Whilst the weekend flat cards were being pummelled by this never ending rain we seem to be experiencing, turning the turf into something that closely resembled a quagmire (giggity giggity!), both National Hunt cards had the luxury of racing on Good ground!! Yes, you did read that correct – GOOD GROUND! The earth really seems to be off its axis this summer!
The cards at Southwell and Stratford may not have been up to much in the way of quality but I’m always of the opinion something can be gleamed from even the most average of meetings; regardless of the level of racing it always pays to keep your eyes and ears open.
So with that though in mind here is my, slightly different, NTF 1 to follow from the weekend –
NTF Jockey watch – Micheal Nolan (7lb)
The young Irishman had 2 rides at Southwell on Sunday; an unseating in the 2m4f Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Chase and a 3rd placed finish aboard the superbly named ‘The Wee Midget’ in division 2 of the 3m Handicap Hurdle. There were 4 runners in contention turning for home in the 3m hurdle – The Wee Midget ridden by Micheal Nolan as well as the mounts of Jason Maguire, Richie McClernon and Richard Johnson. The Wee Midget travelled supremely well for most of the contest and as the runners battled it out up the home-straight you would have been hard pushed to tell it was a young conditional fighting it out against a trio of established and top-class jockeys, such is the composure and confidence that Nolan appears to exude from the saddle.
This wasn’t the first time Nolan had caught my eye this summer as he had already came to my attention when riding the Susan Gardner trained Southway Star, on whom the jockey is now 3 from 3 on.If you are yet to see the young jockey in action then take a look at his ride on Southway Star at Uttoxeter last time out (10/07/12) and in particular his lack of panic when the mare made a serious blunder around the half-way point; there is plenty of suggestion there that he is a young lad with a cool head on him.
After his ride on The Wee Midget yesterday I decided to do a bit of digging on the lad to see what I could uncover. Here is a brief summary –
- He made his Irish rules debut back in the 2007/8 season and has since picked up a number of rides for some of the smaller yards
- He made his rules debut this side of the Irish Sea in 2010/11 where he picked up a couple of rides for Welsh based trainer Dia Burchill
- He was the Champion Novice Point to Point rider in the 2010/11 season
- He is now based with Philip Hobbs as a conditional jockey
The fact that Philip Hobbs has confidence enough in him to take him on as a conditional speaks volumes and the switch to riding on this side of the Irish sea has clearly benefited him as he has already ridden more winner in 3 seasons here (9) than he did in 5 seasons in Ireland (3). It is no easy task becoming Champion Novice Point to Point rider and the confidence he gained in achieving that success looks to have followed him into the rules sphere.
He has started the 2012/13 season in grand fashion with his figures to date making for healthy reading –
7/24 | 29% S/R | +£3.30 BFLSP – Win & Place 11/24 | 46% S/R
He is sure to learn plenty being connected to the Hobbs yard and even at this early stage of his career he is managing to pick up a healthy number of outside rides.
He looks a pretty stylish jockey in the making and he could well prove excellent value for his 7lb claim; make sure you keep young Micheal Nolan firmly on your National Hunt radar.
ps. The Wee Midget (whom Nolan rode at Southwell yesterday) looks well handicapped and potentially ready to find his way back to the winners enclosure.
Happy ‘summer’ Punting!
Ben – (NTF)