TOP JOCKEY NICK SCHOLFIELD WRITES FOR WMN SPORT
I was so pleased for Gary Moore and his family following Sire Du Grugy's win in the BetVictor Tingle Creek at Sandown last Saturday.
It was a shame Sprinter Sacre didn't run, but it made the race much more competitive and the horse was a worthy winner.
Going into a race like that, there's is a lot of pressure for a small-scale trainer, especially when they take on the likes of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, and to win is a huge achievement.
I rode Caid Du Berlais last week at Exeter, where he won the novice chase, and he's as nice a horse as I've ever sat on. He rode like he's jumped a million fences, not as if he was having his first start over fences, and he was so slick. He was foot perfect and it was a faultless chasing debut.
He has bundles of scope. He's been given a quote for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival but Nicholls is mob-handed in that division with the likes of Hinterland, Dodging Bullets and Mr Mole, although Caid Du Berlais is high enough up the pecking order.
Hawkes Point, who is owned by Cornishman Graham Roach, ran a very pleasing race at Chepstow on Saturday. He's an immaculate jumper and you'll probably see him next in the Welsh National running off a very low weight. He's worth remembering.
I think Jack Doyle is very under-rated as a jockey and it was lovely to see him win at Uttoxeter on Tuesday on Victor Dartnall's horse Ut Majeur Aulmes, who looks a great prospect for chasing. Jack and I started riding at the same time, and he's a great friend.
Ryan Mahon rode a good winner at Aintree last Saturday with Rebel Rebellion winning the Grand Sefton, and that was good to see too, as often jockeys will struggle once they lose their claim.
The point-to-point season has started and, although I probably won't get an opportunity to go, it gave me the perfect start to my race-riding career and I'm sure I would not have done so well if I hadn't learned the ropes in the point-to-point ciruit. You can learn so much before you come under the scrutiny of the cameras and armchair jockeys. I rode 30 point-to-point winners, and still hold the record for being the most wins as a novice jockey when I was 17 and won the novice jockey championship.
I came a long way from my first start at Black Forest Lodge when I fell off and broke my collarbone. With hindsight, that was the perfect start too, as it could only get better from there.
I was interested to read in the papers that racing is considered the best value day out, and I couldn't agree more. With bars, hospitality and racing, you get a bit of everything, without the need to concentrate on a football match or rugby game, which renders large parts of the afternoon pretty anti-social.
At the races you can have great banter all afternoon and it has been said a million times before, but the racecard is the perfect ice-breaker to start chart chatting to relative strangers!
Exeter's seven-race card next Thursday, December 19, kicks off at 12.50pm with a free bus leaving Exeter St David's at 11.10am and the bus and coach station 11.25am, returning half an hour after the last race. There are discounts for bookings of ten or more – perfect for a Christmas party.
Racegoers can get 25 per cent off the price of Grandstand and Paddock tickets at Exeter's New Year's Day meeting if booked by Christmas Eve. Simply call the ticket hotline on 08445 793005 or book at www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk and quote NYD2014.