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 7th January
Already the week ahead seems as if it is going to be a bit busier than the last…thank god!! There are a few more northern meetings and more of my regular trainers have made entries. As long as the weather doesn’t ago against us, I should have rides at Doncaster, Catterick, Sedgefield and Kelso. This morning I was in at Andrew Crook’s to school a few, my schooling partner for the morning was fellow Scotsman and friend of mine, Ryan Mania. My timekeeping skills seem to be far superior to Ryan’s as he rocked in just the 40 minutes late, which meant I got to sit in the office and knock back a couple of cups of coffee before getting on with my duties. I schooled a nice novice hurdler who runs under the name of Jimmy Brown and the former Howard Johnson trained Fortysecond Street over fences. Both schooled really well and none of us fell off…Result!!!
Tuesday 8th January
With no racing today I went into Mark Johnston’s all morning which took me up to 1 O’clock. I then popped into Andrew Crook’s for a lot on my way home just to keep myself nice and busy. It was good to see Andy out and about looking bright and healthy and he even came up the gallops to watch his horses go through their paces. He has made huge progress in such little time. When I got home Kelly gave me the good news that if nothing goes wrong then we should finally be in our new house early next week, we have just got the final bits of paperwork to finish and are hoping to complete next Monday!! New Year – New House, something we are really looking forward to. It has taken much longer than first anticipated but no doubt will be worth all the hassle and stress it has brought over the past few months. Someone once told me that the three most stressful things in life are buying a house, getting married and getting divorced. Now, I only plan on doing two out of those three so I’ll be very happy when the keys are passed over which then only leaves me with the getting married bit, I’m a couple of years away from that mind!!
Wednesday 9th January
I was in the first race at Doncaster today so I didn’t have time to get my usual 4 lots in. I rode 2 quick lots for Kelly’s parents Karl and Elaine before jumping into the car and heading off racing. My only ride on the day was the Richard Guest trained Nurse Dominatrix who was running for the first time over hurdles. It was quite a hot race to be fair and at odds of 150/1 I was not too hopeful making the number 1 spot in the winners enclosure. She was very keen early doors and I dropped her in towards the rear, she settled into it the further she went and for a novice she jumped brilliantly. We ended up finishing midfield, not a bad run at all and I thought she showed enough to suggest she could make her presence felt in handicap company. No winners today but at least we left the races in one piece, we’ll try again tomorrow!! When I got home I was saddened to read the news that a body believed to be missing racehorse trainer Owen Brennan had been found by a member of the public this afternoon, he had been missing since December 17th. I didn’t know him that well but the racing industry is a very small community and when anyone involved passes away it is felt throughout. Rest In Peace Owen.
Thursday 10th January
It was pretty much deja vu today as my only ride was in the first race and only left enough time to squeeze a couple of lots in before heading down the road to Catterick. I have ridden there the last two meetings and the ground was very heavy both those days. The groundstaff did a fantastic job putting all back in place but as result it rode very dead. I was riding Rhyme Royal who was having her second attempt at hurdles. She wasn’t really handling the ground from the off and was beaten a long way from home. She did make a bit of noise however, not enough to suggest there is a wind problem there but I think it is something that can be fixed with a simple tongue-tie, if that doesn’t work then it’s back to drawing boards! It was awful to read the news this afternoon that former Triumph hurdle winner and Champion Hurdler Katchit had lost his life to colic. He was an absolute pleasure to watch and I was lucky enough to be at the Cheltenham festival the year he stormed up the hill to take the Triumph hurdle, another sad loss for racing. Horses like him are few and far between.
Friday 11th January
I rode out a couple of lots in at Mark Johnston’s before heading just up the road to Sedgefield where I had 2 rides. My first ride was No Quarter who was having his first run over hurdles and is trained by birthday girl Tracey Waggot. He has won on the level over 7 furlongs so my first thoughts were that he might struggle to stay the 2mile trip on testing ground. He jumped plenty well enough and traveled into the race really well, I thought he was going to run a massive race until he got very tired approaching the second last flight. He was just simply too keen early doors and never got home. On better ground he should manage to stay the trip in future. My second ride was Copt Hill who is also trained by Tracey. There was no pace in the race so I decided to do all the donkey work and make the running on him as he was a little keen on the way to the start. We made all and never seen another rival, winning at odds of 25/1. It was a weak race but he won it well so hopefully he can now build on that and progress to win another very soon.
It was good to get my first winner of 2013 in nice and early and let’s hope we can just keep the head down and find a few more of them.
Saturday 12th December
With no racing for me today it was simply a case of another day another dollar. I went into Mark Johnston’s to ride out 4 lots before heading over to Andrew Crooks to ride out a couple lots in the early afternoon. In there I schooled novice hurdler Jimmy Brown again, he has been schooling very well and will be making his hurdles debut in the next week or two. If he were to run up to the level he showed on his first bumper then there is a fair chance he could run a mighty race, one for the notebook! Kelso announced this morning that they are expecting a drop in temperatures this evening and into tomorrow with possible snow forecast; as a result they will be holding an 8am inspection before racing tomorrow morning. We haven’t had a bad run of it this week with the weather but fingers crossed Kelso is on as I have 2 nice rides to look forward to.
Sunday 13th December
I woke up to the good news that Kelso had no overnight ground frost and racing would go ahead without any problems at all. I went into Mark Johnston’s for only 1 lot before heading off racing. Good friend of mine Fearghal Davis was on the phone sharpish telling me it was my turn to drive so that gave me no chance to scrounge a lift elsewhere. The driving can get a bit boring when you’re on your own but when you have good company it’s not so bad. I had 2 rides up at Kelso this afternoon, both of them trained by my old boss, Lucy Normile. Remember Rocky was making his hurdling debut in the first race. He was a little careful but jumped really well on the whole, he never handled the heavy ground at all but will mature a lot for the experience and will be more effective on ground softer or better. 1 hour later Rinagree Rosie was also making her hurdles debut. She travelled and jumped very well indeed but when I wanted her to quicken she hung quite badly as if something was possibly amiss. I took no chances and pulled her up!! She seemed fine after the race so hopefully next time she can get over whatever it was that was bothering her. She is a good horse on her day and one that I hold in high regard! It has been a busy week and thankfully I managed to get a winner, same again next week and I’ll be a happy man!!
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)