Facing up to my new reality one year on from life-changing fall
This week's column comes at a difficult time for me, being just a few days before the first anniversary of the day that changed my life forever.
On October 31 last year, during what was the most routine of meetings at Kempton, I suffered a fall that left me with a T4 paralysis and, as everybody knows, I have been dealing with the aftermath of that moment ever since.
It is something I struggle to talk about, publicly and privately, but as regular readers of this column well know, I have been keen to get on with my life as best I can. That said, coming to terms with what happened that day continues to be a challenge and despite the good days, many of which have been documented here, there are still times when it can feel like an almighty struggle.
Perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that in one lightning quick moment the opportunity to do the thing I dedicated my life to was taken away from me. I still derive great joy from being around horses because they are all I have ever known, but it can be hard to digest the fact that having been a jockey for so many years all I can do with a horse on my own now is give one a pat.
All of that is just a part of the mental side of my recovery, which is going on alongside not only the physical element of things but also the other life admin, such as sorting out wheelchairs and making adjustments to my home that bring their own degrees of stress.
Through working on this column every week I have done my best to stay on top of the racing action and it has helped me to do so, although my recovery has meant that I am paying a little less attention on some days than I used to. It has been wonderful though to be able to support my sister Madeleine throughout the year and seeing her sending out runners and winners fills me with great pride.
There have been other bright spots, aside from Madeleine's success. The support of the racing community has meant an awful lot to me and I have learned a lot about who my friends really are, with some people having done so much to be there for me.
I have also been so appreciative for the support I have received throughout the process of writing this column every week. Plenty of people have reached out to tell me they have enjoyed reading it and I am proud to have been able to shine a light, in particular, on disabled access at our racecourses. I sincerely hope the work the Racecourse Association is undertaking can lead to some meaningful change.
The process has also given me the opportunity to explore some of the options now open to me, such as meeting the inspiring Great Britain Paralympic dressage team this week, getting involved with the INSPIRE Foundation and discovering that I might be a bit of a natural when it comes to rally driving!
I have so much future still to explore and while I know there are going to be tough times ahead, I am hopeful of a time when the good far outweighs the bad once more. With the support of my family and friends, in particular my mother, without whom I could not have done any of this, I know that time will come.
Cracksman lights up the big stage
Plenty of people had their doubts about Cracksman and I was one of them. For me, it was a concern about whether he had the speed for a mile and a quarter around Ascot, while for others there was a nagging doubt about whether he was truly up to winning at Group 1 level.
For all the son of Frankel has had a fine season, that was something he had not done until last weekend, but if a horse has ever proved doubters wrong in more emphatic fashion than he did in the Qipco British Champion Stakes, I'd like to see it.
This was not just a win. What Cracksman did was make horses rated as high as the 120s look ordinary with a breathtaking finishing burst that put him firmly in the reckoning for Horse of the Year accolades.
We are blessed to have had just one horse like Enable this year but to have Cracksman now emerge as a genuine threat to her is just spoiling us. It is incredible to think that they come from the same yard and I do not envy Frankie Dettori if and when he has to make a decision about which to ride.
For the sake of the sport, I'd love to see that race happen in 2018.
Performance of the week
Cracksman and company are getting plenty of love, so this week I want to highlight the achievement of Robert Winston, who guided Librisa Breeze to victory in the British Champions Sprint last week.
Robert has been a very consistent jockey over the years and is a proper horseman, with his instincts telling him to forego any thoughts of retirement in order to keep trying to reach the top with Librisa Breeze, who has been so well handled by trainer Dean Ivory.
This was a second Group 1 win for Robert and he had to wait a very long time for it, with his first coming way back in 2004, when Magical Romance took the Cheveley Park Stakes. I have no doubt that the wait will have made last weekend all the sweeter and it was great to see the genuine outpouring of joy from all connected with the horse at Ascot last week.
I have absolutely no doubt that Aidan O'Brien is going to break Bobby Frankel's world record for Group and Grade 1 wins this afternoon in the Racing Post Trophy (3.25).
It has proved difficult this year to try to work out a Ballydoyle pecking order in these big races based purely on which jockey is riding which horse but I think the fact Ryan Moore has opted to side with Saxon Warrior is significant.
The form of his maiden win may not have worked out too strong, but it was striking on the eye and he delivered something of real substance when winning the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh last month.
The subsequent Irish Derby and St Leger winner Capri took that race 12 months ago and Saxon Warrior, a Deep Impact son of the Group 1-winning mare Maybe, can set up his own Classic campaign by making it three wins from three as a two-year-old.
There will be a real buzz about Doncaster today and I hope everybody who goes racing gets to witness a moment of history at around 3.30pm.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com