Lessons Learnt

Lessons Learnt

Monday, May 23, 2016


You know how much I fancied Dynamo at Lingfield on Tuesday. Sadly he didn't get beyond the first bend with Steph Joannides unseated when another runner came across her.

The most important thing is Steph got up. She was pretty shook up and got a bit of whiplash, but that isn't surprising. An all-weather track is the worst sort of surface to fall on as you don't roll when you land. She will probably never fall for the same reason again because she'll remember how much this one hurt.

When you're riding into the point of a bend you never pull back. It's a golden rule. Steph pulled back and paid the consequences.

In those circumstances you need to hold your position. You never go around a bend half a length down on the horse on your outside. You either get in or you get out. You can't half-do anything when you're race-riding. Horses on the outer will always lean in going around a bend.

As soon as Steph pulled back that gap between her and the horse on her right was always going to vanish.

She'll be out for a week or two but she's a tough nut and will be fine. I know we were unlucky and I know if the horse had stood up he could have won, but that's racing.

If every horse you thought would win did win, the sport would be no fun. Aidan O'Brien and Sir Michael Stoute would end up winning every race and I wouldn't win any! The best horse won't always win and the best jockey won't always produce the best ride.


Sunday night was very special because I was among the guests at the Queen's 90th birthday party in the grounds of Windsor Castle that you might well have watched on ITV.

I couldn't get over the scale of the event. How on earth does someone organise something like that? Someone did and the whole evening went like clockwork. There were 500 horses taking part - imagine that. At one minute there were horses from Oman coming out of the arena and then the next minute horses from Azerbaijan were coming in.

All I had to do was move from my seat, go to the holding area, get into a carriage and then wave while the carriage was driven through the arena. Also in the carriage was the famous horse whisperer Monty Roberts. The man is 81 years of age - he was in Budapest the day before and was off to South Africa the following day. He has also just had a new knee fitted but he jumped into the carriage like a twoyear-old.

I was lucky enough to have dinner with Monty beforehand and I really got my money's worth. He must have been sick of me by the end of the evening because of the number of questions I was asking him.

Monty spoke at length about how horses always lean in towards pressure. If you walk into a stable and try to push a horse over, the horse will lean into you. At any sign of trouble or danger a horse will move towards where the danger is coming from. That's how they protect themselves. Think about a horse who is encountering trouble in running. When two horses touch, one of them will sometimes react by leaning into the other even harder.

Spending time was Monty was great, as was the whole evening. I don't think an event like that could have been organised as well in any other country. It was a wonderful tribute to the Queen, who last year very kindly sent me a horse to train, a two-year-old called Patchwork that Monty worked with before the colt came to me. That time with Monty will have done him plenty of good.