A week in the life of Mick 9th April

After the madness of Cheltenham, life for Mick is yet to slow down. He has been busy racing and then had a week off at home looking after the horses while his wife and kids went skiing. Unfortunately for Mick, he can no longer ski due to previous riding injuries, so he has to stay at home and hold the fort whilst looking after all of  the animals.

Mick is on his way to the studio in Milton Keynes as we catch up and tells me he is off to Aintree on Wednesday morning. We look ahead to the main race day at Aintree this Saturday 14th April and I ask Mick what he fancies for the feature race of the week, the one we have all been waiting for. The way Mick looks at it, is as if her were riding...and which horse he would want to ride. A horse with class and a good recent form is the winning formula for him, this draws his attention to ANIBALE FLY who finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. BLACKLION is another option for Mick, who was 4th last in the Grand National last year. However, he does have some concerns that BLACKLION faded last year and this year will be carrying extra weight but after a wind op, he is hopeful he can make it home in front.

Webp.net-compress-image (6).jpg

Mick then points out that this has been a great year for female jockeys. Mick is a big advocate for female riders and says “Gender shouldn’t come into it, like in eventing...no one mentions, ‘Mary King is a good rider for a girl.’ I am a great believer that all athletes are treated with equal respect in all sports”.

This year we will see three female jockeys mounted for the race, which is fantastic to see. Mick says he was lucky to have plenty of role models growing up and now young females with similar aspirations have role models of their own.  Each of the female riders have a great chance and there is a great case for each horse. Starting with Rachael Blackmore who rides ALPHA DES OBEAUX. This horse was 2nd in a stayers hurdle and Rachael is a very capable rider. Bryony Frost is next and riding MILANSBAR who she has won on before and stands a great chance. Lastly we have Katie Walsh who has been placed in the race before, so she knows it well and will be on board BAIE DES IIES. This horse is trained by her husband Ross so would make a great story if they could bring home the win!

A week in the life of Mick 5th March

Well the ‘Beast from the East’ finally hit and boy did it take its toll on the racing! One meeting after another were abandoned due to the adverse weather conditions but luckily for the ITV racing fans, Lingfield was good to go with the all weather track living up to its purpose. Mick said he had a fantastic day despite the slight panic to revise and plan for broadcasting 6 races. He also commented on how hard the grounds team worked at Lingfield. They worked through the night into the early hours, harrowing and looking after the track just to make sure the meeting went ahead. He also tell me how this is not normally a day that would broadcast on ITV, so it was a brilliant opportunity to showcase some of the up and coming trainers and riders on the flat. It was great exposure for them to be on Saturday ITV racing but lets hope the weather stays fair and dry for the upcoming highlight of the jumps season and Mick’s year...The Festival.

This week, Mick does not have many race broadcasting duties but instead, a week of Cheltenham preview evenings...so plenty of late nights and long hours in the car driving! He was on the panel for one in North London on Monday, Racing Breaks on Wednesday and the Seven Kings on Wednesday. He goes on to tell me Seven Kings is a regular one for him and he really enjoys it as there is lots of banter and they get a lot of stick! Unfortunately you can’t always get it right, and this crowds really let you know when they do not agree!

This weekend coming, Mick has a rare Saturday off and is very much looking forward to a day with the family before the madness starts next week.

Watch out for our blog which will include all of the selections from the Racing Breaks Preview Evening. Mick was joined on the panel by Trainer Charlie Longsdon, Star Sports’ Luke Tarr, Champion Jump Jockey Richard Johnson, and was hosted by City A.M. racing editor Bill Esdaile.

DXwTfiEWAAEfBtW.jpg

A week in the life of Mick 26th February

It would appear the ‘Beast from the East’ is yet to hit Mick in Lambourn however, they are expecting it. Mick goes onto tell me that he was at Nicky Henderson's yard, Seven Barrows, last week where they schooled 50 horses in one morning. He says we often get accused of being behind the times in racing, but Nicky was clearly thinking ahead and knowing the bad weather was coming, took the pressure off for the colder days where they may not be able to get out on the gallops. This way all the horses who needed a jump before the festival have had one. He is clearly leaving nothing to chance, this kind of talk gets me very excited for the festival, I love all the build up and anticipation...it’s like Christmas!

Mick and I actually crossed paths on Saturday at a very chilly Kempton. Mick was in the parade ring filming for ITV, which he tells me he really enjoys as you are right in the middle of the action. From here you can grab everyone you need to talk to; trainers, owners and jockeys, but he says by the end of the day you feel as though you are cemented to the floor and your feet are frozen! Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable day with Alan King’s horse REDICEAN, standing out for him. This horse had two very bad starts which is rare for a horse of Alan’s, he didn’t give up though and obviously knew the horse was better than what he had shown in previous races. Mick tells me Alan has schooled the horse at home over a total of 200 hurdles, his hard work clearly paid off and was shown on Saturday. GLOBAL CITEZEN also impressed him.

6yNDC25yS4qmPuAEc8PRZA.jpg

Mick’s week is very up in the air with so much racing already being cancelled and more bad weather on the cards. He was meant to have a runner at Wincanton which is cancelled, so he re-entered him at Doncaster which may also be called off too! Mick is also meant to be with ITV at Doncaster on Saturday but there is talks of them covering Newbury instead if Doncaster is abandoned. He tells me what a nightmare this is for all the crew and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Hopefully the snow moves through quickly and we get some racing this weekend and more importantly it warms up for Cheltenham!

A week in the life of Mick 19th February

Here we are again for our weekly catch up with Mick Fitzgerald and what an interesting and exciting week it’s been…I catch up with Mick before he heads off to the Studio in Milton Keynes.

The week started with a night of celebrations and appreciation for the Stud and Stable Staff of the Racing industry. This was an evening close to Mick’s heart as he mentions that it is the team of staff in every racing yard that put in so much hard work behind the scenes which makes him appreciate the sport much more. He goes onto say how lucky we are as an industry that everyone involved in the sport loves their job. It’s not a particularly well paid sport so awards like this are so important to show them gratitude. It means so much to them to be recognised and rewarded for all their hard work and dedication.

Last week Mick visited the Ebony Horse Club, which he described as an oasis in a concrete jungle as it is surrounded by high rise flats in the heart of London. For those who don’t know, Ebony Horse Club is a charity based just south of the river in  Brixton, London. They use horses to raise the education, life skills and well-being of local young people living in some of the most disadvantaged communities in south London. Mick said it was an incredible experience and was very uplifting to see so many happy people smiling and the place is full of real characters. He hopes to work with them more and was so pleased to have had the opportunity to go and visit them.

d2cc0ac4-c7f0-4ef2-b35e-6fbf868165ec.JPG

It was quite a special week for Mick really, after an amazing day at Ascot on Saturday his week was on a huge high. He said the atmosphere was simply amazing and a real treat to enjoy with so many stories throughout the day. Firstly, he mentioned the upcoming star of the season, Bryony Frost who Mick coaches, this was a first for Bryony who was on favourite BLACK CORTON and to make a change, something was expected of the horse. He said he could tell she was a little more nervous than usual, you would have never known it once she was on the horse. She was so in control, calm and just a total natural, this is why; he explains, she has such an advantage and thinks she will be so successful. She gave the horse a really good ride in a big race on a big day so all credit to her.

Next we discuss the emotional race of CUE CARD and WAITING PATIENTLY, both are huge crowd favourites. He said both were applauded equally coming back in after the race and it was very emotional, this is what Mick explains, sets national hunt racing apart from the flat. It’s those crowd favourites that we all get attached to, get to know them, the people involved and follow their stories.

This weekend he will be at Kempton for the very last of the trials as we head onto the home straight for the Festival!

A week in the Life of Mick 12th February

Mick is feeling much better and is walking Serge as we speak, he said he hates to see a racecourse abandoned but was pleased not to miss Fakenham as it’s one of his favourite courses.

We catch up about the fantastic racing from Newbury at the weekend, where we saw ALTIOR triumph again and in Micks words, ALTIOR is the real deal. He thought it was like he had never been away. ALTIOR of course wasn’t the only star of the week NATIVE RIVER made his come back too and Mick said he looked as fit as a flea and is now a real player for the Gold Cup.

horse.JPG

This week for Mick is a little different he will of course be at Ascot on Saturday, where CUE CARD, TOP NOTCH and CONEY ISLAND will go head to head. It’s getting closer to the festival and the last of the trials are wrapping up so everyone is getting a little nervous and will be very careful what they run and when.

Before that though Mick and Oli Bell are going the the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. If you haven’t heard of them, take two minutes of your time and watch this video.

The Ebony Horse Club use riding to educate children and teach them life-skills which will help them in the day-to-day lives. Most of these children, I am told by Mick, are growing up in some of the most disadvantaged communities in south London. Some of the children are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to gang crime and so this is a brilliant way to focus their interest on something positive.

Mick and Oli are going to visit the club and see what they can do to help as it is an amazing charity that has touched many hearts in the racing industry. We are really looking forward to hearing more about it next week.

If you too would like to donate or find out more about this wonderful chairty and how you can help, please visit HERE.

A week in the life of Mick 5th February

After a very busy week at the Dublin racing festival it was great to catch up with Mick, he was sad not to see WESTEND STORY run on Saturday but you have to do what is right for the horse.

On reflection of the Dublin Racing Festival, Mick thinks it’s the best idea they have ever had. We agreed it was great to see so many good horses running with some top quality races, hopefully after the huge success of this year we can hope to see more English horses head over in future. He said that whatever anyone thinks, jumps racing is so dependent on results at the Cheltenham Festival, so it will take a lot for English trainers to head over with the risk of travelling badly and sickness, and then only having a five week turn around for the festival, it’s a big ask and not to mention they will be on the home turf of the Irish. The likes of Mullins and Elliot run here week in week out, but hopefully after such a successful weekend it will be an even bigger event next year. He did mention that although the trainers hadn’t made the trip, many UK based spectators had, I also saw many of my friends heading over and why not. The course is perfectly located close to Dublin and makes for a fantastic weekend, so it was great to see the UK support for their first year.

 Buveur D'Air

Buveur D'Air

 Dublin Racing Festival

Dublin Racing Festival

Mick had spent Saturday at Sandown and was so delighted for Paul Nicholls winning the Betfred Hurdle, he said TOPOFTHEGAME is a progressive horse and is only just a baby so thinks he has even more to show us.

As for this week Mick has the lurgy (man flu) so is resting up. He had planned to attend Fakenham which he was telling me is one of his favourite tracks. He described the track as just having a feel good factor about it, and is similar to a point-to-point. For any first time racegoer this is where Mick would recommend going,  

 Newbury

Newbury

Mick is hoping to get better for the weekend as it’s a massive weekend for him, this weekend is of course the Newbury Betfair Super Saturday, this is his home track and a personal highlight of the season. Mick has won the Betfair hurdle a few times and his old boss, Nicky Henderson, will be throwing a few darts at the board for the race, with JENKINS and CHARLIE PARCS, and these are just two of his potential runners. Nicky will of course also be running ALTIOR and all eyes will be on him, Mick seemed very confident in his chances and I think we would all like to see him win.

We hope Mick feels better and look forward to watching him on Saturday at Newbury.

A week in the Life of Mick 29th January 2018

A better start to the week for Mick with all dogs accounted for in the Fitzgerald household!

We start by chatting about the weekend just gone, which he was very impressed by APPLE’S SHAKIRA showing that J P McManus will once again have a very strong hand for the festival. We also discuss the new kid on the block Bryony Frost who I learn Mick is a Jockey Coach for. He was very impressed with her ride on FRODON, who he thinks they could have a squeak for in the Ryanair and would be a good each way bet! He said what a natural talent Bryony is and a pleasure to be coaching. Mick meets with Bryony most weeks and will be seeing her on Tuesday. He will then be heading over to the At The Races studios Wednesday in Milton Keynes for the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival.

Copy of Cheltenham Festival 1.jpg

This week is the first Dublin Racing festival which he is very excited for as are we! This is a new concept and has some fantastic racing on offer and is perfect timing for the English and Irish horses. He was telling me what he is most looking forward to starting with FAUGHEEN and a very competitive Irish Arkle with FOOTPAD and PETIT MOUCHOIR who were 4th and 3rd in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last year. Mick himself will be covering this from the studio and heading to Leopardstown on Sunday where there are four massive Grade 1 Races!

Before that though he will be at Sandown on Saturday for ITV and has a runner of his own! Mick has his own syndicate the Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club, this is a big runner for them and the race is worth £100,000. The horse won last time out at Wetherby and they are very hopeful of his chances, he’s called WESTEND STORY and runs in the 15.00 at Sandown. You can read more about Micks syndicate here.

He thought that after this weekend Cheltenham would become much clearer or even muddier!  

A Week in the Life of Mick Fitzgerald

Welcome to our new feature on the Racing Breaks blog, where we will be having a weekly catch up with Mick to see what a week in the Life of Mick involves. Here we will get a real insight into the racing world from a man who knows it so well and maybe steal a few tips along the way!

pasted image 0.png

It isn’t often that a busy man like Mick Fitzgerald gets to sit down for a quiet cup of tea, but I had the rare chance to chat with the racing legend about what his busy schedule had in store this week. Lets just say, poor Mick didn’t have the best start to his week... after a freezing morning filming, he returned home to find that his son’s dog, Serge, was missing. After a worrying day of an effortful search party running circles around the village, Serge was found safe and sound. Let’s hope it can only get better from here…!

Mick has a busy week of filming ahead and as previously mentioned, his week started with filming at Wetherby for At The Races. He was there to speak with Richard Guest who has a horse heading to Santa Anita in February, Richard of course was a successful jump jockey Mick was telling me, and has done very well training sprinters on the flat since his retirement as a jockey, so Mick hopes he will have a great deal of success in his second career.

Mick will then fly to Ireland Tuesday night to continue his duties filming for At The Races, this time focussing on the Dublin Racing Festival. He will be meeting some of the Irish point-to-point trainers who buy unbroken 3yr olds and turn them into pointers. Among them will be Sean Doyle who is an old friend of Micks, so he is looking forward to seeing him. Sean is fast becoming a very successful producer of young horses, so I look forward to seeing this. Mick will then stay on in Ireland for racing at Gowran Park, this is the Goff Thyestes day, one of their biggest race meetings in the calendar. Racing will be covered by At The Races so let’s hope it’s not too cold for the presenters!

After a busy week in Ireland, Mick then heads back to the UK in prep for the Cheltenham Trials day, where he will be working for ITV. Mick has his eyes on BRISTOL DE MAI and hopes to see great things from him following a disappointing run in the King George due to a stomach ulcer. The team will be hoping he performs well enough to come out as a contender for the Gold Cup. He will have his optimum race conditions on Saturday so hopefully he runs well. He also mentioned that his usual mount Daryl Jacobs won’t be riding him as he has to be elsewhere for a retained ride, so Sam Twiston-Davies will be on board.

All in all a busy week for Mick and we look forward to hearing how it all panned out after this busy weekend of Cheltenham trials!!

Mick Fitzgerald Profile

Copy of MickFitz-TV2.jpg

Name-Michael Fitzgerald

Born- 10th May 1970

Height- 5ft 6"

Occupation- TV Presenter for ITV

Biggest Career win- grand national, gold cup

Best racing moment- riding a treble gold cup day including the gold cup

Best Horse- see more business

Total wins- 1300+

Football team- swindon town

Favourite series- lucky man. Mick rode jimmy nesbitt his first winner

Favourite track- cheltenham