Disappointed with West End Show
The Grand National was a huge anti-climax for West End Rocker as he just got too tight to the second fence, rubbed the top and fell. The effects of that left a mark on Saturday in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and he was the first one beaten. Much was made of the start at Aintree but we see this year in and year out. Everyone wants to get a good start and you're trying to do what the officials are asking but at the same time you do not want to give anything away. I did end up tangled in the tapes having been slightly sluggish on the first time we were called in but it certainly didn't have any influence on what happened going to the second fence.
Saturdays are so special
I was thrilled with the season as a whole. Numbers-wise, it would not have been my best - but in terms of quality it definitely was. There were plenty of good Saturday winners in the spotlight on terrestrial TV and I had said to myself at the start of the season the aim was to ride a big-race Saturday winner. I was fortunate to have a spell when it was happening almost every week and I am delighted with the way things have gone. I could not have done it without the support of Alan (King) and the owners and they have all been fantastic standing by me while Choc (Thornton) was out injured.
Cheltenham treble delight
My treble on Cheltenham Trials day at the end of January was very good and I still look back and appreciate what a good day that was. It was huge and it is hard for the likes of Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy to ride three winners at any Cheltenham meeting, let alone a Trials day. I was just speaking to my agent, who looks after the likes of Jason Maguire and Daryl Jacob as well who have had very successful seasons, and he said the exposure on Saturdays doesn't make it any easier in selling a jockey. That was a surprise but the way things are now with most places sewn up, the spare rides are just not around. But I'd like to think it does help and it certainly does no harm!
Smad still going places
I think that Smad Place will be super over fences next season. It was obviously unfortunate that he slipped up at Aintree on his final start but I schooled him last Thursday over hurdles and he is fine at home. I am sure he will go and see a fence now before he gets turned away for the summer and it will be very exciting to see him in staying novice chases next season.
I find the summer a bit difficult to be honest as I don't really have any proper summer contacts. It does get a bit lean and I will try and pick up what I can and will probably end up going to ride out for Brian Meehan. I did that last year to give a helping hand and earn some pocket money. I'll take a break somewhere along the line too. It's very hard - the Welsh trainers like Tim Vaughan, Evan Williams and Peter Bowen tend to dominate this period but I have ridden a bit through the winter for Alison Thorpe and I will be keen to keep that partnership going as she will have summer jumpers to run. That will be my main summer link.