I was in the UK on Friday and Saturday where I had three rides for Nicky Henderson and one for Nick Williams across the two days. The highlight was my win on BRAIN POWER, who was very good and is really maturing. He looks to be having a crack at a Champion Hurdle trial now, and the handicapper has put him at 162, which gives him every right to do so.
Another horse worth mentioning from is ALPHA MALE, who I rode at Ascot on Friday. He’s a lovely horse and I’d say it won’t be too long before he wins a Maiden Hurdle. On Sunday I rode MONALEE in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Navan, where we just came up against a very good horse, coming second to DEATH DUTY. MONALEE is a lovely horse and whatever he does this year will be a bonus for what he does over fences next year.
Things are starting to get exciting now as the preparations begin for racing over the Christmas period and I have answered a few questions for RacingFX in their Christmas Q+A ahead of the Festive fixtures.
1. Which race in Ireland would you most like to win over the Christmas period?
The Lexus Chase at Leopardstown
2. If you could ride any horse in the King George VI on Boxing Day, who would it be and why?
CUE CARD – it looks like it’s going to be a competitive race again this year, but CUE CARD is just a class act.
3. If you could ride any horse over Christmas who would it be and why?
VALSEUR LIDO in whichever race he is in. He’s a great horse.
4. What will you be having for your Christmas dinner?
Half of whatever my Dad eats! But it won’t be a whole lot!!
5. Christmas is a time for reflection – how do you view your year?
On a personal note, it’s been a fantastic year. The Grand National win obviously stands out, but I also had a big Handicap win last weekend, as well as a couple of Grade 2 wins and plenty of big winners over the year as well.
6. When we asked a few months ago, you said you had no concrete personal targets. Two months on, have you developed any goals which you’d like to achieve during 2017?
Not particularly. I just want to keep developing and improving, and as long as I build on what I have done this year, then hopefully there’ll be more success next year.
7. Your highlight of 2016 will be winning the Grand National at Aintree. How would you describe this achievement in one word?
8. Which horse should we be looking out for in the New Year?
9. What are you hoping for in your stocking this year?
A Grade One winner