Welcome to the Flat season and I am delighted to be back with my weekly Racing TV column.
I have never felt better and am raring to go this year, especially after the back injury I suffered in July, which ruled me out for the rest of the season.
I think I am addicted to exercise. I have been going to Jack Berry house most days, and I am very grateful for all their support. If I am not working out or doing circuits there, then I’m at the local boxing club.
I probably could have made it back for the tail-end of last season, but I felt I didn’t want to push my body unnecessarily and risk not being 100 per cent.
I thought it wiser to make sure I was fully recovered and really attack 2019, and I am glad I made that decision.
I have been ticking over on the all-weather at Newcastle and Southwell and, at the time of writing, I am 14 winners away from my 1000th winner, which is an achievement I will be proud of.
I can’t wait to get back aboard Mabs Cross:
Mabs Cross landed the Prix de l'Abbeye last season
I want to stay fit and healthy this year and ride as many winners as possible and, of course, I am very much looking forward to being reunited with Cartier Champion sprinter, Mabs Cross.
She went from strength to strength last season, finishing third in the King’s Stand, a nose second in the Nunthorpe and then victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye.
I was not on board for those last two races and people ask whether it’s difficult watching someone else on her, but I was delighted to see her do so well. I am part of the Michael Dods operation, and her success was a real team effort, which everyone could enjoy.
She’s done really well this winter, looks bigger and stronger and seems in great form. She will probably get started next month and follow a similar path to last year.
It should be an exciting season for her.
Que Amoro has a great chance at Thirsk:
I have got a few rides at Thirsk on Saturday. Michael runs a couple of two-year-olds, Road Rage and Sparkling Breeze, in both divisions of the British EBF Maiden Stakes. Both have been working nicely but will definitely come on for the experience.
The one I will single out is Que Amoro, who runs in the Racing TV Home Of British & Irish Racing Handicap.
She won a couple of races last year before finishing eighth in the Two-year-old Trophy. She is a filly we have always thought a bit of and has been working nicely. We are expecting a big run from her.
Youmzain my pick in the Greenham:
It is a shame we won’t see Too Darn Hot in the Greenham, but it still looks a decent trial for the 2,000 Guineas.
A horse who impressed me last year was Hello Youmzain, who was a very comfortable winner of a Group Two in France on his third and latest start in October.
He likes juice in the ground and would be my likeliest idea of a winner.
I wish Fran a happy retirement:
Finally, I wanted to say good luck to Fran Berry, who recently announced his retirement from the saddle.
It is a shame injury forced him to call it a day, but you know he will be a success at whatever he turns his hand to. I see he’s going to do some work for Racing TV, and his insight will be a great addition to the channel.
Fran was a very good rider, the ultimate professional, and is an absolute gentleman and was always the first person we went to if any of us were feeling unwell as he always had a bag of remedies for every kind of headache and cold!