Some big news from last week that had everyone talking was that Kempton Park is to be sold by The Jockey Club for an estimated £100m. I have never got to ride around Kempton yet, but I’m sure I will before it shuts in a few years’ time. This is very disappointing news, as it’s the equivalent of losing a course like Leopardstown in Ireland and I don’t think the King George VI will be the same as it’s so famous and prestigious, so when it moves to Sandown, it’s going to be a completely different race.
I had a quieter weekend in terms of results over the weekend, but someone who has been picking up wins, is Jack Kennedy. After winning the Lexus at Christmas, he keeps banging in winners, with a double yesterday at Fairyhouse. What he’s doing and what he’ll continue to do, especially at his age, is very impressive and with Gordon Elliott backing him, he’ll stay riding winners.
It’s very competitive for rides in Ireland. If you’re not supported by the big super powers in the sport, then it’s very difficult to get ahead, especially as a young jockey. I’m very lucky that my rides are for a variety of owners and trainers. I am able to ride for smaller trainers and yards like Pat Fahy as well as Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead. I ride out for about four or five trainers each week and then ride work on the Curragh for a number of other people, which also helps me to pick up rides wherever possible.
People are starting to talk more and more about the Cheltenham Festival in March, and as I have previously mentioned in my RacingFX blog, BRAIN POWER is one to keep an eye on as we head towards the festival, as it’ll be interesting to see if he can step up and compete with Champion Hurdle company. I’ve also ridden SUB LIETENANT twice this season, winning both times and I couldn’t be more impressed with him. He gives me an unbelievable feeling every time I ride him and I think he would be great in the Ryanair. But as I’ve said before, there’s still plenty that could happen between now and March, so we will have to see.
News from Willie’s yard is that we could well see FAUGHEEN make his return at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the end of the month. This is very exciting as his performance last year is the best I’ve seen, but it’ll be difficult coming back after such a long absence. He’s the best horse I’ve witnessed in my time though, so if he comes back to anywhere near his best, it’s sure to be a very good performance.
There's plenty to look forward to this week, with racing at Thurles on Thursday, Navan on Saturday and Leopardstown on Sunday, and you can read my thoughts on all the action, every Monday with RacingFX.