Racing UK ambassador Paul Mulrennan pays tribute to Pat Haslam and tragic groom Ken Dooley in his weekly column, gives us the inside track on his rides at Catterick and gives his Champions Day predictions
I wanted to start the column by paying tribute to Patrick Haslam, who gave me my first winner. Of all the trainers I’ve ridden for, Pat was the one I rate above all others.
I was apprentice there for two and a half years. I was young and dumb when I first arrived at his Middleham yard and, at the time, didn’t realise just how good he was.
It didn’t take long though. He was a master of two-year-olds, stayers, jumpers – every horse came alike to him. He would know what a horse would be rated before the handicapper would, and he was always right.
As AP McCoy said this week, if a horse who appeared useless on the Flat was making his jumps debut for Patrick, you would always need to be take note. AP didn’t mind going to Sedgefield for one ride as long as it was for Patrick.
Patrick was hard, but fair and gave me my chance and I’ll be forever indebted to him for that. My thoughts are with his wife Anne and son Ben, who I am delighted to have ridden winners for in his new career as a trainer. I’ll be at Patrick’s funeral and it will be a very, very busy occasion I'm sure.
We also lost Ken Dooley, who was killed after suffering a kick from a horse at Kempton. I have ridden a fair bit for Amanda Perrett, where Ken worked, so our paths had crossed and it’s a tragedy. It just shows that these lovely animals can be dangerous. It's a stark reminder about the dangers of the sport.
I have a very low key end to the Stobart Jockeys’ Championship with three rides at Catterick. The one I’ll pick out is Apricot Sky. He was third at the course last time over six furlongs. I decided to make the running with him last time and that change of tactics seemed to work so I’ll look to be positive again the shorter trip of five furlongs. The cut in ground will suit him too.
At Ascot, I think it could be a disastrous QIPCO British Champions Day for the bookmakers.
I was leading in the Irish St Leger when Order Of St George came cruising past me as if I was standing still. He’s since finished fourth in the Arc and he’ll take revenge on Big Orange in the Long Distance Cup.
Harry Angel looks the real deal and I always favour these horses who do the donkey work in cutting out the running. They deserve all the plaudits. He’s my idea of the winner of the Sprint, but The Tin Man, who saves his best for Ascot and will like the ground, is great each-way value at 8-1.
I take Journey to win the Fillies and Mares for the second year running. She made a very encouraging comeback after a couple of months off in the Prix Vermeille and I think John Gosden will have her absolutely primed for this.
Ribchester will strike for the north in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes; he’s been brilliant this season and is the clear form choice, while I think Barney Roy can win the Champion Stakes. He ran a good race to finish third in the Juddmonte International last time, but I think they might ride him differently here and hold him up more.
This is my last column of the year. It’s been a sound season with 68 winners; I’ve just finished out of the top 10 so won’t be playing in Europe next year but my trainer Michael Dods has had more winners than ever before, and hopefully we have a star in the making in Mabs Cross, who should be a sprinter to follow next year.