I’ve always felt that Chepstow’s two-day Festival this week really marks the start of the jumps season in the UK. That’s when you know that the big operators are bringing their winter horses to the races and all their hope and dreams for the season are ahead of them.
I find it very exciting.
I’ll be riding a filly for my mum, called Sparky Valentine on Friday 17.35 in a 2m 3f novice hurdle. She ran twice in bumpers last year, where she finished third on debut at Newbury before finding a Listed hurdle a bit too much of a step up in grade at Doncaster last January.
The ground was quite quick that day and the race was full of Flat horses who were going jumping. Sparky Valentine didn’t jump particularly well and lost a lot of ground at the hurdles. I just looked after her then to be honest as she’s a nice mare who’ll appreciate softer going.
She should at least get that at Chepstow on Friday, so we’ll have a better idea of where we stand then.
Funnily enough, she was a wedding present to me and my husband Ed, as a brood mare after she finishes her racing career. We’ll be keeping her for breeding when that happens, so hopefully she’ll do well on the track also.
We’ve had our first few runners and things have been going really well. Nick (Williams) had his first winner of the season with Aimee De Sivola last Friday at Warwick, so we’ll hopefully build on that over the next few months.
I’m lucky that I’m in a unique position where I don’t have to have very many rides compared to other jockeys. With all the work at home for my mum and Nick, I’ll take about 100 mounts a year, maximum.
Quality over quantity
However, it’s the quality of the horse that I ride that makes me able to go to big meetings and ride big winners like Siruh Du Lac who capped off a brilliant season by winning at the Cheltenham Festival last term. To be honest, I 100 per cent wouldn’t want anything like that to change.
I would take 50 rides a season if it meant winning another Grade One race.
Don’t get me wrong, I love race-riding and I absolutely love my job, but I’m blessed to be in this position that I don’t have to take rides for the sake of it.
Every time I’m on the racecourse, I know I’m riding something nice or will be nice in the future. It’s all about potential. I’m not looking for more rides in order to get more winners. It’s the quality over the quantity that matters most to me.
And hopefully things will continue to progress this season the way that they have been going.