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Champion season finishes on high at Champions Day

18 Oct 2019

Saturday looks set to be super exciting; not only is it QIPCO Brtitish Champions Day, but before racing I will be crowned Champion Flat Jockey in front of my peers, friends and family in the Ascot parade ring. I can’t wait now to get my hands on the trophy!

It’s a tough championship to win, and I owe a lot to many different people. To get that volume of winners you rely on the people your riding for, the owners and trainers, and without them it isn’t possible.

My agent Gavin, has worked extremely hard to get me those opportunities on a consistent basis. If you get enough chances to ride good horses, then you can get in a position to win a championship like this.

Being a jockey is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I’ve looked up to plenty of people still in the weighing room who have won multiple championships. Jamie Spencer has won it twice, Silvestre has won it three times, and to do that is some achievement.

First and foremost I have to focus on the rides on the day – I’ve got some really good chances to round off an amazing year with another winner on the big stage.

I open up aboard the The Tin Man in the Champions Sprint and, make no mistake, I think I should have won at Haydock on him last time. He stood lovely in the stalls, but his first stride he stumbled and lost a couple of lengths, which ended up being the difference between winning and losing.

It’s a more competitive race for sure; Advertise, Sands Of Mali, Hello Youmzain –  I have huge respect for these horses but The Tin Man has been trained for this. He’ll have no problem going through the ground either.

In the Long Distance Cup I get the leg up on Max Dynamite in the famous Rich Ricci silks. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s a very consistent horse that should handle that ground and finish his race strongly. It’s always great to pick up a ride for Willie Mullins; we went close with Thomas Hobson last year and it would be great to go one better this time around.

Look, we all love Stradivarius, he’s been campaigned exceptionally well over the past two seasons. He’s nearly unbeatable. The only thing is he doesn’t want the ground too slow but for me class gets horses through like it did for Frankel when he won the QIPCO Champion Stakes and I think Stradivarius will probably be a similar case.

In the Fillies & Mares I get to don the silks of my employers Qatar Racing aboard Sparkle Roll. While she’s got a bit to find on the market leaders I think she’s got definite place chance at least, it would be lovely to get Group 1 black type for her. She’s very well bred and that’s the goal with her.

Benbatl comes into the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO) on the back of a superb win in the Joel Stakes last time out. The decision has been made to run over a mile, as 10 furlongs in this sort of ground will not be to his liking. Going back to a mile should be perfect for him. He’s the best horse in the race on ratings and there’s going to be some pace to run at in a deep field. I love him to bits and I hope he does himself justice because he deserves to win a major Group 1 in Britain.

Lord Glitters will obviously enjoy the conditions and being back at Ascot will suit, and Century Dream may have gone under the radar having run brilliant race last year to finish third here. But my guy is the best horse in the race and should be favourite

Come the feature race of the day, the QIPCO Champion Stakes I ride Deirdre, who I galloped at Newmarket the other morning- she is in super order. I’m delighted for her that they are moving to the inner flat course, as she’ll want the ground as firm as possible to show her best running. She couldn’t be in better form and if she does go on the ground she will definitely have a winning chance.

The obvious danger is Magical, who brings top quality Group 1 form into this race. If that run in the Arc hasn’t taken too much out of her then she will be really tough to beat. Coronet is an ultra consistent type as well for John Gosden and she has two Group 1 wins to her name this season.

I ride Kick On in the Balmoral Handicap is a Group 3 and Listed winner this season. He worked really nicely on grass when I rode him for John Gosden the other morning. It’s a very competitive race though and Lord North looks like the stand out horse.

In the Cambridgeshire Frankie met loads of trouble and somehow still managed to never look like he was in danger because he had that much horse under him. So if he goes on the conditions, he’s the most likely winner.

QIPCO British Champions Day is a great day, it’s got a fantastic atmosphere. It’s the best single days’ racing in Britain. If you took the British and the Irish horses out of Longchamp then QBCD would be easily the best days racing in Europe. Personally, I love the Arc but I also love the QIPCO Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.