Robbie Power was on Wednesday reflecting on one of the toughest decisions of his riding career, after leaving his family behind to base himself in Britain due to the current restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey has made frequent trips across the Irish Sea in recent seasons, enabling him to ride for both Jessica Harrington at home and Colin Tizzard in Britain.
However, with Covid-19 protocols making such an arrangement impossible, Power has moved to Britain for the foreseeable future.
Power said: “I came over on Tuesday night on the boat and brought my car over. With the restrictions the way they are at the moment, I can’t do what I’ve been doing for the last few years – flying back and forth.
“I’m living in Stow-on-the-Wold with Will Kennedy and his partner Rachel and Johnny Burke.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve obviously had a long association with Jessie (Harrington) for a long time and built up a good relationship with Robcour (owners) as well.
“It was difficult to decide to come and stay over here, but with the quality of horses that the Tizzards have this year, it was something I kind of had to do.”
Power will be able to make fleeting visits to his homeland following last month’s change to coronavirus quarantine rules for sportspeople, which permits overseas jockeys to ride on Group or Grade 1 racedays in Ireland.
He admits the biggest wrench in making the semi-permanent move is leaving behind his wife Hannah and young daughter Emma.
Power added: “I can still return to Ireland on Grade 1 days and that is what I plan to do. Chris’s Dream is planned to run in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase, so my first return to Ireland will be to ride in Down Royal, all being well.
“The hardest part of it is leaving my daughter and wife, but Hannah is very practical and knows that needs must. It’s a difficult time for everybody and she understands the situation.
“Hopefully it won’t be forever. Hopefully this Covid thing will go away and we can get back to some sort of normality.”
Lostintranslation and Robbie Power winning last year's Betfair Chase
Power will ride in Britain for the first time this season when partnering Shybairnsgetnowt in the bumper at Ffos Las on Thursday, before taking up several mounts for the Tizzard team at Chepstow on Friday and Saturday.
He said: “The plan was always to come over for this weekend at Chepstow as that’s where Colin likes to get his horses started if the ground is safe.
“Colin and Joe rang me last week to say they’d had a lot of rain and it looked like Chepstow was going to have lovely safe ground – that was when reality hit.
“Myself and Hannah have talked about it for a while and we knew it was going to be a possibility. We were hoping Covid would have passed over by now, but it obviously hasn’t and when I got the call last week that was when it sunk in I would have to go.”
Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, is delighted the yard will be able to call upon Power’s services during the coming months.
He said: “Robbie has been a big part of the team and has ridden a lot of big winners for us. His feedback is fantastic and he has bags of experience.
“He has had this issue slightly forced upon him as he can’t travel backwards and forwards like he normally would with the restrictions in place. It was still a big call from him as Jessie still has some very good horses, but it is nice for us and our owners are very excited.
“We’ve a lot of good horses and he has had a feel of them all over the last couple of years, so he knows their potential.
“We will still use Jonjo O’Neill junior and Harry Cobden as we’ve had a lot of luck with both and we have plenty of horses to go round, so hopefully we can continue looking after them as well.”