My goals for the Flat season will be the same as usual: ride as many winners as I can and stay in one piece.
I missed the second half of last year after breaking my back but, touch wood, I’ve healed up really well and it is giving me no jib at all. I’m in the gym four or five times a week and feel great.
The season begins to really get going for us northern boys from now on and I’m getting plenty of rides.
I don’t set myself specific targets in terms of winners - I’ve been riding almost 20 years now and sometimes you can ask for too much.
I just want to stay fit and well, plus ride as well as I can. So much can change so quickly in terms of injuries, the weather, and it goes without saying the horses in the stables that you are riding for have got to be healthy.
One thing it would be nice to achieve this year is to reach 1,000 British winners.
I’ve ridden more than that worldwide but I’m on 986 in Britain and so am closing in on four figures.
It’s a number I’m proud of, not least because when I started off I thought I’d do well to ride out my 7lb claim!
I rode my first winner for Pat Haslam just before my 19th birthday and I’m 37 on Monday. I’d imagine some kind of celebration should I get to 1,000, but we will worry about if and when we get there.
Lady Kermit a smart spare to pick up:
It may be Good Friday tomorrow but it’s just another day to us jockeys.
I’ve got three rides on the all-weather at Newcastle, which is a great track and has already featured some really nice horses, not least Enable.
You have to stay well at Newcastle because it’s a long straight and there is a climb in the last furlong.
Lady Kermit is a great spare ride to pick up in the opening 5f Ladbrokes Home of the Odds Boost Fillies' Conditions Stakes.
She looked really smart when winning by six lengths on her debut at Kempton and her 3lb penalty is offset by her experience.
The horse she thumped at Kempton, Bettys Hope, was beaten on the bob at Beverley yesterday in a race where I was a close third on Birdie Bowers. The last-named ran a blinder and will improve a hell of a lot, but more of him another day.
Lady Kermit is trained by Archie Watson and, although it’s a brave shout, I can see him being champion trainer in the next five to ten years.
He’s very hungry, places his horses well and gets winners – it’s a simple as that. He’s a trainer going places.
Chosen World is another good ride in the 7f sunracing.co.uk Handicap.
He did very well at Newcastle over the winter – winning three times over course and distance – and last time was a good half-length second to Tiercel.
The race was not run to suit him on that occasion. There wasn’t much pace on and he went with the choke out. I’m hoping for a bit more pace and if it’s a truer-run race I fancy he will be able to turn the tables on the winner, who he meets again on 2lb better terms.
I ride Pogo in the Listed Ladbrokes Burradon Stakes.
It's good race with good prize-money and it’s nice to get ride in it for Charlie Hills.
I don’t know a lot about the horse and I’d be more hopeful than anything. There are few in there who you just would not know how good they are.
Up for the Cup with Final Venture on Saturday:
I’ve got another three rides at Musselburgh on Saturday, including Final Venture in the feature race, the Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap.
He’s been a grand horse over the years, and still has a lot of ability on his day. He’s won off higher marks in past and Paul Midgley’s horses are flying.
His draw in 17 will either be very good or very bad. If you get boxed in on rail you can need a bit of luck.
It’s a fast five furlongs at Musselburgh but I find it quite a hard place to make the running. They tend go too fast and in general it suits a horse coming from off the pace.
Tim Easterby’s horses are running well and that gives me encouragement for Parys Mountain in the Silver Arrow Handicap.
He’s a nice horse who has won around York and I fancy the track will suit him. I’m expecting a big run from him.
Finally, I partner Gowanbuster in the second division of the racingtv.com Handicap.
I’ve won twice on him in the past and he won well at Newcastle the last day.
He’s gutsy and wears his heart on his sleeve – he won well under me at Newcastle the last day.
It’s a competitive little race but he’s quite unexposed on grass and fingers crossed he will give me a good spin.
Excited for Egan:
Egan shone on Qabala in the Nell Gwyn on Tuesday
The highlight of the Classic trials, for me, was seeing David Egan win on Qabala in Nell Gwyn.
It’s lovely to see a good young lad like him coming through the ranks and it’s great to see Roger giving him a chance.
David gave the filly a nice, cool ride and didn’t panic. He now has a leading chance on her in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas - good for him.
Skardu was also quite impressive in coming from way off the pace in the Craven.
He’s in the right hands and, as I’ve touched on in this column before, William Haggas and James Doyle are a potent partnership. They really click.
De Sousa and Murphy hold the aces:
The bookmakers make the jockeys’ championship a straight match between Silvestre Sousa and Oisin Murphy and that’s the way I see it, too.
Both are great jockeys who are riding very well for big stables. Between them they are going to ride a lot of winners.
The pair of them have a terrific work ethic and I wouldn’t like to choose between them. May the best man win.
I just hope the pair of them stay below Donny for most of the year!