What has been a good season so far continued nicely during the past week, and to have a big winner at Leopardstown and a Grade 2 at Limerick on what look to be nice horses was brilliant.
That brings my tally in Ireland to 24 winners for the season and I am very grateful to the owners and trainers that have put me up.
Eight of those winners have been for Gordon Elliott, and three each for John Kiely and Noel Meade, all trainers I have had a long relationship with. Riding winners for ten other trainers is a testament to the work of my agent Garry Cribbin.
I am with Garry since last February and it’s been an absolute revelation. It’s been a great move for my career. He’s freshened up things a bit. I’m working hard, as I always did, it’s just I’ve a man on my side and he’s working hard for me. People are believing again. It’s great and I’m happy. I just want to get on as many winners as I can.
It’s fierce hard to get on Grade 1 horses in Ireland. When you get on them, you need to win on them and you need everything to go right on the day.
It was great to have such good rides in the big Grade 1 races at Leopardstown during the week. The Storyteller ran a brilliant race to be second in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle. His form ties in very closely with Sire Du Berlais so that didn’t come as a surprise. He’s a Grade 1 winner over fences and enjoys the softer ground. He proved beyond doubt that he is a Grade 1 operator over hurdles too. He has been fantastic all season and you don’t worry about him having been out earlier than most of the Grade 1 horses. Gordon Elliott is a masterful trainer and he doesn’t run them if they don’t have a chance.
Presenting Percy was very disappointing though in the Savills Chase. I had sat on him during the week and he felt great. I couldn’t have been more confident going into the race but he just didn’t turn up which was a pity given it was probably the best Savills Chase we’ve ever seen.
That’s the way these Grade 1s go. Different things can happen that mightn’t suit some. Some might not be at their best. You need a lot of things to go your way.
It was a super performance by Grand Roi to win the Grade 2 Grant Thornton Hurdle. He’s only four going on five. I definitely wanted to make the running and be on the rail. He jumped super. I watched the way he jumped in Warwick and he was brilliant to jump. His run in Galway was good over two mile five. Coming back in trip in that ground was a great bit of placing by Gordon Elliott and a lovely pot to win for the Morans. He was an expensive purchase but a lovely horse to have.
His jumping was superb on that ground. He travelled beautifully and has the makings of a very nice horse. I reckoned he ran better than the form suggested in Galway and coming back to two miles at Limerick, we could pop him out and use his jumping.
French Aseel did it very easily in the juvenile hurdle last Sunday for the Holdens. Ellmarie was very confident before the race that she had the horse though she was just a little concerned whether he would settle. He was strong for a bit but I was able to manage him.
His jumping was superb. He travelled through the race like a real good horse and he quickened up like a real class horse. He hit the line fierce strong. I didn’t get into him at all and he quickened up real well. The ground was soft and he’d obviously handle that from the flat in France. He was a mile winner on the flat in France. He’s a very good horse. I think he’s very exciting going forward.
He’ll be up in class now where they’ll go a stronger gallop and there won’t be a bother on him. He’s a lovely, straightforward, uncomplicated kind of ride. You’d like to think that they’d be going on a stride quicker from now on in these races. I just said to Ellmarie coming in, maybe the Dublin Racing Festival. That’s a target if they wanted to take it up. He’s just a lovely horse and I’m delighted to get the ride on him. It’s nice to ride a really nice horse.
It was the first time I sat on him but I was down to ride him in Cork and they were confident before the race there. I spoke to Derek O’Connor and he’d done a bit of schooling on him. He was very confident that he’d jump well. He didn’t run on the day and it’s worked out. I’m just delighted to be getting a winner at Leopardstown at Christmas time to be honest and to follow up with a Grade 2 was great.
It would have been nice to add a Grade 1 too but I’ll keep working hard, as I have always done, and hopefully the opportunities will keep coming.