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 March
Obviously with the Cheltenham Festival being on last week things were fairly quiet elsewhere which in turn left me a quiet week. Looking at the week ahead it’s looking like the weather is going to have a major say in things. I am down to ride Coffee King in the bumper at Huntingdon on Thursday, however, they are currently under a heap of water and unless there is a dramatic change it is looking extremely doubtful. Wednesday’s meeting at Newcastle is also under threat due to water-logging and will have to survive an inspection tomorrow. Sedgefield on Friday is looking slightly more positive and at the minute I am booked on Copt Hill who I won a couple of runs back at the very same course and distance! After riding out at Patrick Holmes yard I returned home to a phone call from the mother giving me the news that a nice little £90 parking charge had come through the door this morning with my name written all over it! Brilliant!! The In capture is most definitely my car but take a look at the Out capture, that could be a bloody UFO or anything!! What do you think?
Tuesday 19th March
After taking to twitter about the parking charge a very helpful gentleman informed me that I may not have to pay it, my ears pricked at the thought! Apparently parking charges that are not directly from the council or the police are not enforceable and can simply be avoided by purely ignoring them. Obviously this sounds too good to be true but he then followed his reply with a short clip from BBC’s Watchdog which sealed it for me, moral of the story; never give hard earned money away without checking first, check out this link >>> Watchdog – Don’t pay parking tickets. After riding out this morning I logged on the British Horseracing Authority’s website to see if by some miracle Newcastle had survived there inspection this morning, no joy. Meeting abandoned!! It’s hard to believe we are only 4 days away from the start of the flat turf season and meetings are still getting called off left, right and centre Even though we’re hardly racing we all still have to be fit, so a few us headed over to Catterick Leisure Centre for a game of 5-a-side indoor football. We need the practice as well mind as we have a big game against Mark Johnston’s lads at Middleham Open Day on Good Friday! We lost last time round so we are doing all we can so that doesn’t happen again!!
Wednesday 20th March (December!)
I was supposed to be in at Mark Johnston’s this morning for first lot which is 6 o’clock. My alarm went off 5:10am and I made the schoolboy error of pressing the snooze button and not just getting out of bed there and then. Kelly then re-woke me at 6am….ooops slept in!! With no chance of making first lot now I rang in and said I’d have to come in for second lot, which is at 8am as they have a 45 minute breakfast break after first lot. Which in turn left me another hour in bed; every cloud has a silver lining I guess!! I hate lateness of any kind and I very rarely am so I walked into the tackroom fairly red faced ready to get the head abused off me. After riding out my three lots I went along to Catterick Leisure Centre again for a game of football in the afternoon, this time it was with Mark Johnston stable lads…the opposition!! I am not really one for reading novels but I finally got round to finishing Bloodline, the book I have been reading which is written by Dick Francis’s son Felix Francis, a very good read indeed and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
Thursday 21st March
I was supposed to be riding Coffee King today down at Huntingdon but with the track underwater there was no chance of that. I went into Karl Burke’s yard this morning for a couple of lots, I am going in there twice a week on the lead up to Aintree to sit on Fair Loch to try and have him A1 for his big day. After riding out at Karl’s I went just across the road to Patrick Homes yard to ride out a further 3 lots. He is not long moved to Middleham and is still currently looking for staff; I am just going in there as often as I can to help out really. Copt Hill got declared this morning for Sedgefield tomorrow which is subject to an inspection in the morning. My ride has 10 stone after my 3 pound claim so I dedicated the rest of the day to losing weight. I can do 10 stone no bother but with racing being very quiet as of late and having been on Buddy’s stag do last weekend, the scales were not in my favour. You have to be at least 2lb lighter than the weight you are doing so I will have to be no heavier than 9 stone 12lb tomorrow, I woke up this morning fat as pig weighing 10 stone 5lb so I have to shift half a stone by then…no problem!! To get started I got all the layers on in the afternoon and went running, followed by a long hot bath in the evening, 5lb gone and I was 10 stone stripped before I hit the hay!!
Friday 22nd March
My only ride today wasn’t until 5:10 so I went in and rode out 3 lots at Karl Burkes again. There was no snow when I left Catterick this morning but when I got into Karl’s it was a complete whiteout with no sign of it stopping. Not the ideal conditions for riding out, but the horses still need the exercise and you just have to get the head down and crack on with it. Thankfully Sedgefield managed to avoid the snow and were able to cancel the inspection planned for 8am. Kelso and Bangor had no such luck; both meetings have been forced to keep their doors closed this weekend due to the weather. The Lesters (Jockeys Oscars) happens every year the Thursday evening before Good Friday which is next week. I have been putting it off for ages telling everyone that I am not going but, I got a phone call from Conor O’Farrel on my way back from riding out to say he has kept two places on his table for Kelly and Myself. After taking plenty time to think about it (about 10 seconds) I decided to book our tickets. I went last year and to be honest I can barely remember a thing. There is never any racing on Good Friday so all the lads like to let their hair down and have a bit of craic, it is always a great night. Copt Hill was running today in the 2 mile handicap hurdle. When I won on him I managed to get a soft lead and never seen another rival, I was hoping to do the same again! I nicked a few lengths when the tapes went up but there was too much pace and I had to end up taking a lead. He used himself up too much early on and never got home. He settles well in front and a soft lead is what he needs as he only just gets home.
Saturday 23 March
I reckon I could of made my very own episode of ice road truckers on the way to work this morning. There was a hell of a wind and the snow drifts were also quite impressive. To ride out my 4 lots, I was dressed like a fella fit to rob a bank with gloves, a ski mask type thing on and the goggles down to complete the look of a criminal!!
All the jump meetings over the next few days have already been abandoned. Looks like a quiet few days for me on the lead up to The Lesters. Looking at the forecast for next week, if accurate, we may even struggle to play our football match against Mark Johnston’s lads on open day which will be a real disaster as we have all put in a lot of effort training week in and week out. Who would have thought snow, frost and ice would play such a huge role in things at this time of year, looks like spring is cancelled folks!! Being the friendly chap I am I have made friends with the next door neighbour, so I got him over this evening to give him a lesson or two at how to play Fifa and then got Paranormal Activity 4 from box office to scare the life out of us.
Sunday 24th March
I went into Mark Johnston’s again this morning for 4 lots, followed by a very VERY lazy day parked up on the couch, it’s a hard life, haha!! It’s been another week dictated by the weather and although I had no luck at Sedgefield at least it was on and I was just happy to be going racing. The north has definitely lost more meetings than the south this year so hopefully the BHA will take note and put on a few more extra meetings to help us out up here. Something has to be done!
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)