Oisin recalls his most embarrassing days on the track!
22 May 2020
It feels like we’re getting closer to racing again now and I hope that on June 1 we’re back in action in the UK. With the Guineas Weekend pencilled in for the first weekend back we’re going to see the best horses straight away so there’s plenty to look forward to.
I’ve read some differing views on the subject but I have to say I think it’s fantastic that Royal Ascot looks like going ahead in its usual slot. It’s one of my favourite meetings of the year and the eyes of the sporting world will be on it with it being broadcast in 60 different countries.
I do think it’s important that we get the big races run as close to their usual dates as is possible, for the sake of the Pattern, including the two-year-old contests. As long as racing starts on June 1 there will be plenty of opportunities to get a run into your horse including your Ascot-bound juveniles.
I’ve been sitting on a few Ascot horses at one or two yards myself and there’s a real ‘the season’s almost here’ feeling at the stables I’ve been to.
One horse that’s been going really well at home is Fox Chairman for Andrew Balding. He’s not my ride – Silvestre De Sousa will ride him – but he’s definitely improved from last year and looks absolutely fantastic. He’s a very lightly-raced four-year-old son of Kingman and I think we might well see him at the highest level over 10 furlongs or a mile and a half this season. He looks a picture.
While that’s all in the future, it’s time to look back on the past again and this week I’m recalling some of my most embarrassing days as a jockey so far – hopefully I won’t be adding to this list any time soon!
Tears for jeers: Chester May 9 2014
I got a telling off from a few jockeys at Chester in 2014. I was riding Zampa Manos in the Dee Stakes and I made a silly mid-race manoeuvre, I suppose. A few of the jockeys let me know how they felt back in the weighing room afterwards and I just started crying my eyes out like a little baby.
When I came out to ride for Hughie Morrison on Banoffee in the Ormonde Stakes, the next race, I was practically still crying my eyes out, they were still really watery, anyway.
There’s quite a few photos my friends, the likes of Tom Brown and Kieran Shoemark, like to drag up and show me when they think it’s funny and appropriate, but it’s so embarrassing to see, me literally crying in the parade ring before the Ormonde Stakes.
Thou shalt not pass: Chepstow May 16 2017
I was riding in the same colours I rode my first winner in on a horse called Sir Pass I Am, it got about 300,000 views on Twitter from some guy abusing me. Basically, I was about 20 lengths clear and I started pulling him up inside the last furlong with the race in the bag. I pulled him back to a hack canter but I misjudged it and just got to the line in time.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 17, 2017
Another stride and I would’ve been beaten and finished second. I was looking at the big screen and obviously there’s a slight delay, so I didn’t realise the other jockeys were getting so close to me.
When I got back into the winners’ enclosure Andrew was obviously furious and gave me, how can I say it, he put some fear into me, anyway. I haven’t done anything like that again since!
Meehan mix-up: Early 2018
I was supposed to ride some work at the track for Brian Meehan and he’s always been very sound to me. It was on a good horse, Raheen House I think, and I was there for 9am like he said. I couldn’t see him anywhere and then he called me about 9.30 asking where I was.
I said ‘yeah I’m in the pre-parade ring’ and he said, ‘so am I, are you lying to me?’
It was just about then it dawned on me I’d got mixed up. I said ‘Brian, you did say Lingfield didn’t you?’ but he said ‘no, I said Kempton, I’m at Kempton.’
Of course, to get from Lingfield to Kempton at that time in the morning would take 45 minutes, at least, so he had to get someone else to ride him.
That was painful, so I always double-check the places I’m meant to be at these days!
Lessons in Dubai: Meydan, March 10 2018
I adore both Benbatl and Thunder Snow and I got the leg up on the pair of them on Super Saturday at Meydan in 2018 in a couple of Group Ones.
I rode Benbatl in the Jebel Hatta and Thunder Snow in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge, they were both well-fancied, even-money and 5/6 respectively, and I got beat on them both.
It was really hard to take. I was flying at the time, things were going so well, I was riding lots of winners, the likes of Opal Tiara, and I was riding with a lot of confidence.
It was a really hard journey back to pick myself up, I had to go racing again the next day, I had to. It was a learning curve. Thankfully Saeed bin Suroor let me keep the ride on Benbatl and we won the Dubai Turf on his next start.
I blame myself, particularly for the Benbatl defeat. I know Benbatl and I know he likes a good warm-up, you don’t have to go flat out but you need to get him going on the way to post. It’s just so he knows he’s at the races but I forgot to do that going down to the start and he didn’t jump out of the gates well.
He subsequently didn’t travel like he can do. He was the best horse in that race and we lost by three-quarters-of-a-length. It still hurts now.