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17th April 2016

It has been a week...since the Crabbies Grand National..My thoughts..

I can only say I was exhausted by last Sunday night..And I did not win.

What a very long week. The build up for this years Crabbies Grand National just seemed to go on and on.. was the day ever going to arrive?

It all started back in February when the weights were announced. Things went quiet due to the pressures of The Cheltenham Festival and no sooner had the last race been run on Gold Cup day than the phone started ringing. Media frenzy like nothing I have seen before.

The Last Samuri was fancied and the whole press core seemed to want to be part of him. I was not complaining as I have missed that sort of treatment while without horses good enough to even be mentioned. Enjoy and be helpful was the motto from here.

I think all of the TV channels were down here filming from every conceivable angle and all trying to find that illusive story.Yes it was 26 years since I last won the race and most of those who were here to talk to me weren’t even born. A bit of swatting needed to ask the right questions.I felt like a male model (old) by the time I set off for Aintree last week.

Thursday was the last time I was to see TLS until Saturday and time to put the saddle on. He exercised on Thursday morning and frankly after seeing him nearly run into 3 deer who had decided to join the string while galloping up our all weather I knew it was time to leave. Praying for any form of luck that might remain to keep him from treading on a stone, shy from a bleating lamb or just remaining calm while turned out in his paddock every afternoon.. routine.

Aintree is a fabulous racecourse and Liverpool is a fabulous City. Both make you feel welcome and this year it all seemed brighter and better. Radio interviews and more media and so it went on. No chance to relax and enjoy? Really!

The big day arrived and still we were on course. Phone calls from Mat Nicholls my assistant were like receiving a call from your doctor after a medical. Answered with dread. Morning Line with Alice Plunkett were I was able to see TLS arrive.. he was filmed coming down the ramp without falling off it.

A course walk with friends, followed by lunch. Then it rained and by then I felt the world was against me- why now after such a bright start to the day?

Time to saddle and I decided to saddle in the stables as he used to become very wound up and sweaty when he first arrived with us. He saddled like an old sheep with his head down. I say an old sheep as TLS felt tiny putting that saddle on his back. Blackening his feet to show him off and then out of the stable yard into the parade ring.

Time for the public side of the race. Owners Paul and Clare Rooney being interviewed by Clare Balding and every body smiling and wishing each other luck; the only time of the year when they possibly mean it. Last minute details and then the jockeys arrived, pretend to give instruction (already done well before the race). Time to relax and enjoy the proceedings - like hell.

Leg up jockey and then that's my part done.20 minutes to the end of the race and somebody has to win it, we all wonder.

I watch from the parade ring with Clare and family. Mags O'Toole refused to stand anywhere near me.. Bloody awful place to watch a big race. TV screens too small and the race too far away from the grandstands.

They off. Cigarettes, mints, nails whatever takes your fancy.

Down to the first and when they jump that you feel better. Beechers and still there and great jump. TLS seems to be enjoying himself as does his jockey David Bass and somehow seems to have been able to see strides so far away from the fences that you wonder if he has some electronic guidance on him… Always in the fore we head down to The Chair and he sails over, no mistakes yet and the fences looked small as he was jumping like a Gazelle.

The second circuit and that was the time we said race - too late David had already started as he and TLS were enjoying every moment. Beechers again done in style. Canal Turn likewise and we were right there. Three from home I started to shout (quietly) and then two from home I thought my god we could win this. We jumped the last with two others and I knew he would stay. Shouting started. Could he hear? - no, but who cares. At the elbow we had beaten off one but then I realised we were done and second was were we were going to finish.

The world went mad and there I stood with Clare hugging each other saying what a great race he had run and how proud, what we really said was something completely different but most of what came out of our mouths was not printable.

The winner came in with all the fanfare expected .. no TLS.

Panic that he had collapsed. My phone would not connect and I ran (not good at that) as fast as I could to the vets area and there he was just exhausted, having given his all. He was fine. Relief 

Back for further interviews with Clare Balding. Yes pleased and pleased for his owners Paul and Clare Rooney- try and sound like you are, difficult. I needed space and found it in the Suny Bay room for a very large Whiskey and then home, if only, if only!

Next year everybody said.. is there one really?

We were so proud of our horse, and so proud of my jockey, and so proud of my team.. Yes by Sunday night I was knackered.

Finishing second.. A very lonely place at Aintree.. Try being told you had won the Euro Lottery and then 10 seconds later one number was wrong... Bugger me.. what a race and what a horse..

Well done Mouse Morris you deserved it more than me.. anyway I won the Whitbread with Docklands Express when your Cahervillahow was disqualified.. divine retribution?