Jockey Talk

Jockey Talk

Jockey Talk

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


You have to feel for Paco Boy, siring as good a 2000 Guineas winner as Galileo Gold and then everyone assuming that the winner is by Galileo! How unlucky can you get.

Having won a Queen Anne and a Lockinge on Paco Boy I was absolutely delighted to see Galileo Gold win like that, and I wasn’t that surprised either as I was pretty positive about his chance beforehand. The burning question afterwards was how far would he stay?

We never ran Paco Boy beyond a mile, and I suspect that might prove to be Galileo Gold’s best trip too, but I could have understood it if they ran him at Epsom, as there’s only one Derby and you never know.

As Hugo Palmer said, if he was by Galileo out of a Paco Boy mare, rather than the other way around, it probably wouldn’t even be up for discussion, but there was that doubt and the gene test he had conducted evidently showed pretty conclusively he’s likely to be best at a mile.

I like to go on what I see, and my worry would have been that he would just be a little on the keen side, and that mile and a half takes some getting.

As for Air Force Blue, he obviously underperformed by a long way. I remember when Canford Cliffs got beat in the Guineas he’d been very lethargic through the winter and hadn’t really come. We still hoped he would win, but I wasn’t over excited about him. There were one or two little warning signs about Air Force Blue too, but he’ll be back.

Minding was brilliant in the 1000 Guineas, and for Ryan to say she’s as good as he’s ridden she must be really good.

I see there’s been some talk about running her in the Derby. I don’t suppose it will happen if Coolmore have a really good colt, but I don’t think the top colts and fillies mix it up enough here and I’d welcome it.

We saw Taghrooda take on the boys in the King George as a three-year-old but it doesn’t often happen.

The Oaks could be there for the taking and maybe she could run in that and then go for the Irish Derby, as Balanchine did back in 1994.

But these decisions aren’t easy and you have to respect whatever connections decide. There’s no right or wrong.


Shane Kelly is proving a great asset to the stable, as anyone can see.

We saw it with Russian Realm and again at Windsor last Monday when Cape Discovery won, but there’s much more to being a good stable jockey than riding winners.

Shane comes down to ride out twice a week and so gets to know the horses at home, where he also interacts very well with my head lad and the other staff.

He also gives me very good feedback at the races. There’s no substitute for the insight you get from riding in a race, whether it’s a big race or a bad maiden, and Shane might get off one and tell me “don’t worry that you only finished fifth as that rode a good race”. That sort of feedback can be invaluable to me.

He’s always been a good judge and he has loads of experience. He’s sensible and he’s very reliable, and I know that whatever he does there will be a good reason for it. If he’s got it wrong he’ll come in and tell me

His other big asset of course is that he’s got great hands. I hate to see horses over race. They have to relax to breathe. Even pulling just a little bit it can take a lot out of them.

You never see one of Mark Johnston’s pulling, and the way he trains them to relax gives them such an advantage. A lot of his race from the front, but they will relax anywhere in the field.

Mark never gives instructions and it’s a matter of being wherever you can get into a good rhythm. I’m the same. The odd horse might want holding up so that they don’t get there too soon, but for the rest of them I don’t mind if they are in front, in midfield or out the back, so long as they are relaxed.


I was delighted when my apprentice Stephanie Joannides won on Dynamo at Lingfield the other day.

Steph was the first apprentice to come to me when I started, having ridden a winner for William Haggas two years ago, and she’s a great girl. She’s very polite, very punctual, and very informative in the mornings

She was a bit unlucky on the same horse a couple of days earlier, but she probably should have won that day too. More races are lost at the start than anywhere else, and although she had a good draw in stall two she found herself with too many horses in front of her. She also clipped heels, but that wasn’t the problem.

We spoke about it in the office the next day, when I had my other apprentices in too, and they all learned from it.

To go out and win the next day on the same horse was brilliant, and so good for her confidence, especially as she had an unhappy experience on Dynamo in a maiden at Wolverhampton earlier this year when she picked up a ten-day ban for failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures.

I told Steph that day to follow them around and try and pass a few at the end, and to be fair she did what she was told. I was wrong for giving those instructions, for in order for Steph to pass a few at the end she probably had to sit a bit too far back. But if she had ridden him fifth or sixth he would have been tailed off.

In hindsight she gave Dynamo a good ride, as she managed to pass a few in a maiden on a horse that got a rating of 45, but it didn’t look too good and that was just inexperience.

To her credit, she took it on the chin and just got on with it.


It’s great to have a sustained period of warmer weather at last.

Last Saturday morning we had snow in the yard, then on Sunday we rode out in tee-shirts. One minute the horses have the rugs on them, and the next minute the sun is out.

As a rule I would rather the horses were too hot than too cold, but such changeable weather isn’t good for them and the odd filly has still been holding on to her winter coat.

They got through it though, and now that my paddocks are drying out the older horses are getting to spend more time turned out. It does them the world of good.

Jockey Talk

Jockey Talk

Wednesday, May 11, 2016