I've always had great confidence in myself. I'm not an arrogant person, I would never brag about what I've won because I see it all as something that's happened in the past. But from day one I always believed that I could do this, although I would never have discussed it with anyone. I never ever doubted it for one moment. Even when I was in my first four years, which were very moderate, I never lost the belief that I was going to make it as a jockey. In sport, or in any walk of life, if you don't believe in yourself, why should someone else?
My addiction to winning is stronger than I could ever explain. I suppose it's like a drug. It's my fix in life, it's what makes me happier than anything else. I'd love to go racing every day and win every race but realistically that's not possible, so there are going to be ups and downs. The important thing is to make sure that you're up more than you're down.
The joy you get from winning is where the motivation comes from. I've been lucky enough since I've been in England to be champion jockey for the last 15 years, so I've never let myself get in the position where I can take it easy. Because if I do that, there's a chance I might not be champion jockey. So I'm always on the edge, I'm always trying to keep ahead. It's not a case of being able to go missing for a couple of months and drift back in again.
Eve, my little girl, will be three this month. You hear a lot of talk about people in dangerous sports who think if they get married and have a kid they'll take their eye off the ball, they'll ease down, have a different outlook on life. But it hasn't changed my life in any respect other than it makes the bad days better when I come home. Before Eve came along or before I was married, if I hadn't won a race I would come home at night and sit and sulk and not want to speak to anyone. Now Eve has come along I can come home at night and as soon as she hears me open the door and put the keys down, she comes running up to me roaring with laughter. She doesn't care how bad a day I've had, she doesn't want to know, she wants me to laugh at her and to play with her. And that helps you forget the downer you've had earlier in the day. For a while at least.
I'm five foot ten and a half, so my normal body weight would be around 12 stone. I keep my weight to around ten stone four, and the lightest I've been down to is ten stone. It's probably the worst part of my job. My weight is something I have to maintain, because if I can't maintain my weight, I can't do my job. So it's not a case of leaving it until tomorrow, I have to do it. If I'm going racing and I've got a weight to reach, I have to lose the weight, even if that means suffering and being in pain. I get on the treadmill for half an hour with all the sweat gear on. Then after that I have a hot bath for an hour. I could lose five or six pounds in that session. I've got out of a hot bath and lain on the floor in the bathroom crying at times.
A normal person couldn't get into the hot bath that I get into for an hour and stand up afterwards but my body and mind are trained to it. I've got a brilliant job that I love doing and it's part of my life, so I don't want sympathy for it. I wish I was a bit smaller and a bit lighter, but I'm not. When I'm having a bad day, I think about the guy on the building site. Let's put things into perspective - I could be doing a much tougher job.
I've broken my ankle, my leg, my arm, my wrist, my lower vertebrae, my middle vertebrae, both shoulder blades, both collar bones and both cheek bones. So I have metal in my leg, my arm, my wrist and my back. I've always thought that when I have a fall, no matter how hard I get hit or how many horses fall on me, I'm always going to get up. That doesn't make sense because I've been in an ambulance more times than most people. But even after I broke my back and I was lying on the ground and my lower body was numb, all I wanted to do was get back for Cheltenham, which was in eight weeks time. I've never had any fear. I'm a realist. I know I do a dangerous job and I'm going to break whatever I'm going to break and I know I'm going to end up in an ambulance sometimes.
I've cried when a horse I've been riding has had to be put down. You get attached to the horses. They're part of your job, they're what make you successful. So you get close to them. I always say that horses are like humans, although racehorses today are like very fortunate humans because of the treatment they get. Nowadays racehorses are trained like athletes. They have the best facilities, they get fed all the best dietary products, they get the best exercise, they have swimming pools, they have physios, they have grooms. If I was coming back in another life, I'd love to come back as a racehorse because they get so well looked after. But rightly so, because they give us so much enjoyment.
Winning the Grand National was an amazing feeling because it's such a huge sporting event. From a public perspective it's probably the biggest horse race in the world. It was the greatest high I've had in my life.
My ambition is always to be champion jockey and if there's ever a chance that I won't be champion jockey then I won't be riding. I'm very conscious of successful sportspeople who carry on too long and stop being successful. So if I ever see a slight decline, I won't be doing it any longer, although it will absolutely break my heart the day I can't ride horses. Who knows what I'll do? I know that whatever it is, it won't make me as happy as riding horses does. I'm going to be one of those sad people who'll have to give up doing something he enjoys more than anything else. I'm intelligent enough to know I can't go on forever, but it will kill me to stop. I'll think about it when it comes...
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