I KNOW it’s a few days early but I’ve already made my New Year’s resolution.
All jump jockeys, of course, want to stay fit and healthy. It goes without saying and, let’s face it, that’s a bit of a boring answer.
But if I can stay injury-free it means I can continue to do what I love the most – riding Altior.
He was incredible when winning the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Thursday – his 16th win on the trot. The way he quickened up off such a strong pace was particularly special.
He’s just a pleasure to be around and it’s even better when you’re on top of him in the best races.
I’ve been reading that some people want him to step up to 3m and run in the King George next season but I think it’s great the way he’s been campaigned by the guv’nor.
I think we might possibly see him step up to 2m4f for the Melling Chase at Aintree in the spring but we’ll take it race-by-race.
We’re likely to see him out next in the Clarence House at Ascot in three weeks. Hopefully, that will be a nice stepping-stone to Cheltenham to try to win the Champion Chase again.
I don’t know about 3m. For me, he’s a speed horse.
The way he races does give him a chance of staying 3m, perhaps, but I’ll be more than happy if he keeps winning these top 2m races.
It’s my selfish point of view but he’s winning these top-class races so easily, why wouldn’t you keep doing what you’re doing?
I can’t imagine my mate David Bass will be doing anything different in the New Year. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said a general election.
When most people go to sleep on Christmas Eve they’re hoping Santa will turn up.
For Bassy he dreams of another bloke with a beard usually dressed in red who answers to the name Jeremy.
He’s got a couple of nice rides for his boss Kim Bailey today. Luckily, they’re up at Doncaster as he’s well set-up to lean left-handed.
I didn’t manage to get him anything for Christmas so maybe I’ll pass on this nasty bout of man flu I’ve got in the next few days.
It was great to see Dickie Johson get an OBE in the New Year’s Honours.
He’s a shining light in our sport. He’s the ultimate professional but, at the same time, he’s always up for a laugh and a joke. It’s a privilege to be working with him.
He always goes out of his way to make sure the younger jockeys are made welcome when they first come into the weighing room. If ever there’s a problem he’s often the one that sorts it out for everyone.
I’ll be congratulating him at Newbury today – where I’ve got two rides – but my generosity won’t extend to allowing him any extra goodwill in the Challow Hurdle.
I’m on Nestor Park (3.00) for Ben Pauling and I was very impressed with him when he won at Warwick last month. That’s what we thought he could do.
He showed a load of ability when he beat Portrush Ted – winner of the big bumper at Aintree’s Grand National meeting – at Ascot last year.
We knew we had a nice one for hurdling this season. He was slightly chucked in at the deep end in a Cheltenham Grade 2 for his hurdles debut when he ran a bit too free behind Coolanly.
That means he has a bit of ground to make up but it was his first run of the season and his first race over hurdles.
We’re back up in grade but we wouldn’t be running unless we thought he was up to it. It’s a hot race but our lads jumps well, travels well so I’m hoping he can go close.
Wenyerreadyfreddie (3.35) has done really well over fences this year – even better than we’d hoped. He’s certainly exceeded our expectations and it’s always nice to be surprised like that.
First time out over fences he nearly beat Lil Rockerfeller at Uttoxeter and from then on we knew we had quite a nice chaser on our hands.
He’s won twice since then and the form of his defeat of Kildisart got a nice boost when that one went on to win a good graduation chase at Ascot last week.
We go into the race as the one to beat and his experience means it plays into our hands but he might be reaching his limit with the handicapper. We’ll just have to see but he does keep progressing.