Weblog: A young jockey making a name for himself
Simonsig is Jerry's idea of a festival winner, whatever race he runs inPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Kauto proves how fragile all our festival dreams are
This is such an exciting time, with less than two weeks until the festival everyone is dreaming big so I was gutted yesterday when I heard the news last night that Kauto Star is just 50-50 to make the Gold Cup.
It's such bad news and I really hope he makes it to the race as it was shaping up to be a Gold Cup to savour. You know if Paul runs him he'll have every chance and it'd be great if he could make it because he's a true champion. Whether he makes it or not, he'll be all anyone talks about all week, that's for sure.
You can't wrap them up in cotton wool though and like Fingal Bay, one or two will not make it. It's gutting for everyone involved if a fancied horse gets a knock at this time and we've all got our fingers crossed all of ours get to the course.
We won't have many runners over the next week or so, but every morning is so important as the boss gets the horses primed for Cheltenham.
The horse I'm most looking forward to is Simonsig. I ride him every day and he's a machine. Whether he goes for the Supreme or the Neptune, I think he'll win, the half mile won't make any difference to him.
He's a pleasure to be associated with and the only thing better than riding him at home would be to sit on him in a race. It'll be a while before I get those sort of rides but that's the dream we're all chasing.
At the open day Mr Henderson said he'd look to take 5lbs off French Opera in the Grand Annual and that is a ride I'd love to have. He'd be some spin around Cheltenham and he keeps the weights down for a few others, so hopefully he'll run.
I'd love the leg up but it is so competitive for rides, especially as a conditional as people aren't too interested in claiming off one at the festival but I rode a horse a few weeks ago called Open Hearted and Mr Henderson said he'd go for the boys race.
I'd love to keep the ride as he's a progressive novice going the right way. He won well at Fakenham and it was actually my first ride there and my first for the owner, who happens to be the Queen, so to make it a winning one was nice.
I've not been told whether I'll ride him or not but he'd have to have a good chance and I'm desperate to ride a festival winner, though right now I think everyone is!
Well done David
Talking of claims, I want to give a big congratulations to David Bass who rode out his claim the other day and has now joined the ranks of fully fledged professionals.
I got a taste of what it's like to be a professional last week, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh are being filmed for a documentary-style show on jockeys for Irish television and I had a microphone and a camera in my face on several occasions. It's great experience and great publicity, but it's funny how much slower your mind works when someone is filming you.
It was good as it gave me a chance to look back at the start of my career and to think of where I am now, it put things in perspective and I couldn't be happier. If you'd told me when I started that I'd be claiming 5lb and riding for Nicky Henderson, sitting on horses like Simonsig when I first got into racing... I definitely wouldn't have believed you.
I was down at Taunton yesterday and bumped into Wayne Clifford, of Bathwick Tyres fame, in the car-park as I was leaving. He actually gave me my first ever winner, which I'd been talking about when the TV boys interviewed me.
He's followed my career since and it's always a pleasure to talk to him. It's really nice when someone like that takes the time to keep tabs on you.
Lending a helping hand
As I was leaving there was a guy waiting for a taxi to take him into Taunton so he could catch the train so I thought I'd do my good deed for the day. He actually turned out to be an owner and his horse had been fatally injured.
It's always horrible to lose a horse and when you see how much it affects the people involved, he was really cut up about it, it just reminds you how much everyone loves their horses.
A good ride this weekend
I ride a horse for Tom Symonds in a valuable bumper at Newbury on Saturday and I gave her a spin yesterday morning.
She's a game mare and has a chance but I think Mr Henderson's horse will be very difficult to beat, while I know Anthony Honeyball and Alan King's yards are both keen on theirs.
This is what happens when there is a good prize like this, good horses turn up and it'll be a great race to ride in.
Jerry McGrath will be updating this blog throughout Cheltenham — don't miss his take on the festival