In his exclusive blog, the defending champion flat jockey previews the action at Newmarket this weekend
The jockeys’ championship starts again at Newmarket on Saturday. It was a real thrill to win it last year and we’ll see if I’m in a position to go for it again halfway through the season.
This is my 10th year over here and I really enjoy the British style of riding. It’s a bit more relaxed than it is in South America where it’s similar to the US – all about speed and getting your position quickly.
I came over in 2006 and started up north with Dandy Nicholls, before a spell with Mark Johnston. It’s been a long journey to get to where I am today, but it’s been very enjoyable and each year it’s got better and better.
I rode for 55 individual trainers last season and had winners for all of them. It all comes down the opportunities you get and the quality of the horses you ride at the end of the day.
I ride Master The World in the opener (2.00pm). He was second in the Cambridgeshire last season and, although he’s got top weight, he’s very consistent in these big handicaps.
He was supposed to start off in the Betway Lincoln but the wet weather scuppered those plans. The better the ground rides, the better his chance.
There are 22 runners in the Palace House (2.30pm) and I’m on Sir Maximilian for Ian Williams.
If he can return to the form that saw him win at Meydan a couple of starts back, he must have a chance. However, it’s a wide open sprint and we’ll need things to go our way.
He has won at Newmarket before which is a positive.
Whitman (4.20pm) is top weight for a reason in the Harbour Watch Handicap, as he won three times last season.
All those successes came on a sound surface and he didn’t seem to relish the rain-softened ground on his final run, so any more rain would be a worry.
It’s his first run of the season too, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
Montsarrat (5.30pm) is another nice ride for Mark Johnston and he has the benefit of already having had a race this season.
He will have improved for that and I’m hopeful he can go well in what looks another competitive race.
I don’t have a ride in the 2000 Guineas. Air Force Blue is surely going to be very hard to beat. I know there’s been some rain, but his form is better than everything else in the line-up.
As for his biggest danger, I think it could be Frankie Dettori’s horse, Galileo Gold. He looks like the one most likely to serve it up to the favourite.
I’ve got a nice book of rides on Sunday.
My first is on Oasis Fantasy (1.50pm) for Ed Dunlop. I haven’t ridden him before, but he’s got some fairly solid form even though he’s only won two races.
He’s wearing first time blinkers so hopefully they will do the trick, but it looks a really tough race to win. Ed Dunlop’s horses are in great form too so that is another big plus.
Arabian Queen returns in the Dahlia Stakes (2.25pm). She gave me one of the best days of my career when she won the Juddmonte International last summer, beating Golden Horn.
She’s been in good form at home and I’m looking forward to getting back on her in a race. Another positive is that she did win well first time up last season, hopefully she can do it again.
That said, when you take on horses with the class of Amazing Maria it’s hard to be confident.
Justice Good (3.00pm) was a very smart two-year-old and is still pretty high in the handicap as a consequence.
He ran here earlier in the month, so will have fitness on his side and should be there or thereabouts.
There’s a big field for the 1000 Guineas (3.40pm) where I ride Robanne, who ran really well in the Nell Gwyn to finish third.
She’s an interesting outsider and more rain wouldn’t be a problem, it would actually help her. In fact, she’s one of the only fillies that wants soft ground.
Aidan O’Brien saddles three really nice fillies headed by Minding. You have to respect all three, but I’ve got a soft spot for Ballydoyle who I think is very special.
Australian Queen (4.50pm) won her maiden well back in February. This requires a big step up, but she does have an Oaks entry.
My final ride of the day is a rare one for Roger Charlton – I think I’ve only ridden once for him before.
It’s great to be asked to ride Chester Street (5.25pm) who won his maiden at Kempton and gets in off a low weight.