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My Top 5 Moments of 2016

30 Dec 2016

Well, belated Christmas wishes to everyone and hope that you all had a great time. It was very quiet over here and I ended up going to an Irish pub for Christmas lunch – even though I was definitely the only Irish person in there!

I’ve been keeping busy, though, and have been sticking to the regime of riding track work and then running for an hour and a half and swimming every day. I’m probably fitter than I have ever been but it remains as competitive as ever on the track. I’ve only ridden one favourite since i’ve been over here – but there could be a few more opportunities as some of the leading riders are suspended at the moment. New Year’s Eve looks like being a quiet one again as I have nine rides the following day!

As we approach the final days of 2016 I’ve been having a think back to some of the best moments of the year. It’s been a really good one and I was fortunate to make the shortlist recently for Flat Jockey of the Year at the Stobart Lesters. Here’s my top five highlights:

5) Pallasator at Sandown

Sir Mark Prescott tried calling me at 6.59 on the morning of the Henry II Stakes and thankfully I’d had chance to wake up by the time he rang again 10 minutes later! He set out exactly how he wanted me to ride Pallasator and I simply carried out his masterful instructions. I’ve always had such respect for him and this was one of my first rides for him. Therefore it was great to get a Group win for him and Qatar under the belt early in the season.

4) Blond Me in Turkey

I’d never been to Turkey before but we got such a great welcome and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Istanbul is a beautiful city, one that I would encourage anyone to visit, and obviously winning the Topkapi Trophy was the icing on the cake!

3) Poet’s Vanity at Newmarket

I thought this filly could be Group class when I rode her at Salisbury on her debut. It was really rewarding to then go on and win a competitive Group 2 on Future Champions Weekend for owners who have supported the Baldings for a long time. There has been a period when Andrew hasn’t had really decent horses, but the two-year-olds this year have had real strength in depth.

2) Celebration Mile Weekend at Goodwood

I was fortunate enough to ride a Group-race double at Goodwood in August on Lightning Spear and Opal Tiara. It’s a tricky course to ride and I got a particular kick from the latter’s success, as she was badly drawn and wasn’t that fancied. However, I was riding with plenty of confidence and everything went right on the day.

1) Simple Verse at Doncaster

There was no pressure going into the Park Hill Stakes and I rode Simple Verse with plenty of confidence. To win a Group 2 on her was vindicating and I knew she was flying as she moved so well down to post. Doncaster is genuinely my favourite track and I have had a lot of luck there.