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 3rd December
When I walked out the door this morning my heart sank as I stepped onto the snow! Straight away I was hoping Catterick had avoided it as I am supposed to be riding there Wednesday. Hopefully if the weather doesn’t go against us too much there is a fair chance I could be reasonably busy this week as there is plenty of meetings scheduled. I went into Mark Johnston’s for four lots this morning. His yard is only a couple of miles away so it’s ideal when the roads are bad as at least I don’t have to drive too far early in the morning. Entries came out this afternoon for the following weekend and I noticed Garleton had an entry on Saturday for Aintree’s Becher chase meeting. There was also one or two horses entered at Wetherby that I could potentially ride if Garleton where to give Aintree a swerve.
I booked the hall at Catterick’s Leisure Centre tonight for 5-a-side football. 10 of us turned up full of energy raring to go, by the time we had ran around like headless chickens for an hour we pretty much fell out the hall door absolutely knackered.
Tuesday 4th December
I was on the road early this morning to ride out for Richard Guest who trains just outside Doncaster. I have never ridden out there before so it’s great to get another contact. It was quite a busy morning in there and I rode out 7 lots. As soon as I un-tacked my last lot I was straight into the car to head to over to Bawtry to school a couple for Mairi Wilson. She is intending to run Rhyme Royal at Market Rasen on Thursday and she just wanted to get her off the ground and refresh her memory before her race. After riding out my 9 lots I was fairly happy to get into the car and head home for the afternoon. I got a phone call on the journey home from my agent Paul Brierley to discuss my booked rides for the week ahead. He said that I am booked to ride for 8 different trainers over the next 5 days starting tomorrow with Coax who runs in the conditional jockey’s race at Catterick and is trained by Patrick Holmes. All we need is a bit of luck with the weather and a bit of luck in running then we might be able to get some more winners on the board.
Wednesday 5th December
Catterick was holding an 8am inspection this morning to see if the track was raceable. I had only just got off my first lot when my agent text me to say that it passed its inspection and it was all systems go. I had a second lot to ride out before heading off racing and Catterick is only 20 minutes from Middleham so I didn’t have too far to drive thankfully. My only ride on the card was the Patrick Holmes trained Coax. I rode him to get the trip by dropping him in a bit down the rail going the shortest way around. He travelled and jumped brilliantly, I was in a great position turning in but he got a little tired in the final quarter mile, I liked him a lot and a drop back to 2 miles will definitely bring out the best in him next time. I have a couple of rides tomorrow at Market Rasen and one of them is the Richard Guest trained Catawollow who I have never ridden before. I watched a couple of her replays in the evening to try and get to know her a bit before getting the leg up tomorrow afternoon.
Thursday 6th December
As my first ride at Market Rasen today was at 12.20 so I didn’t have an awful lot of time to ride out beforehand. My plan was to go into Mark Johnston’s for first lot and then pick up Joe Colliver and head racing. When I got off my first lot I had a text from my agent to say racing had been abandoned due to frost. I had 2 rides and one of them was favorite so I was gutted, no rides = no pay…again. They tell us global warming is a bad thing and we should do what we can to prevent it, I’m not convinced because all this cold weather seems to do is cost everyone money. I had only booked myself into Mr Johnston’s for 1 lot so with racing abandoned my days work was done by 8.20 which only left one thing for it….A day on the good old Playstation with Fearghal Davis .
On days like this I really do feel sorry for the groundstaff at the racecourses. Their hard work is all behind the scenes and they spend week after week on getting the ground safe, moving rails and hurdles, covering take offs and landings etc… and they have done it all for nothing. Obviously we can’t help the weather so we just have to keep the head down, keep riding out and pray it gets better, there is still plenty of racing between now and the end of the season.
Friday 7th December
No northern racing today so it was purely a case of another day another dollar. I got wrapped up to the nines in the thermals and waterproofs as it was fairly bitter outside and went and rode out 4 lots at Mark Johnston’s. On the cold winter mornings all the lads riding out are always well wrapped up, at times it often looks like a bunch of Michelin Men sat up on the horses backs. Jump racing is always 24 hour declarations except on a Friday where it is 48 hour declarations which is a good thing as it allows you know where you stand for the weekend ahead. Garleton hadn’t been declared at Aintree tomorrow which left me with a blank day there and I was pretty unlucky as far as the Kelso declarations for Sunday were concerned. Bright Applause who I was down to ride for Tracey Waggot missed the cut by 2 and I had to get off Pop Socks who is also trained by Tracey to ride the Willie Amos trained Julia Too as I have already won on her and they were in the same race. 3 rides turned to 1 in the blink of an eye. I won’t be complaining though as it looks a winnable race if my filly can reproduce her Hexham win. There is one thing we must beat first though….the bloody weather!!!
Saturday 8th December
I was up early enough to head over to Malton to ride out 4 lots for John Wainwright. The main reason for going there was to ride a piece of work on good old Oniz Tiptoes who John is hoping to run in the next couple of weeks. He is an old timer (Oniz Tiptoes not John!) but there is plenty of life in the old dog yet and I think all being well he still has the ability to pick up a race or two this season. It’s an hour and a half’s drive each-way so by the time I had finished riding out I was hot footing it to get back and watch the racing. With the likes of Sprinter Sacre running in the Tingle Creek and two races over the big fences at Aintree they are not the sort of thing to be missed. We certainly weren’t let down. Sprinter Sacre was electric and looks to be the best 2 mile chaser we have seen bar none and Hello Bud and Little Josh winning both races over the national fences and completed a treble for the Twiston-Davies family.
National Hunt racing doesn’t get any better than what we witnessed today, top stuff!!
Sunday 9th December
My ride at Kelso today wasn’t until 2:55 so I managed to squeeze 3 lots in at Mark Johnston’s beforehand. When I arrived my name was down on the urine sample list so I had to provide a sample before I did anything else. It’s not very often the testers are at the races and the jockeys picked is all at random as they wouldn’t have the time to test everyone. It’s a nightmare if you are doing a lightweight and have been sweating hard the day before to then find your name is on the list, on days like that providing a sample is a nightmare. Julia Too was upped in trip to 2 mile 6 furlongs today. She travelled possibly a little too well in the early stages, using a little more petrol than I would of liked. I was bang there turning in but when I asked her to go on and win the race she simply had nothing left to give and finished a weary fourth. A drop back in trip will be the next step; anything from 2 miles to 2 and a half miles will be ideal for her.
Thank you very much everyone and I’ll see you all next week.
All comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)