AINTREE STEWARDS LACKED COMMON SENSE
There’s always a feel-good factor after the Grand National but not this year because 39 of us 40 riders that took part were left feeling very aggrieved by the high-handed attitude of the raceday stewards.
The whole issue revolved around the fact that we lined up six seconds too early and that’s why 39 of us were called in after the race.
It had nothing to do with the false start whatsoever. When the starter released the tape and told us we were off the tape didn’t clear the field and a couple of riders were caught up in it.
That’s nothing to do with us, that’s simply a malfunction of the equipment and not the fault of any of the riders.
The reason we were before the stewards was that we anticipated the start and formed a line six seconds early, not that we charged the tape.
We were told unofficially that we were getting a two-day suspension and any ban would not, in our opinion, have been justified let alone one that took in the busy Easter programme.
Every one of the 39 jockeys felt extremely aggrieved about the heavy-handed way in which the situation was handled and for that reason we felt it inappropriate to return to the stewards room when called.
Before the race all of us had made a collective effort to do everything possible to make sure that the preliminaries and the start of the race went as smoothly as possible.
It seemed to us that in the aftermath no common sense was applied and if ever there was an example of a sledgehammer cracking a nut, then this was it.
I think that as a group of sportsmen us jump jockeys could never be described as prima donnas and we always try to conduct ourselves in the best interests of the industry.
There were men in that field who have won all the great races in the jumping calendar but they were treated like school kids.
There should be absolutely no confusion about what the inquiry was over. It was the premature six seconds and nothing more.
Someone gave me some wise words recently when they said that these days common sense isn’t quite so common.
FOUR WINS ENSURED A SUCCESSFUL FESTIVAL ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
As for the rest of the meeting, well, I haven’t got anything to complain about ending up leading rider with four winners - and they were four horses with their careers ahead of them.
JOSSES HILL ATR Tracker was the first of them winning the Grade 2 Top Novices’ Hurdle over two miles on Friday in the style of a very smart horse. I don’t think you’ve seen the best of him because he wasn’t 100 per cent going into Cheltenham when he ran well and I got the feeling this time that he still wasn’t travelling as smoothly as he could. For that reason I think he is a horse with a big future over two miles.
MA FILLEULE ATR Tracker gave me a breathtaking ride to win the Topham Chase - she was just so brave everywhere she went. She just got longer and longer and gave the fences no respect but she got away with it in some style. High octane stuff but she’d need to switch off if she were to stay the National trip.
BEAT THAT ATR Tracker is still immature but it didn’t stop him winning the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over three miles like a good horse. I was sweet on him going into the race. Every option is open to him next season and I have no doubt he has a big future.
WHISPER ATR Tracker put in a terrific performance to win the Grade 1 Silver Cross Stayers' Hurdle over three miles because he got quite warm beforehand. For that reason he didn’t jump as well as he can in the early part of the race but he showed great guts. Whichever route he takes next season he’s one to follow. Has a big engine.
OSCAR WHISKY ATR Tracker just caught a couple of fences going down the back in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles. He was jumping well enough early but just got caught out when the pace quickened - it was the fastest he’d been in a chase. Next season will be a good one.
O'FAOLAINS BOY ATR Tracker was just a bit flat in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase on Friday and I’ve little doubt that his hard race to win at Cheltenham just took the edge off him. He jumped better but didn’t travel so easy.
TRIOLO D’ALENE ATR Tracker found the ground too soft in the Crabbie’s Grand National - must have it really good. He got in when he won the Topham last year and when he won the Hennessy Gold Cup but not this time.
SOME TIKKET ATR Tracker was trained to perfection by Dessie Hughes to win the two-mile novices’ handicap chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Although he’d be better over further he was helped by the slower ground which brought in stamina.
LE VENT D’ANTAN ATR Tracker is still a bit immature and also happened to bump a very smart one when second to Lieutenant Colonel in the two and a half mile grade two novice hurdle. He’d appreciate better ground than that, too. The winner might be very good.
UN DE SCEAUX ATR Tracker was very good winning at Auteuil the weekend before last. He paid the price at the finish for going as hard as he did early. It was also his first try at two and a half miles so it was a great performance from a five-year-old. He’s got a grand future and will make it interesting if he lines up at Punchestown for the Champion Hurdle back at two miles.