I’m thrilled to be succeeding my weighing room colleagues, the two-time champion jockey Paul Hanagan and the ever professional Paul Mulrennan, as the Yorkshire Post Flat racing columnist.
Every Friday, between now and the end of the York Racecourse 2013 season in October, I’ll be offering a perspective from the Weighing Room while endeavouring to highlight the horses that I think are my major chances at the forthcoming fixtures.
Preparations are being made by the trainers for whom I ride ahead of the Dante Festival on Knavesmire.
This is always an exciting time of year as we prepare for the opening races at the premier track in the region and I am aiming to break my duck at the meeting. Before then, I’ll definitely be totting up the motorway miles over the next 36 hours.
I’m at another Roman racecourse, Chester, for the final day of their May showcase this afternoon and then off to Ripon tonight.
Then it’s the M1 for me tomorrow as it is Ascot and Warwick.
The highlight of my weekend will be riding Lightning Cloud in the Betfred Victoria Cup at Ascot at 3.50pm tomorrow.
He was fifth in the corresponding race for me 12 months ago. It is another great opportunity at a racecourse where I won on him as a three-year-old.
Lightning Cloud doesn’t do a lot in front. I probably got there a little bit too soon last year, so I must time my run exactly this time around.
My other ride at Ascot is in the following race, at 4.25pm.
Waking Warrior is a super horse and I won with him on the all-weather surface at Southwell last autumn.
He has since come first at Wolverhampton and I think he could put in a good run in Berkshire.
I’m at the Roodee this afternoon and then back to North Yorkshire for evening racing.
My mount Laffan is drawn well at Chester in the 1.45pm handicap.
A decent draw is all important at the track. He’s fit and ready.
If I can bounce him out of the stalls and get off to a good start, we’d have a chance.
He has four wins from 12 runs in his career, including one on Oaks day for me last June on the Epsom Downs.
I have just over five hours between that race and my first race at Ripon.
Chooseday has been declared for the handicap race at 6.55pm, but will probably only appear if there is some rain.
He missed some work over the winter, so we were pleased with his seasonal debut at Doncaster at the end of March when he was seventh of 18 runners.
My second ride of the evening is Rio’s Rosanna, who is being prepared for an outing at the Dante Festival by West Yorkshire trainer Richard Whitaker.
The mare has winning form at York which is always to be respected and I’m hoping for a big run from her later today which would set us up very nicely for Knavesmire. She’s been working well at home.
Sunday is a day off from race-riding, but I’m still busy. I am away to Gloucestershire to see if I can qualify as an amateur show-jumper for the Horse of the Year Show.
Then thoughts will turn in earnest to the three-day Dante Festival which gets under way on Wednesday.
Running plans are still fluid, but I am hopeful of having quite a few rides during the meeting for my father Kevin Ryan and for Richard Whitaker.
And, as I said before, I’d like to record my first winner at the meeting.
Enjoy the first two days of the Dante Festival.
Next week I’ll offer my thoughts on the prospects for the final day, featuring the Group 2 QIPCO Yorkshire Cup, which is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Racing returns to York Racecourse for the Dante Festival – Wednesday, May 15, Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17.
To book, go to yorkracecourse.co.uk or call 01904 620911. Admission prices range from £5 to £32.
A Group race each day offers six-figure prize money.
The first race time is 1.45pm, with gates open at 11.15am.