Aidan Coleman: The prestige of winning something like the National would be just unbelievable

 

Aidan Coleman: The prestige of winning something like the National would be just unbelievable

Q How exciting is it to be going into the National with a big chance?

Very exciting. It’s one of the biggest races of the year, arguably the biggest. It’s great to even be part of it but when you’ve got such a good ride as The Druids Nephew it makes it all the better.

Barry Geraghty rode the horse when he won at Cheltenham but then got injured. Were you surprised to pick up the ride?

No. It was unfortunate Barry got injured but obviously then there was going to be a lot of people wanting to put their names in the hat. Plenty of agents rang up Neil (Mulholland, trainer of The Druids Nephew) and pushed names forward and mine was one and it was great to get the ride. It’s unfortunate for Barry but that’s the way it goes.

You’ve had few rides in the National; does The Druids Nephew represent the best chance you’ve ever had?

At this moment in time yes. I had Mon Mome in 2008 (he finished 10th before winning 12 months later under Liam Treadwell after Coleman had opted to ride stablemate Stan) but the others were outsiders. So yes, The Druids Nephew would be my biggest chance so far.

He looked one of the most emphatic handicap winners of the week at Cheltenham. How impressed were you?

Very. To dominate the field as he did from a good bit out in Cheltenham was very, very impressive. Hence why the handicapper thinks he’s the best handicapped horse in the race.

Q Neil Mulholland feels The Druids Nephew didn’t have the hardest of races at the Festival. That bodes well, doesn’t it? 

Exactly. This year as well there’s a slightly longer gap between Cheltenham and Aintree which gives horses another week to recover. That extra week to get over the race helps.

Q How significant a factor could that be?

It obviously depends on the horse. Some horses take their racing better than others. But The Druids Nephew is a tough, consistent type of horse, the kind who can cope with most things you throw at him. I sat on him last week and I can see why he took Cheltenham in his stride. The extra week for Neil to get him ready and freshened up and get all the last-minute preparations done is definitely going to help though.

This is kind of a ridiculous question given the nature of the race but if you had to pick out some of the biggest dangers who would you be wary of?

There’s a good list! Everyone would have their own view. I rode in the race Rocky Creek won at Kempton (the BetBright Chase in February) and he was so impressive that day. They went a good gallop and, like The Druids Nephew at Cheltenham he was the winner from a long way out in an ultra-competitive handicap so he has to be taken seriously. He’s been trained for the race this year and has to be respected coming from Paul Nicholls’ stable.

You’ve enjoyed a lot of success in recent years but how big would it be to have National-winning jockey on your CV?

It would be a defining moment in the career of anybody who wants to be a jumps jockey. It’s probably one of the most watched sporting events in the world in any sport so that will tell you how big it is. I’m very lucky to be doing well over here for the last five-six years, that’s grand in racing but the Grand National brings it into every household. The prestige of winning something like the National would be just unbelievable.

Does the fact you go into Aintree having won a Welsh National this season give you extra confidence?

Nah. I’ve had a good season, plenty of winners over the last couple of weeks so I’ve plenty confidence going in there anyway. A Grand National would be great to win; I’ll be trying as hard as I can and hopefully we have a bit of luck.

Looking back on the season, how much satisfaction did you take from winning the Welsh National with Emperor’s Choice?

It was a great thrill. It’s obviously a very big race and it was a great day for everybody involved. Winning races like that is what it’s all about.

Q You were belatedly hit with a ban for over-use of the whip on Emperor’s Choice; did that saga frustrate you or take from the joy of winning?

It didn’t really bother me. The rules are the rules and if you go over them you get done. It took three weeks or so afterwards (to get resolved) but everyone makes mistakes. People around me were quite frustrated but, in all honesty, it didn’t bother me too much because that’s just the way it goes. Someone made a mistake on the day and then they rectified it. I think people are probably more frustrated with the rules in general, how it happened on the day and it was brought up a couple of weeks later but those are the rules. When you are given a licence you agree to ride under those rules whether you like them or not – that’s just the way it is. I think they work okay.

Q Saturday is obviously AP McCoy’s last National and, depending on the outcome, possibly even his last race. What’s it going to be like walking into a weighing room that doesn’t include him? 

It will be very strange. It’s almost law as long as I’ve been going into the weighing room he’s been champion jockey. He’s always been that figure that he was. He’s a real good fellow as well. I’ve been riding with him for the last 10 years regularly and we’re all quite close to him. It will be strange going into weighing room and not seeing him there.

For years it was accepted AP McCoy would be champion jockey whereas now the likes of Sam Twiston-Davies, yourself, Richard Johnson and Noel Fehily can all be thinking ‘I can win this’. So it kind of opens things up a bit, doesn’t it?

Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be champion jockey every year but it was nearly an impossible task with AP McCoy around. Now he’s going, it will open the door for a lot of things opportunities wise. 200-250 winners and 700 rides that he would have taken are now up for grabs and we’ll all be trying to get in on it.

How important has Venetia Williams been in your career?

Unbelievably so. She’s given me so many big days and big winners and we’ve had a lot of great days. I’ve been with her eight or nine years, we’ve definitely had some great days together.

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