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Jocking off gets right on my pip!

Mick FitgeraldFirstly, apologies for missing last week….I missed the deadline due to Ron gallivanting off on holiday, it’s just no good is it? What’s a holiday? In racing we don’t get much time for those! Oh and what makes it worse is that Ron is teasing us in the daily newsletter about what a great time he’s having… it’s not on is it??

Due to what I do, my family holiday’s are usually in our wonderful country… as my children are young, the likes of Scarborough and Skegness are great and it also means that I can take my job with me and catch up with the family when time allows.

It is one of the sacrifices us jockey’s agents have to make, I was once told by one of the established agents that we have to give up a lot of family stuff with our job and also that we put a lot in and sometimes get little thanks for it. Oh, and how right he was. I’ll be honest with you though, I really couldn’t wish to work with a better group of people. My team are very understanding and are realistic, however it doesn’t make me feel any better when I get in touch with them to let them know that they haven’t got any rides on a particular day.

As I have mentioned many times before, getting rides is very competitive and more so now than ever so it’s very frustrating when having got someone a ride that they lose it on the morning of the races because another jockey has become available due to a non runner.

This happened to us yesterday at Catterick when Kirsty was jocked off due to Graham Gibbons horse not running and whilst you can appreciate that owner’s and trainer’s may have their preference of jockey, I feel that the whole issue of replacing a jockey is abused without having any thought of the rider originally booked.

I “tweeted” this yesterday and I was pleased that Paul Struthers agreed with me and I hope that maybe the PJA will do something about it. Whilst the said race at Catterick was worth a paltry £2385.95 to the winner and Kirsty would have come away with her percentage of £704.55 (if she finished second on Goadby, as indeed Gibbo did!) I have to say I felt for young George Challoner at the weekend when he was given the elbow on Heaven’s Guest due to Ryan Moore becoming available. Richard Fahey’s charge won the £93,375.00 Betfred Cup at Ascot which would have given his apprentice the biggest win of his fledgling career so far. Not only would his cut of the prize money have been much appreciated, but the headlines he would of received for winning would only of helped his career, in a similar way to the Ayr Gold Cup win helped young Oisin Murphy.

Whilst I appreciate Ryan Moore is one hell of a rider and as I’ve said before, racing is probably the only sport in the world that you can have a sports person of different levels of ability yet pay the same fee… so an owner is always going to want the best they can get. In my opinion though, it is wrong… for one, if I was owning a horse and asked for Ryan Moore but he couldn’t ride for whatever reason and then got fixed up, I wouldn’t jock my rider off on the morning of the race, just because his had been pulled out.
Maybe it is just me and my principles but in the case of Heaven’s Guest I just feel that there was no loyalty shown to the young lad. Hopefully he will get similar opportunities in the future but you can’t help but feel sorry for the lad.

As I have said I have a great team of rider’s but the reality is where as my jockey’s will usually ride between ten and forty winner’s a year, we are competing against rider’s that are riding winners into three figures on an annual basis and trainer’s will chose the likes of Hughes, Moore and SDS ahead of us.

Mick Fitzgerald’s comments made me laugh when he spoke on Channel Four Racing about the jockey change. He said that an agent’s job is to get his jockey on the best horse possible – yes, that is correct but that job is usually done on the morning of declaration.

I know that there have been many mixed views regards Channel Four Racing since the power’s that be changed things, more negative than positive. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Big Mac wins his court battle with them and gets reinstated, we may well end up with Fitzgerald or Cunningham head back to ATR or RUK. Fitz was a bloody good jockey, but I personally can’t do with him on the TV, particularly when they are covering flat racing.

In my last lot of scribbling’s I mentioned the Balding school of apprentices and what a cracking read we were treated to in today’s Racing Post by Lee Mottershead. It gives us such a great look at how the lads at Kingsclere are taught and looked after.

Apprentices have been in the news again this week, for the wrong reason’s unfortunately… Lee Topliss made the headlines this week, albeit not “the” Lee Topliss but the failed apprentice Steven Corrigan impersonating Lee as he ripped footy manager Harry Redknapp off over a period of time. Again, this shows just how you have to watch your back at times in our wonderful sport, there is always someone looking to rip someone off.

I don’t know Corrigan personally but I know of him and he has a reputation of ripping people off and whether you know him or not, you have to say he’s got some cheek, not only for ripping Harry off but for the way he has glorified what he did in one of the “red tops”, where I am sure he will have pocketed more money for doing so. Yet another warning of the shark’s that swim in racing’s circles I’m afraid!

Darren Egan was on the front page of the Racing Post today as it was announced he was under investigation and as a result the BHA weren’t licensing him to ride. Darren has proved to be a talented, if luckless lad (Injury surely cost him the apprentice title last season) and this six week enforced absence hasn’t helped him as he was in contention for this year’s apprentice title.
Surely if he hasn’t been found guilty of anything he should be allowed to make a living until a hearing? I know that there is an on going enquiry but until he is found guilty or cleared he should be allowed to make a living. I know when Kirsty was found not guilty following her appeal it had cost her a fortune in legal fees so the lad should be able to make a living to pay his way.

Talking of apprentices, I was pleased to be asked by the Quinn’s to take on their new apprentice Joe Doyle. Joe is only 17 but he has a future, he started out on the pony racing circuit, which provides many of Ireland’s good young rider’s a good grounding and gives them experience of race riding too. Joe had a total of 65 winners that included the 2011 Dingle Derby, whilst operating on the pony racing circuit he was also a regular at Ballydoyle where he rode out for Aidan O’Brien…so you can see the lad has had a great foundation before starting his apprenticeship with Charlie Swan.

He has had six winner’s since becoming an apprentice in Ireland, with two of those coming here from a handful of rides since joining John Quinn. He can claim his allowance off bottom weight and as a result I was pleased to get him a ride in the Cesarewitch this weekend on Los Nadis for Jim Goldie. It’s a shame he’s come over so late in the season but all being well I can get him a few rides over the winter and put his name around for the start of the 2014 flat season.

Tonight, Hayley Turner “tweeted” that she had fractured her back in her nasty spill at Doncaster but it has only come to light in the last day or two. This has come off the back of Micky Fenton breaking his neck recently at Chepstow following a fall, that too wasn’t detected by the hospital either and he was sent home.
I know he was told he would be back after a few days rest so thank God he didn’t come back early because if he had come off, he could have been killed.
The BHA make enough money from the sport so maybe it’s time that they started installing x-ray machines on courses so that the racecourse doctor’s have access to them so they can diagnose injuries on track.

Looking at the weekend, SHYRON looks to have a great chance of following up his recent CandD win in the 6.50 at Wolverhampton. I was at Dunstall Park last week and he won with a good bit in hand last week to suggest he will follow up.
Another two year old that should be following up a recent win is LAWYER in the 8.20 race, I put this up last time and it was punted from 7-2 the night before into 8-11 and won despite everything possible going wrong. The extra distance should help and with a trouble free passage should follow up.

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