Hello everybody. Right! We are well into the new year now so I hope you all have been keeping to your new year's resolutions. Or maybe you're like me - "You don't make them, so then you can't break them!"
Thankfully I have had a great start to the new year. I've had four winners in the first three week of January, and for the second time in two years, I was lucky enough to win the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton for Nick Williams. This year's win came on board Swincombe Flame, who as you may remember from my last blog, is the horse I won on at Wincanton on Boxing Day. She is a very good mare who is going the right way and definitely a one to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.
In winning the Lanzarote I unfortunately picked up a seven day ban and lost my share of the prize money for my use of the whip. It was a very close finish to the race and when we past the line it took the judge a couple of minutes to call the result, so when he said: "Your winner is number 19" I was so thrilled. I felt I had given Swincombe Flame a very good ride to win by a nose - after she lost her back legs on landing over the last, she dug really deep and battled the whole way to the line for me. At the time I hadn't realised I'd gone over our allocated use of the whip (eight times) and it wasn't until l went into the stewards room for the enquire that I could see I had gone over by two and that one had landed short. It really put a damper on what 20 minutes earlier felt like a great day.
As jockeys we all love horses and I don't know a jockey that would ever purposefully harm a horse. We are all trying very hard to stick to these new rules but the punishments for minor infringements are very harsh. It is virtually impossible to count how many time you have used your whip in a race, especially when you get competitive in a finish and I think having the use of the whip halved was a very unrealistic target. I really do hope things can get sorted out soon as I feel people are losing faith in our wonderful sport, after all it is The Sport Of Kings.
Hopefully in my next blog I'll be talking about horses I'm looking forward to seeing and maybe riding at Cheltenham in March. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask me, on here or on Twitter, I'm @WTKJockey."