It was obviously pleasing to break into the top 20 most successful British riders of all time earlier in the week but, as I think all sportsmen and women will tell you, the numbers are simply a by-product of the hard work put in by many and I don’t put much store in the milestone myself, if I am being perfectly honest.
The reason I’m doing this piece is to cover the bases as people have been asking me to do interviews and, whilst trying not to sound spoilt and unappreciative, I genuinely don’t see it as anything other than a number, though obviously it was humbling to see people you respect say kind and flattering things about you.
I have been lucky enough to have had a lot of success down the years and been champion jockey here and in Ireland, and ridden Classic winners – and a Cheltenham Festival winner on Pizarro – but I don’t take any of the winners for granted.
As I said earlier, I look forward, and don’t dwell on the past, and riding a filly like Agrotera to win the Sandringham, and seeing her progress from there, is far more important to me than what has gone on before.
I wouldn’t like to be seen as unappreciative – that’s the last thing I would want, in fact – but I have been fortunate and I am also aware that I’m just an undersized human who has carved out a career for himself and got lucky.
Royal Ascot has always been a personal favourite of mine, though obviously winning a Classic has a more lasting resonance, but when I have a big-race winner or a good day, I always think of others in the saddle who have not been so fortunate.
I always seem to reflect back to Kieran Kelly getting killed at Kilbeggan in August 2003, just months after winning at the Cheltenham Festival on Hardy Eustace.
That moment has never left me, and I often think of “Skell”. He, myself, Paul Moloney and Paul Wade lived together when we were setting out and those are the times and memories in life you cherish and treasure, not the numbers.
In the grand scheme of things, what we do, and have done, really isn’t that important.
But, of course, I would like to thank all the people who have helped me get to where I am today, from my first winner as a 15-year-old at Downpatrick in 1995 onwards. My family, weighing room colleagues down the years, agents, trainers and owners I have ridden for; they all know who they are.
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