Me, Myself and Horseracing…
Before I start I would just like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me.
I am a 22 year old conditional jockey living in Middleham (North Yorkshire). I’m originally from a small town called Haddington which is only a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh. Horseracing is my passion and I consider myself very fortunate to make a living from a sport I love.
I hope my weekly column can be of interest and give you an insight if my day to day life, on and off the course! No doubt there will be a few laughs along the way…..
Monday 18th February
I had a few rides last week and only managed to hit the crossbar, so I am hoping that maybe I can hit the back of the net this time round. After four lots at Mark Johnstons I was on the road to Southwell for one ride to try and do just that. I couldn’t get a lift there for the life of me so had to go the journey solo. I rode Along Came Rosie who is trained by Andrew Crook and was running in the two mile four furlong conditional jockeys hurdle. The form of her last three runs read PPP so on paper she probably didn’t look appealing, but she does have some not so bad form to her name before that and having slipped down the handicap to good mark I was hopeful I could get a good run from her at odds of 20/1. She doesn’t like being over crowded so I dropped her in a bit and went down the middle, giving her a clear sight of her obstacles. For whatever reason they always seem to go a gallop in conditional jockeys races and today was no exception. It suited my filly as the horses in front began to fall in a bit of hole. She stayed on well to finish third of the twelve runners. She should come on for the run and hopefully can build on it to go even closer next time.
Tuesday 19th February
After riding out all morning I was on the road to Wetherby, which had to pass a couple of inspections in the morning before it was fit to race. The day didn’t start too well for Adam Nicol who broke his collar bone in the first after only returning a week or so ago from the exact same injury, poor lad has had no luck at all as of late. I had a couple of rides to look forward to, the first being Zazamix who I rode around Catterick only eight days ago over hurdles, he was back over the larger obstacles today. There were only five runners in the race but there was no shortage of pace, they went a good gallop and after getting in a bit tight to the first ditch down the back I started getting outpaced, he then plugged on again up the home straight, he is crying out to be stepped up in trip now.
My second ride was Hope For Glory who was making his racecourse debut in the bumper and is trained in Middleham by Jason Ward. It was quite a decent bumper in all fairness, but having sat on my lad at home last Saturday I was hoping he could run a good race. I dropped him in a bit and tracked Jason Maguire (who ended up winning) the whole way through. For an inexperienced horse he was very professional and traveled like a dream, he quickened well but just got a little tired in the closing stages to finish 6th, only a couple of lengths from the second spot. He will come on a ton for the race and I think he will certainly do a job in the north, he is one that I am looking forward to getting back on in the future.
Being an Arsenal fan I was back home el pronto to catch the build up to tonight’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich, just a man, his dog and the football on the TV, all the ingredients for a perfect evening…but Arsenal let me down getting beat 3-1!
Wednesday 20th February
I had a bit of long lie this morning as I didn’t have to be in to ride out until 8:30am. I went into Andrew Crooks to school Sohcahtoa who runs tomorrow at Sedgefield, he hasn’t run over hurdles for a few years so it was just to refresh his memory and get him off the ground. He jumped very well and was my only lot of the morning. I then kicked on to Doncaster where I had one ride. My mount was Nurse Dominatrix who was running in what was a decent juvenile hurdle. On paper the rest of the fields form was far superior to hers and because of that she was the 100/1 rank outsider. I dropped her in as she was very keen last time out but they went a right gallop today and she was flat to the boards from the off, after getting outpaced halfway she flew home and finished 6th and I could barely pull her up after we crossed the line. She was taking on some smart horses today and was just simply out of her depth, but when she gets handicapped and can run in her own company on soft ground I don’t think she will be too far away, she has the right attitude and she stays well, that’s normally good enough to win low grade handicaps.
Thursday 21st February
It is looking like today will be the final day this week I’ll be going racing so I was hoping I could find a winner from my two rides at Sedgefield. Before that though I went in and rode out three lots for Andy Crook. I schooled Jimmy Brown (who continues to impress) over a few french hurdles, it is looking like he will get to make is hurdle debut next week sometime all being well. I am looking forward to getting the leg up on him as he has done nothing but show plenty at home. When I had finished riding out I went home before going racing as I had an hour or so to kill, Peter Carberry had asked me for a lift racing so I had to wait on him arriving from his base in Lambourn. It meant that after a quick shower I could squeeze in one or two games of Fifa before he arrived! Both my rides today where for Andy and were running in the first and second races. Socahtoa was my first and was running in the novice hurdle. Alistair Findlay’s horse came down at the very first flight and fell right in our path, how an earth Socahtoa stood up is beyond me but I owe him a carrot or two for doing so. For a novice he was foot perfect at every flight and stayed on well to finish 6th. The drama at the first hurdle cost him a lot of ground and cost me any chance of getting really competitive but I liked the way he knuckled down and stayed on up the straight. I think he will have his day in the sun as long as the handicapper isn’t too harsh on him. My second ride was Bocamix who is dropping in the weights considerably. I thought my chance was totally gone going down the back for the second time, but when push came to shove he plugged on well up the straight to also finish in 6th place and beaten about eight lengths. He has plenty of ability but remains a bit of a monkey so hopefully a change of headgear will revitalize him back to somewhere near his best.
Friday 22nd February
I went into Karl and Elaine Burke’s as Friday is work morning in there. Karl wanted me to come in and do a little bit on Fair Loch (who is for sale), a bumper horse they have that is due to run very soon, a horse that I am rather looking forward to riding on the track. I had another couple of lots to ride out before I was done. With no northern racing today, when I finished in Karl’s, I was done for the day. After a quick mop chop in the barbers I was homeward bound for the night. I am not really one for reading books and have only read a few autobiography’s from the likes of AP McCoy, Timmy Murphy and a handful of others. But, for Christmas last year, I was given a Dick Francis novel called Bloodline from a family member and it’s done nothing but gather dust since Christmas Day. So, with a quiet weekend ahead of me I decided to blow off it the dust and give it a go. Any doubt that I previously had of being unable to get into a novel was blown out the water almost instantly, it is a very good book that hooks you from chapter one and by the time I went to bed I was already nearly half way through it.
Saturday 23rd February
Although I wasn’t riding at Newcastle, I was gutted for clerk of the course James Armstrong and his hard working team of groundstaff when it was abandoned this morning. An unexpected and unwelcome band of snow came through the night and left the track covered in one inch of snow. With temperatures to rise only marginally above freezing it gave Newcastle’s Eider meeting no chance of survival. It’s not great to lose any meeting, but to lose a feature meeting with the channel 4 cameras in town is a great loss. After riding out my four lots this morning I was done for the day. On the cards for me was an afternoon parked up on the sofa watching the remaining meetings that had avoided the bad weather, followed by a few more chapters of my highly addictive book, Bloodline. Middleham open day is always on good Friday every year and I always take part in the football match. It is Middleham boys against Mark Johnston’s and although I ride out for Mr Johnston I always play for Middleham. I was delighted this afternoon when my new football boots came as it gives me enough time to break them in before the big game. If you get a chance you should come along for the day, all the trainers open there gates and it’s a great chance to see all the horses up close and personal, plus we could do with a few more supporters at the football.
My final port of call this week was Mark Johnston’s where I rode out four lots. It was a bitter cold, snowy morning to be out working in but we got there in the end. Afterwards, I had no plans whatsoever this afternoon and with it being fairly miserable outside I ended up doing absolutely nothing but watching the sports on TV, bliss!! I have had a fairly busy week racing and if next week is as busy I won’t be complaining, just need to try and nick another winner from somewhere now.
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)