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 1st April
April Fools Day!! Eegit here (that’s me by the way) after saying to myself when I woke up this morning that I wouldn’t believe anything that anyone had to say until after 12pm fell for what is probably the most common April fool on the planet! A friend of mine from back home tweeted saying his missus had just gone into labour. The guy doesn’t even have a missus, and I foolishly replied wishing them both the best of luck…what an idiot!! After riding out a couple lots I headed off to Newcastle where I had three rides to look forward to. The ground was drying up by the minute and after my first ride Black Velvet Bell (which finished midfield) I was told by my valet that Shannina who is trained by David Thompson was no longer running in the last as the ground had gone too quick for him. My second and now final ride was Silverton. The ground had gone plenty quick enough for her as well and she was one paced up the straight also to finish midfield.
Tuesday 2nd April
There are over fifty entries for the Champion Bumper at Aintree and for safety purposes only twenty are allowed to run. I had to wait until after riding out to see whether or not Fair Loch had been allocated a ballot number or not. Thankfully, he wasn’t which guarantees him a run. I would have been gutted if he didn’t get to line up and take his chance after winning so impressively last time out. I rode out four lots this morning for Karl Burke, Fair Loch being one of them. I gave him his final blow in preparation for Saturday and to be fair I couldn’t have been happier with him. With no racing today I decided to take myself for a run in the afternoon. I’ve found a route which is around four miles and takes me just under half an hour. I would easily lose two pounds in weight every time I run it so not only is a great a way to keep fit, and even better it’s a great way to keep light!!
Wednesday 3rd April
I had to be on the road at half past five this morning as I was going into Mark Johnston’s where first lot is six o’clock. Although it was a wee bit nippy at that time of the day it didn’t half brighten up later this morning. I was full sure spring had been cancelled this year but today may just have been the first day of it. I never had any rides today at Wetherby so I rode out all four lots before heading home for the day at lunchtime. With it being nice outside I decided to get the DIY head on me and do a bit in the garden. We got an outdoor table and chairs for the back garden delivered a while back, but all they have done is remain in there boxes in the garage. After taking them out of their flat packs I did exactly what every other man in the world would do and deposited the instruction manual where it belongs; straight in the bin!! A few hours later and I was finished, to me it looks perfectly fine so I just hope it doesn’t collapse on us when we get the chance to sit at it, somehow I don’t think that would go down to well with the boss!!
Thursday 4th April
Before getting parked up on the couch with a cup of milky, sugary tea to watch day one of the Aintree festival, I went into Mark Johnston’s yard where I ride out four lots. I dropped my car off at the garage at breakfast time to get a new set of tyres on her and fix one or two niggly problems to cure her lameness. When I went back to collect her on my way home after work, the mechanic very kindly relieved me of three hundred quid…devastated.com!! At least I had a good afternoons racing to watch to take my mind of getting robbed. I was absolutely delighted for the Colthard team after their veteran Tartan Snow won the foxhunters at 100/1, a fantastic achievement for a yard that only has a handful of horses. He was also ridden by a Scottish jockey; young Jamie Hamilton gave him an absolute peach of a ride and looks a lad going places!
As I’d been cast on the sofa all afternoon I decided to take the dog out to the park to teach her how to play fetch. She picked it up very quickly and has now turned into a nightmare and wants to chase anything in sight, regretting it now!!
Friday 6th April
Just like yesterday I rode out four lots in the morning before returning home (thankfully not via the garage this time) to watch day two of the Aintree festival. After AP bolted up in the very first race of the day I was delighted hear him say the ground was genuine good ground as it should suit my lad to a tee. Although it was soft and very tacky when I won on Fair Loch at Catterick I still didn’t think he particularly enjoyed it, he simply won through pure ability. Being a champion bumper it is obviously going to be very competitive but hopefully we can get a bit of luck in running, I will be delighted to see him run a solid race. With that I mind I went for a run in the evening and took myself for an early night; a good night’s sleep and a clear head are as important as anything!
Saturday 6th April
Grand National Day! Before heading off to Aintree I went into Karl Burke’s to play flat jockey for the morning and put a couple of two year olds through the stalls. The man himself very kindly offered me a lift racing, not having to drive almost feels as good as winner does so that was an offer I could not refuse. We took a walk around the track when we arrived, the atmosphere was incredible and walking the national track just made me wish I was having a go over the ‘big ones’.
Although I was in the weighing room when the big race was on I was screaming for all I was worth on friend and fellow Scotsman Ryan Mania on Auroras Encore who went on to win the race. I was absolutely delighted for Ryan, who two years ago gave up race riding to become a huntmaster, so to now win the biggest steeplechase in the world…that’s just brilliant!!
My ride Fair Loch was running in the bumper and hoping to repeat his effortless win at Catterick. I was wider than first intended and to be fair I probably didn’t give him a great ride, but he emptied very quickly which was very out of character for him. He finished 14th of 20 and seemed perfectly fine afterwards and hopefully he was just having an off day and can bounce back to winning form next time round.
Sunday 7th April
Betfair have set up a football league for the lads in racing, which consists of teams from different areas in the country. After riding out four lots this morning Middleham (who I was playing for) had our first game against of the season against Malton, a North Yorkshire derby so to speak. I get quite passionate when I play competitive football and although I stand at 5ft 8″, as soon I stick on a pair of football boots I grow to about 6ft. We had a pretty decent side but were a little less organised than our opponents and got beat 3-1, and to be fair the goals we gave away were soft to say the least. Our next game is away to Lambourn and we will definitely be much, MUCH better when that day arrives. There is no sport in the world that can compete with the highs and lows that racing can throw your way and that was proven today. Yesterday, Ryan Mania was on top of the world having won the Grand National, today he was laying on the turf at Hexham waiting on an air ambulance to collect him to take him to hospital in Newcastle. He was conscious and able to move his limbs but took a heavy kick to the back, they are saying it is all precautionary so hopefully he will be grand and will not be out for too long. Just goes to show, you have to keep your feet firmly on the ground in this game cause one way or another you’ll come back down to earth with a bang at some point.
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)