Horse Racing: Coming Back to Curragh Is a Shock to the System after Dubai Desert

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ANOTHER new season starts at the Curragh tomorrow. And, refreshed from my time in Dubai, I'm as enthusiastic as ever and looking forward to the challenges of a new campaign.

I really enjoyed my time in Dubai, where I rode some really nice horses and rode eight winners, just one behind the carnival's leading rider Kerrin McEvoy.

I got back to Ireland on Tuesday and rode out twice on the Curragh this week, a bit of a shock to the system after the heat in Dubai.

And I'll be heading back to the desert on Tuesday in preparation for the Dubai World Cup meeting next Saturday. After that, it'll be time to concentrate fully on the action closer to home.

At the moment, I expect to have five rides on World Cup night, including Ian Jory's FORTY LICKS, a smart Argentine-bred, in the 'big one', the Dubai World Cup.

Unfortunately, a few of Ishmail Mohammed's good horses, including FORMAL DECREE, a horse I won on and like a lot, have joined Godolphin and will wear the blue colours next Saturday.

After a winter in Dubai, riding at the Curragh tomorrow, as the new season opens, will be a very different experience.

We'll be racing on the worst possible ground - heavy ground that's beginning to dry out. So fitness will be crucial in every race, the ability to keep going in very testing conditions.

I was delighted to see John Oxx's team in such good form when I saw them on Thursday morning.

They look well, appear to have a good fitness base and are pretty forward. So, hopefully, we'll get into full swing over the next few weeks and enjoy a good year.

There are a lot of unexposed three-year-olds in the yard, colts and fillies. And we're hoping that something special might emerge from this bunch. Of course, ARCH SWING is a filly we know plenty about, a filly with loads of potential.

I've liked Arch Swing from the start. She was very green when she ran in a Curragh maiden on her debut. But she did her job really well and proved that she had progressed a lor for that run when she won the Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes in very good style in September.

Arch Swing is potentially a high-class filly. She has done particularly well over the winter and, although I'm not sure what John's immediate plan is with her, I think she'll be a serious Irish 1,000 Guineas contender.

We run a nice filly, SARICANA, in tomorrow's feature, the Lodge Park Stud Park Express Stakes, which is a Group 3 for the first time this year.

This filly is by INVINCIBLE SPIRIT and won her only start last year, a seven-furlong maiden at Roscommon in September, when she appreciated every yard of the trip and overcame her greenness to get up and short-head Mootamaress. …