11th April 2018

Awesome Milansbar ready to take on the Grand National fences

We went up to Lambourn last Thursday to school over the Grand National-style fences and it was the second time I’ve sat on Milansbar. It was really nice just sitting back on him again and getting to know what he likes. His heart is in jumping and he saw those fences and came alive. He jumped awesome. He knows his limits. He knows how long he can go and how short he can in a matter of metres. There’s a saying that horses dance underneath the boards and that’s exactly what he does. Within a matter of metres he's gone from a long stride to shortening his stride so that he doesn't hit the fence. It shows how much intelligence he has.

If he was a human he’d be like a gentleman who’s suited and he’d say: “Oh hello young man, how are you.” He’d be really, really tall, in his lovely suit, and he’d be very intelligent. He’d definitely have a Masters degree. He’d be the sort of gentleman who’d have his chair at the end of the table and if you’re sat in it you’d be kicked out and he’d always have his whisky at 6pm but when he goes to work he’s the hardest working person - the first one there and the last to leave. If I can find anything of the horse I had at Warwick in January, and we have a safe ride round and stay out of danger, why not?

The fences at Lambourn are really good replicas. They’ve built them wide but they are not at maximum height. Its somewhere different for them to school and it gives them an opportunity to see what its like going over the birch where they might kick a bit out, which doesn’t happen with normal fences. They won’t get as much as a shock when they get to Aintree, and jump those different fences.

You have to ride them the same and ideally you want a horse that is a little bit tentative, as you’d rather he gets into the boards and climbs up over as they are a lot wider and the drops are a lot steeper.

It does feel like you are delayed in the air, and you pray to god he has his landing gear out, and he’s prepared for the ground. At the end of the day, his mechanics are very complicated and he has a lot of weight coming down on that leg and you’re hoping the drop doesn’t catch him out. That’s where the older horse, who has more experience, is at an advantage.

Apart from Lambourn, I’ve been mucking out as usual, having a few rides here and there, but it’s gone a bit quiet because of the rain. It feels like we are suspended in time and we've been twiddling our thumbs quite a bit. Mucking out has taken centre stage at the moment!

Last Tuesday, I was talking to a young boy called Freddie Fletcher who has been really poorly. He went to the Isle of Wight recently where my brother Hadden was riding in the Isle of Wight National, bareback and bitless jumping over hedges. Freddie went over to raise money for Redcliffe Hospital in Oxford as they have helped him so much in the past and he’s there again as he’s become very ill. His mum’s friend managed to track me down and asked if I could give him a call. I got a hello and then he went very quiet for the next five minutes! I am no where near as brave as he is but I can relate to the fact that in hospital the fish tank is the highlight of the day and ham sandwiches are the best thing to eat. I said if ever he is bored to give me a text and hopefully we are keeping him afloat, as I know all he wants to do is go out and ride his pony. I know how he feels as I’ve been there.

It’s my birthday today (Fri 13). I’d be stuffed if I was superstitious. I am at Aintree and we’ll try to get a good night’s sleep. Roll on tomorrow!