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Happy New Year!

19 Dec 2014

Hey everyone. Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog! I’ve been over in Dubai over two months now and have just about settled into the new routine.

Hi everyone. Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog! 

I’ve been over in Dubai over two months now and have just about settled into the new routine. I’m enjoying the lifestyle, but it was quite strange at first as there’s lots of free days and it’s a case of trying to find things to occupy your free time.

On a normal day I’m riding out at 5am, riding three lots and being finished on days when there’s no racing by 7.30am. Let’s just say I have done lots of swimming and it has also been good to catch up on the show jumping over here. I don’t find time during the summer, but this is something I really enjoy and the Emirati people are getting into it in a big way. It’s been good to follow the progress of my mate Bertram Allen, who I used to jump ponies with. He’s now ranked 15 in the world and is probably one of the best young riders Ireland has ever produced. 

It’s been a great experience coming over to ride for Dhubra Selvaratnam. He’s such a well-regarded trainer and has trained plenty of Group 1 winners. Lots of British trainers don’t run their horses during the winter and I think the only way to really get noticed is to ride abroad. I definitely think that I did the right thing and it was a relief to get the monkey off my back and ride my first winner aboard Momaris at Jebel Ali. It just motivates you harder to get the next one!

I’ve ridden at all four courses over here now but it’s been slightly hard adjusting as there are only eight thoroughbred races a week. The tracks have been pretty simple to master, though, as they’re big, galloping tracks. Every race has plenty of pace and the fittest horse normally comes out on top. The dirt at Meydan is tightening up and although I’ve not had much experience of riding on dirt, I would say that it rides more like Southwell than any other artificial surface I’ve ridden on. It rides quite deep and the final furlong is always the slowest.

It was an awful pity that I was unable to attend the Lester’s before Christmas. I was nominated for the Champion Apprentice award for both 2013 and 2014 but we were racing here on Boxing Day which made it impossible to get back. My family were very proud that I picked up the 2014 award, though, and it was a very happy moment for my agent Sara Metcalfe, who collected the award for me. She has a very small book of myself, David Probert, Thomas Brown and Callum Shepherd, but she was also responsible for helping David become champion apprentice as well. I know it’s hard to please everybody but I just think the ceremony is too close to Christmas for most people. I heard that it was a great night from all the lads, though!

As for my Christmas it was a very sedate one with us racing on Boxing Day. Dhruba very kindly organised for us to all have Christmas dinner at the Atlantis Hotel, which was great.

There’s quite a few of us British jockeys over here and I have been hanging about mainly with Marco Botti’s apprentice Daniel Muscutt, before he recently went to ride in Australia, and Louis Steward. I haven’t been lonely that’s for sure!    

One of the best experiences so far has been meeting my boxing hero, Amir Khan. My uncle and auntie have been over here staying in the Grosvenor Hotel on the Marina, which is quite a posh hotel with lots of jacuzzis that I enjoy using. I was leaving the other day and I couldn’t believe it was him – but I knew it was once he opened his mouth after I’d asked him for a photo! He was an Olympic medal winner at 17 and you just have to admire someone who has reached the very top of his sport. He’s so fast and very good to watch. I mean there’s nothing worse than watching those heavyweight boxers slugging the crap out of each other! 

This weekend I have four rides at Meydan and think my best chance is Canwinn in the mile handicap. He’s back down to a mark he can win off.

I’m looking forward to riding at the Carnival – but even more so, I can’t wait to return home and get back to riding six horses a day and teaming up with some of the many exciting prospects that Sheikh Fahad has for the year. Just riding the second strings is going to be such an exciting opportunity. 

HORSE TO FOLLOW: Saayer

Former William Haggas-trained winner of the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He wants six furlongs and should have a listed race in him this winter. He’s due to run again at Meydan in the next couple of weeks.