Fairytales don’t happen once, never mind twice.
To win the Badger Ales Trophy on Present Man last year was brilliant. But to win it again last Saturday. That was just unbelievable.
I said beforehand that lightning didn’t strike twice, but I hoped that it would. And it did. It was incredible. To have a horse like him, to go out on the battlefield once for you. Then to do it again a year later.
And the way that he did it. Paul didn’t give him a prep run this year. He just got out there and jumped. I wasn’t setting out to make the running really, I just wanted to get a good start and get him rolling. He likes to get into his own pocket, so I just let him bowl along over those first few fences, get into a nice rhythm.
He made it easy for me. I didn’t mind when On Demand took us on, once we were in a good rhythm. We were able to enjoy it for a mile, just bowling along and jumping. We jumped the cross fence, and we waited for a minute to see if we would go inside or outside. I didn’t mind going outside, we didn’t give away any ground.
We switched out, and he jumped the fourth last the way that he did. Then the second last. He must have had invisible wings, the way that he jumped the second last. And then he ran on to the line.
In a way, I think that it was a bigger deal this year than last year. Last year, everyone had their doubts about him, if he would handle soft ground if he would stay. This year, he had his ground, we knew that he would stay, he loves the track. In theory, he was the best horse in the race. We had the boxes all ticked from last year. We just had to go and tick them all again.
There was no pressure though. You don’t get pressure from Paul, and you don’t get pressure from the owners.
You know that the horse has been perfectly prepared, and you know that the owners have confidence in you.
I can’t thank them enough, Mr and Mrs Woodhouse, to have the confidence in me to put me up. They sponsor the Badger Ales Trophy, to it is a big day for them. It was a big day for all of us.
It was great to win the conditional jockeys’ handicap chase earlier on the day on Capeland. He’s a tricky customer, you have to come with one run on him. He had a good run at Fontwell last month with Harry behind Sizing Tennessee, and he came on from that.
I tried to get him jumping, get his confidence rolling. Paul had told me to come with one run.
So I counted to 10, then switched him out on the run to the last. He was very good at the last and we got home by a half a length. I was really chuffed with that. That was good fun.
Then at Kempton last Monday, I rode my 75th winner on Marienstar. That was the last win under my claim. And of all the 75 winners, that was probably the easiest!
Neil has his horses in such good form. When I turned in, I was thinking, we only jump the last twice, right?! We don’t have another circuit?!
She was going so well. I couldn’t hear anything else, I couldn’t see anyone else’s shadow, so I just kept going and, when I was sure we didn’t have to go around again, I could enjoy it.
It’s always a tricky one when you lose your claim, but I haven’t really thought about it. Two years as an amateur, one year as a professional. Other people do it more quickly. But it doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was riding for Dad, claiming 7lb.
I’m very lucky. I have such good people around me.
Paul and all the team, and the owners to back me, to give me the opportunities that they have given me. And to have taken a chance on me, to have the backbone to support me.
And to have my family and my friends and the people I have around me. I’m in a privileged position.
Frodon ran another great race to finish second in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. Paul backed me and put me up, without my claim. And Mr and Mrs Vogt, to keep faith in me. I am very grateful to them.
And I was very proud of Frodon, I think that he’s still improving. He’s only six. He gets into his rhythm more quickly than he used to, he tunes in. He’s on point very quickly now. He’s a real professional.
I’ve watched the video quite a few times now, trying to figure out where we could have found the two lengths that Baron Alco beat us by. But I’m not sure we could have found them. I think that Jamie’s horse was getting a bit lonely in front. Frodon ran his heart out though. He gave his all, and that’s all we could have asked from him.