©© Photo Healy Racing
It would have been hard to call the season disappointing after the amount of winners we had but there definitely would have been a tinge of disappointment had the boss, Jessie Harrington, and I not managed to round off all those two-year-old fillies’ winners especially with a Group 1.
We knew we had a nice bunch from the start of the season but obviously you could never have predicted getting 28 two-year-old winners in a season, with hopefully some more to come still.
I couldn’t have asked for a better start as first jockey to Jessie. The recent Group 1s in Newmarket and Longchamp have crowned it and we’re back at Newmarket on Friday with Cayenne Pepper in the Fillies’ Mile chasing another.
I have won the Irish 2000 and 1000 Guineas but it definitely meant a lot to ride a Group 1 winner outside of Ireland. I think Irish jockeys aren’t used enough in England. They don’t see us. It was only in the last seven or eight years Pat Smullen started getting the recognition he should have been getting for 20.
With Albigna at Longchamp on Sunday, the day that was in it with Enable going for the third Arc made it very, very special. I never witnessed an atmosphere like it and there was a sense of deflation when she got collared. It was like a balloon burst, although mine wasn’t to be burst by that stage!
There was a real buzz about the place from early on and cantering back down in front of the stands after winning the Prix Marcel Boussac was an unreal feeling.
She’s a filly that likes to find her feet early. She was probably fresh in the Moyglare, and she was in season. She was keen and got warm and that’s not her. So we knew that wasn’t her true running.
She showed in France what she can do when she does switch off and races behind the bridle and it was very exciting.
We always knew what Albigna could do at home. Millisle only breezes at home so we had no idea. We were getting ready to run her early in the year but any time we stepped up the work, she backed out a bit. She wasn’t able for it.
So Jessie made the decision to undercook her, not work her and run her. SeÃ¡n Byrne breezes her at home. The only time I’ve ever ridden her since March, when we thought she’d be nearly our first runner, is on the track. The change in approach has worked and she has improved day-in, day-out.
We went for the Cheveley Park hoping she would be placed but again, because we do so little with her, we didn’t know. She flew home and did it well in the end. It was a real thrill.
Cayenne Pepper is in good shape ahead of Friday. She had her last little breeze on Monday morning. She’s going as well as can be. I’ve loved her from day one. She’s so straightforward. You can do anything with her. She’s had to do the donkey work the last two times but it’s no problem because she settles. Her form is strong, the trip and track should be ideal. We’re hoping the ground isn’t soft but she’s in very good order.
Albigna was a win-and-you’re-in for the Breeders’ Cup but that decision will be made by Jessie and the Niarchos family. It would be a great thrill to be involved but there is nothing to prove this year from what she’s done and next year will be the main one.
That applies to all of them. None of them come off the bridle at home and they’ll never be tested against one another so it’s hard to know which of them is the best but it’s lovely to have them. It will make the winter a short one and on the law of averages, seven or eight of them could be destined for better things next year.