Grand National runners jumping the water jump

17th April 2015

Aintree deserve plenty of plaudits for superb Grand National

There are so many superlatives that Aintree deserves following this year’s Grand National. There is a lot of pressure in the build up to the race, not least from those who would rather see it banned, and this year’s renewal was a triumph for everyone involved.

It’s a high-risk race, watched by millions of people but with all the horses and jockeys coming back safe it puts the sport in such a good light.

I had a great ride around on Spring Heeled who jumped immaculately. He found the whole build-up quite stressful and I think he’d be happier in a smaller field, but to complete again and finish 14th was brilliant.

Aintree deserves a lot of credit and from a jockey’s point of view every single aspect was spot on. They have done a fantastic job with the safety measures that have made the fences more horse friendly while still ensuring that the spectacle and drama of the race haven’t been taken away. It really is like no other race you can ride in with so many imponderables and the result this year was great for the sport.

When I got back home I watched all the Channel 4 Racing coverage and it too deserves an awful lot of praise. Nick Luck was superb as the anchorman. He was brilliant too the night before the race on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man. Gok Wan and Frankie Dettori were both very good too. I loved the jockey head cams – I wore one in a race – which gave a real insight into what the jockey sees including how quickly the fences come up.

Coverage of the weighing room, the stable staff, various yards gave a real insight into the sport and how much the race and the horses mean to us.

On the Friday night, a few of us jockeys went to Alderhay Hospital, including AP McCoy, Richard Johnson and Tom Scudamore, to visit the children and talk to them about the Grand National. When you are racing you can get really upset when you get beaten, but meeting the children, their parents and carers puts it all in perspective and makes you realise how important your health is.

Today I am at Southwell riding a horse for Michael Blake. He’s called Rocky Rebel and won a seller at Exeter last time and I think he has a chance. On Saturday, I head to Scotland for the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr where I ride Irving. He has top weight but I think he has a chance, as he wasn’t quite right on his last two races. He isn’t the easiest to train, hence he missed Cheltenham and Aintree, but I schooled him on Monday and he felt good.

I’ve won the race before on a nice horse called Border Castle for Andy Haynes at 40-1. What a dude he was!

It was great to get a winner at Exeter on Tuesday on Tom Neary who goes back again this Tuesday. He’s a half brother to Hunt Ball, and Robert Walford is a really nice trainer to ride for. Hopefully we can score again.