Weblog: A young jockey making a name for himself
Une Artiste (green): Cheltenham victory was the highlight of a great yearPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Gibb River win was a great way to end year
Well this is it for me, for now at least. My final blog after what has been a brilliant season for me. There have been lows, like the bad fall I had at Cheltenham before Christmas that put me in hospital, but that's the joys of jumps racing, and overall I'm delighted with how the year has gone.
The yard has had a fantastic year with horses like Sprinter Sacre (and my favourite Simonsig) confirming on the track what we've known all along at home, and on a personal level things have gone very well too.
I've ridden 22 winners this year, including Une Artiste at the Cheltenham Festival. That has to go down as one of the highlights of my life, not just my career and winning on Gibb River at Sandown on Channel 4 on the last day of the season was the perfect way to cap everything.
He was a dubious runner as the ground was bottomless, but he's such a tough horse and he deserves to get his head in front. I rode him at Aintree and he had a tongue tie on and never faced it. He just wouldn't travel.
Whereas at Sandown we left it off and he was a completely different horse. He jumped, he travelled, and although he made hard work of it, that was due to the ground and he'll be a better horse on better ground. He'll make a lovely chaser next year.
Winning these sort of races, where you're racing for decent prize-money, makes all the difference to jockeys, and getting a percentage of some decent prize-money was a nice bonus at the end of the season.
A trip to London
Talking of nice bonuses, Simon Munir (who owns Une Artise) invited me to his box for the Arsenal v Norwich game at the weekend. It was very entertaining with goals galore and I also got to meet Jacques Ricou who is a former champion jockey in France.
He was telling me about how different racing is in France. He rides almost exclusively for Guillaume Macaire, rarely picking up outside rides, and most journeys take him more than five hours. He also has to be in the yard every morning to school and work horses, which lads like myself can relate to but it's unusual to think of the top riders in this country having to muck out every morning.
It was a real eye-opener, but with funding in France so much better he doesn't have to try and ride the same volume of horses as we do.
Rain, rain, go away
That said, nobody is getting many rides at the moment with all the abandoned meetings. Everyone in every racing yard up and down the country was asking for rain all through March and April, well it seems to have arrived and we've had more than enough so it can stop now. It looks like there is rain throughout the week but hopefully we can get back up and running soon.
The Swinton Hurdle is this weekend and the boss mentioned he might take some weight off one of our runners, but which horses run depends on the ground. It'd be great to start the new season with a bang, but at the moment I don't know if or where I'll be riding.
This card at Haydock last year had two hurdles races and two chases but they've got rid of the two chases which is a real shame as it's always a meeting Mr Henderson likes to target.
Over and out
That's it from me, I've had a lot of fun writing my blog, I hope you've found it entertaining and gained more of an understanding of what life is like for us jockeys. I'll be riding throughout the summer whenever I can but I do plan to take a week off to go back to Ireland to visit my family and I may try and take a working holiday for a week or two in France and try and gain a better understanding of how racing works out there.
You can follow me on twitter throughout the summer @JerrymcGrath