I ride Dancing Shadow for Victor Dartnall. He’s been trained for the race and if he brings his Musselburgh form he has a massive chance. He’ll love the ground and the trip is right. Hopefully the ten hour journey in the lorry will be worthwhile. A few years I won the Scottish Champion Hurdle for Michael Hurdle on Border Castle and it’s a great meeting with a really good atmosphere.

It hasn’t all been racing. On Wednesday night I played in a charity football match for the Injured Jockeys Fund. I haven’t kicked a ball since I left school nine years ago, but I put the jersey on in the JP McManus colours and played against the Cheltenham Legends who are all ex-professional footballers. Their goalie was the Pie Man, Wayne Shaw, who famously ate a pie when he was on the bench and was subsequently dismissed by his team Sutton United! AP McCoy was team captain, and the players included Dave Bass, Sam Twiston-Davies, Charlie Poste and Jamie Balgary who scored two goals. We gave our opponents a good run for their money. There were a few penalty shootouts at half time and Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill were among the trainers who took part in that with Alex Hammond, the Sky Sports presenter, the winner. The crowd was excellent and the event raised £15,000. It was the first time I’ve played in a stadium so there was plenty of pressure but luckily I got subbed as football fitness is entirely different to race fitness!

There’s racing at Exeter on Tuesday where its all hurdle bumper card, and clerk of the course Barry Johnson is hopeful of producing good ground with plenty of water being applied.