I could have a good National ride on my hands
8 April 2017
I got the call late last night that I would be replacing Liam Treadwell aboard Tenor Nivernais in the Randox Health Grand National.
Liam was injured in the Topham yesterday, but he seems OK and should be out of hospital this morning.
They are not the best set of circumstances to pick up a ride, especially as Liam's a good friend but it's obviously great to now be part of the race.
I was originally due to be ride Pendra, who I rode last year to finish 13th, but unfortunately he had a little niggle and got pulled out.
So I am now on Tenor Nivernais, who looks one of the best handicapped horses in the race. He won by 30 lengths at Ascot after the weights came out. I was second on Go Conquer that day and I was very impressed with the winner. I then rode Tenor at Kelso, when he didn't fire, and I think the race came too soon after Ascot.
I don't see why he won't take to the fences and if we see the Ascot horse, rather than the Kelso horse, I could have a good ride on my hands.
Otherwise I like the look of More Of That. You need a class horse to win the National in my eyes. I don’t think you can win it with a run-of-the-mill handicapper these days and More Of That has done it at the very highest level, having won the World Hurdle three years ago.
I’ve ridden him twice this season, including last time when sixth in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. He ran a nice race at Cheltenham; he stayed on and I’d be hopeful he will last the trip.
The Grand National is a magical race. I loved to watch it when I was young. All the thrills, spills and drama drew me in. Everyone in Ireland watches the Grand National. When you want to be a Jumps jockey as a kid, then you do start to dream about riding in the National.
I completed on my first and last rides, but in between didn’t go as well. They’re a lot of letters against my name!
I remember my first ride on Mon Mome and Brian Harding talked me around during the race and I ended up finishing 10th. I loved the whole experience.
Then the following year I picked the wrong one when Mon Mome won. It was somewhat frustrating at the time but now that I am older and hopefully a bit wiser who knows how I would have got on.
The way the National goes, you run it 10 or 12 times, you’ll get 10 or 12 different results. And I was delighted for Liam, and obviously Venetia Williams and everyone at the yard.
As for tactics, I like to go down the middle so you have options of switching in and out, but that said you have to ride your horse the way it likes to be ridden and ideally you’d like a horse to be ridden up there.
There are tactics involved but obviously they are very much subject to change as everything doesn’t always go your way.
It can be quite tense in the weighing room before but it’s also fun as no one goes out there thinking they are going to win the National, given so much can go wrong.
I’ve got three other rides on Saturday, kicking off with Forthefunofit in the Gaskells Handicap Hurdle. He’s really appreciated going back over hurdles after a spell over fences and he's won his last two. This is big step up but he’s earned the right to be there and he will have a fair chance.
Chelsea Flyer runs in the Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle. I rode him to win at Doncaster last time and Emma Lavelle has kept him back for this race. He has a bit to find on form but I’m looking forward to finding out whether he’s up this level. He’s very straightforward and a very, very nice horse.
Taquin Du Seuil runs in the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle. He ran a cracking race at the Festival to finish second in the Coral Cup and clearly liked being back over hurdles. He seems equally at home over both, having earlier in the season won the BetVictor Gold Cup at The Open.
He might have a bit to find on form figures, but he does have that touch of class and is in great form. He’s an interesting one.