With no racing on, this week we are counting down the top 5 horses I’ve been lucky enough to ride over the years!
5. RIPP ORF
Trained by David Elsworth, who has been a brilliant trainer of both flat and jumps horses over the years, I won the Victoria Cup on Ripp Orf a couple of years ago at Ascot. He’s such a fun horse to ride! He’s a big, strong horse and everything has to go right for him to win. He loves a big field as they tend to go a bit too quickly, meaning you can sit patiently on him and wait for the gaps to appear. Ascot has always played to his strengths as it’s a stiff seven furlongs and he stays that trip well, whilst also having plenty of speed. That day at Ascot, I rode him quietly out the back before weaving my way through the field to get his head up right on the line! Those are always the most satisfying rides!
4. THANKS BE
Thanks Be was a hugely significant winner for me as she won the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot last year for Charlie Fellowes. I only actually sat on her once and that was on the day at Royal Ascot! She was 20/1 that day which meant there wasn’t huge pressure on the day. I managed to get a good position coming out of the stalls behind the favourite and everything fell perfectly through the race; the gaps came when I needed them and she won with a bit in hand! She is only very small but she only had a featherweight of eight stone on her back so it was well worth the time I spent in the sauna beforehand to get down to that weight! To ride a winner at the Royal meeting was so special, it’s like what the Cheltenham Festival is for the National Hunt jockeys and is so competitive. To have a winner there on my CV was the best feeling.
3. I’M A DREAMER
I’m A Dreamer won the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes for me over in the USA at Arlington which was incredibly surreal. I was actually over there to ride Wigmore Hall for Michael Bell and it was a fortunate spare ride to pick up from David Simock and the owners! In the race itself, she was incredibly tough and really stuck her neck out for me. It’s not very often you pop over the Atlantic and ride a Grade 1 winner and collect nearly £300,000 in prize money in the process, but that’s what we did! It was a brilliant training performance by David Simcock.
2. MARGOT DID
My Group 1 Nunthorpe at York’s Ebor meeting was a very special win for me. To ride a Group 1 for Michael Bell who has both been such a loyal supporter of mine meant a huge amount. I’m actually closing in on 200 winners for him now, I think I’m 6 away on 194! I finished 2nd on Margot Did in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot as a 2 year old so I knew she had the class in her, but it was all about everything falling right for her. She wasn’t quite seeing out six furlong so this fast run race over five furlongs really suited her down to the ground. The owners persevered with me throughout her career before the race despite many close calls, many owners would have tried other jockeys but they stuck by me! In the race itself, she was the dream ride – she travelled supremely well for so long and quickened from the front to win quite comfortably!
1. DREAM AHEAD
I remember finding out I had got the ride on Dream Ahead in the July Cup when I was in Superdrug paying for an item! When my agent called me and told me that I’d got the ride on him, I shouted “Yes!” really loudly so then had to explain to all the old ladies in the shop around me that I had got a ride in the July Cup to which they replied: “Ooh good luck, dear!”. This was only two days before the race and so he was another horse that I had never sat on prior to the race. In the race itself, we didn’t get a clear run but I never panicked. I could feel how much horse I had underneath me. David Simcok (trainer) is very laid back which then transferred to my riding and he gave me the confidence on Dream Ahead that he was the best horse in the race. It was very special to be able to win a Group 1 at my local track, particularly since my friends were there on the day. As luck had it, I wasn’t riding on Saturday evening or on Sunday so my friends organised a night out. You couldn’t have scripted the day any better and it will forever live long in the memory!