I was just lending a hand; I had nothing else to do
14 April 2015
10/10 for Aintree
Aintree had the track in wonderful condition and there were not too many hard luck stories. It was a very good meeting all round. The best horses won all the right races and there were some good performances.
The staff were brilliant on the course and there are a lot of great procedures in place which are working well.
Even when we were standing there at the Canal Turn in the Crabbie’s Grand National, there were already two loose horses in the holding pen. It was the same at the third last in the Topham Chase. There were seven or eight loose horses gathered there.
The National is still a test, but a fair test. Ten out of 10 to the team at Aintree.
Lending a hand
I was having a great ride on Ballycasey in the National. He was jumping like a buck. The early pace was very strong and at the time I was happy to follow the horses I was following. As it turned out, I picked the wrong one in Balthazar King, who brought us down at the Canal Turn first time round. Sometimes your decisions are right, sometimes they’re not.
I was out of the Grand National so had nothing else to do. That’s why I helped with the screen, moving the rails and waving the flag. I was only giving a hand. Many hands make light work.
Clarcam can go further
Stepping up to two and half miles in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase suited Clarcam. He was taken off his feet in the Arkle, but the extra distance here allowed him to find a good rhythm. He jumped like a stag and quickened well.
My horse was pinging his fences and able to dictate. I couldn’t wait to get past Josses Hill. I haven’t been convinced by him and remember he was quite wild at Ascot. He is a little bit erratic and will probably be a better horse next year.
Clarcam has good form in the book. He was a Grade 1 winner at Leopardstown at Christmas and then was second to Un De Sceaux so he was entitled to be thereabouts. He’s only five and gave me the feeling he would stay three miles-plus.
Fire put out at the last
Arctic Fire settled lovely and jumped pretty well in the Aintree Hurdle, although he did make a mistake at the eighth. I was always happy that they would come back to us as they went very quick from a long way out.
I didn’t have to move and wasn’t going to commit and give Jezki something to aim at. I arrived with my chance going to the last flight. We were on the same stride as Jezki, who pinged it, while my horse jumped into it.
That’s racing. You have to jump to win. There’s not a bother on him, he’s 100%, and he will live to fight another day.
There was a good gallop in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle on Saturday, which there wasn’t in the Neptune at Cheltenham. The race was slowly run that day and Nichols Canyon never switched off.
Daryl Jacob wanted to go on on Ballyboley and my horse settled right behind him. He jumped brilliantly and quickened well on the run-in. It was a really good performance.
We have a head-scratcher whether we go up or back in trip now. He has plenty of speed but he’s not short of stamina as he was a two-mile horse on the Flat. It depends how he summers. He won’t be getting any quicker the older he gets, and maybe he will learn to settle better and get further. Willie Mullins won’t be afraid to mix it on the Flat with him either.
All roads lead to Punchestown
Most of our top horses are trained to go to Cheltenham and Punchestown. We did not have a huge string at Aintree.
Un De Sceaux worked really well last Tuesday when the plan was still Aintree. The weather kept getting better last week so we decided he should go for Punchestown.
Faugheen has been been ticking over and is fresh and well. Punchestown has always been the target for him.