Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Thrilled to train first winner for Cheveley Park Stud

It was lovely to get our first winner for Cheveley Park Stud when Winter Light landed the five and a half furlong maiden at Brighton on Wednesday.

The daughter of Bated Breath had bumped into two very nice fillies on her previous two starts. Heartwarming, who beat her at Sandown, is now rated 94 after finishing runner-up in the Listed St Hugh’s Stakes, while Winter Light’s Newbury conqueror Magnetic Charm runs in Goodwood’s Group 3 Ladbrokes Prestige Stakes on Saturday.

Breaking the maiden is very important for a Cheveley Park Stud filly - it’s a huge breeding operation - and Winter Light did it nicely.

We’ll now look for a novice event somewhere in which she won’t get a penalty for landing a Class 5 maiden.

Winter Light has got quicker all summer. Around the middle of May I was under the impression that I should be starting her at seven furlongs, but she has improved and possesses plenty of speed.

She clocked a time at Brighton that was quicker than the Class 3 on the card which contained sprinters rated between 73 and 90.

We sent Winter Light down to Brighton because it is easier to win a maiden there than at York or Newbury.

I have not had one horse come back unsound from Brighton since I started training - they always do a very good job with the ground there. It’s an excellent surface.

It was also pleasing to see that three of the other races on the card were landed by apprentices attached to Weathercock House.

Nicola Currie won the 6f handicap for Amy Murphy aboard Blessed To Empress, while Finley Marsh completed a double courtesy of the Bill Turner-trained Little Boy Blue and John Gallagher’s front-running mare Andalusite.

I’m delighted that Nicola and Finley are doing so well. Nicola only claims 3lb nowadays, and is close to becoming a fully-fledged jockey.

It’s very important that these kids make good contacts with a number of trainers at this important stage of their careers.

A lot of apprentices believe that the trainers are actually booking them when, in fact, they are booking their claim. If they don’t realise that is the case it’s certain they will struggle later on.

Most kids have no realisation that they are only being used for their claim. I can guarantee what would happen if I tried to persuade any owner to let an apprentice who normally claims 3lb or 5lb, but couldn’t on this particular occasion, ride the horse instead of Ryan Moore.

Apprentices must impress the people they are riding for, and give proper feedback when they return to unsaddle. Ideally they must tell the trainer something he or she didn’t know before.

They need to make good eye contact with trainers and owners, and to put themselves in pole position to ride the horse again. Don’t ever forget we’re all in the showbiz game.

Nicola and Finley have both been given plenty of opportunities, but you can only help them to a certain extent with their riding style; young riders should go out and practice and find their own style which suits them.

Where I can be of greater assistance is in terms of teaching them how to race-ride. It comes naturally to some; less so to others.

Roaring Lion provides welcome boost for three-year-olds

I have been enjoying a few days in the Portugal sun this week with my kids, while maintaining a close eye on the racing at York.

You couldn’t fail to be impressed with Roaring Lion’s success in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes under Oisin Murphy.

This horse is far more professional and grown-up now compared to when he started his three-year-old campaign with defeats in the Craven and 2,000 Guineas.

He went dead straight in the closing stages ay York; in the past he would have drifted left or right under pressure. He was very green and raw earlier in his career.

Roaring Lion is a big, progressive horse, and proved himself the fastest horse in the International. Oisin gave him a nice ride.

The runner-up Poet’s Word was always going to find it hard to beat Roaring Lion over a mile and a quarter.

He didn’t get the greatest run through, but wouldn’t have beaten the winner even if he had enjoyed a clear passage.

James Doyle gave Poet’s Word a great ride from off the pace to wear down Crystal Ocean in the closing stages of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

That’s a gruelling mile and a half, and the shorter trip on the Knavesmire was unlikely to play to his strengths.

It was a shot to nothing, though, so why not go for it? He ran a big race, but simply wasn’t good enough.

The three-year-olds needed that boost. There has been a serious question mark against them this year.

Roaring Lion struggled in the spring, but his wins in the Eclipse and at York show just how much a horse can improve once it comes to hand.

Johnson five-timer big boost to title defence

When you ride three winners in quick succession there is no doubt you’ll be riding better when you go out to try and make it four.

By that stage your mindset is that you can win on anything - whether the horse is any good or not.

Frankie Dettori’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ at Ascot is the perfect example. We were all queuing up behind him early in the straight but Frankie felt he was invincible aboard Fujiyama Crest, and at that particular moment he was.

I once managed to ride 14 winners in four days, which included a seven-timer at Windsor, and obviously my confidence was sky-high and I felt ready to take on the world.

That’s exactly how both Richard Johnson and Jamie Spencer will have felt after completing five-timers recently.

When I went after Paul Hanagan in 2010 - and eventually got beat by one - I was 30 winners behind him at the end of Glorious Goodwood.

Richard has recently cut Harry Skelton’s advantage in the Stobart Jump Jockeys Championship to 20, and I have no doubt he’ll retain his crown.

His current mindset will be that he has to ride one more winner than Harry over the next 20 weeks. He’ll have to be patient, but it’s highly achievable as long as he remains injury-free.

Harry is a very good rider too. He started out with Richard Hannon, so I know him well. It’s a mystery why he doesn’t get more outside rides than he does.

It is highly unusual for a top-class rider to be so successful and yet pick up the tiny number of outside rides that Harry does.

Compelled to tweet like everybody else

Ideally I would prefer not to put up a Twitter or Instagram message after one of our horses has won a race.

I don’t believe that any trainer has ever been sent 20 extra horses as a result of tweeting 20 times a day.

However, everybody is tweeting after a winner nowadays and if you don’t do it you are simply falling behind the times.

The major problem with social media, including Twitter, is the abuse that people get. I joined Twitter during my riding days for a bit of fun.

However, I soon found that jockeys get absolutely hammered on there. Bad-humoured idiots would tweet some extraordinarily unpleasant things about my family, so I had to walk away from it.

At one stage I would walk out of the weighing-room, turn the phone on and be afraid to look at it because of what people might say.

You could ride three winners, and then get torrents of abuse for not riding a fourth. It was ridiculous.

And as much as you try to laugh it off, it most certainly does affect you. It wouldn’t be natural if it didn’t.

I read in the Racing Post last week that several trainers have recently been subjected to abusive tweets.

It’s a major modern-day problem, and doesn’t surprise me at all.