horse racing

Zander Voy’s Blog: Lesters, Peter Toole and New Jacket!

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 25th March

Not a lot has been happening on the racetrack the last couple of weeks. Meetings have been getting abandoned left, right and centre, although conditions are expected to pick up from now on-wards the jump season is getting quieter each week as the flat season picks up momentum by the minute. As things stand I am down to ride at Wetherby on Wednesday which still has a slight covering of snow to shift for the meeting to survive. Looking beyond Wednesday the only other meetings where I may ride is Southwell on Thursday and Carlisle on Saturday. With no racing today all I had to do was ride out in the morning. I went into Mark Johnston’s for second lot on-wards  as they have breakfast after first lot going in for second lot at 8am means an extra couple of hours in bed, just the job!!

Tuesday 26th March 

I haven’t managed to get myself into Patrick Homes yard since last Thursday, so rather than do a full mornings work at Mark Johnston’s I just put myself down for three lots, giving me time to go into Patrick’s for a further two lots to ride. Myself, Fearghal Davis, James Reveley and a few of the other boys went over to Catterick Leisure Centre tonight for a game of 5-a-side football, our final training session before the big match (if it’s on) at Middleham Open Day this Friday. James must of heard through the grape fine that I fancy myself as a bit of a chef, he rang to say he would be over a little bit early and then rocked up on my doorstep three hours before football, bang on tea time…coincidence?? I don’t think so!! It has been almost two years since the legend that is Peter Toole suffered his career ending fall at Aintree on Grand National Day. I was invited to go to his leaving do by the man himself last Saturday in Lambourn, but as I had commitments to ride out on Sunday I sadly couldn’t make it. I only knew Peter through speaking to him at the races, but when I fractured my back in a fall last year I went down to Lambourn to spend a week at Oaksey House where Peter was also staying at the time and I got to know him a lot more. Obviously we spent most of our times there in the gym working our little cotton socks off but we also found the time to go for a pint or two which Peter enjoyed quite a lot. He never lost his flair and still fancies himself as a bit of a ladies man, some guys just have the chat, and Peter is one of them!! His successful career was cut-short but his courage and determination to get back to where he is now is nothing less than inspirational. Take a look here and see him back in the saddle doing what he does best >>> . I really do wish him all the best now that he is back in his native Ireland where he plans to break in and bring on young horses before selling them on.

Wednesday 28th March

At the start of the week it was looking as if I would be at Wetherby today, however It’s A Story never got declared to run due to the ground so I had to settle for watching the racing at home. It was another fairly miserable morning for riding out with the snow coming down fairly heavily. I was in at Mark Johnston’s all morning where I rode out four lots. The BHA have put on an extra meeting tomorrow, a jumpers bumper card at Southwell. I was booked on two this morning but one of them was also not declared as it suffered a minor setback at home so I was left with one. As the cold snap has outstayed its welcome Kelly decided to go out and buy the dog a nice new jacket, and I have to say I think she suits it quite well.

I did, however, get a few funny looks when I took her for a walk around Catterick in the afternoon.

An early night was on the cards as I have a very busy day and a guaranteed late night tomorrow!

Thursday 28th March

The day of the Lesters!! I’ve been like a kid at Christmas looking forward the big do in Birmingham tonight. Before that though, I had three lots at Karl and Elaine Burkes. I dropped it into conversation with the boss (Kelly) that I thought she should drive to the Lesters as I drove last year, I was absolutely stunned and very nearly dropped dead on the spot when she agreed, what a legend.! The drive to Birmingham isn’t exactly pleasant at the best of times but going there via Southwell makes it even worse…for her! When you ride on the all-weather around Southwell you don’t want to be too far back as the kick back is absolutely horrendous, so I decided to jump off handy away and try get Copt Hill to settle as he can sometimes be slightly too forward going for his own good. They went a right gallop upfront and my lad was struggling when they kicked for home and just plugged on. We kicked straight on to Birmingham afterwards for what was an absolutely brilliant night at the Lesters, not that I can remember a hell of a lot, but that normally means it was a good night! The best part of the night for me was Campbell winning the Special Recognition award. He loved going to the Lesters, and was there every year without fail!! It wasn’t quite the same not having him at our table this year…

Zander at the Lesters…

Friday 30th March

We left Birmingham at lunch time hoping we could get back in time to catch the end of the Middleham open day. The feature of the day was last year’s Grand National winner Neptune Collonges who was parading at Karl and Elaine’s. The Good Friday traffic was an absolute nightmare and what would normally take around two hours forty minutes ended up taking us over four hours. And with a head on me like a bag of bricks it felt like an eternity!! It was tonight that I heard the sad news that J T McNamara had been confirmed as paralysed following his fall from Galaxy Rock at The Cheltenham Festival. You would never wish that upon your worst enemy and I wish him and his family all the best. It certainly puts things into perspective that’s for sure.

Saturday 30th March 

With Primrose Time not getting declared at Carlise today I agreed to turn my hand to box driving to help out Karl and Elaine as they had runners at three separate meetings. Beforehand I gave Fair Loch his final piece of work in preparation for Aintree which is one week away. I was very happy with him and I am really looking forward to riding him in Aintree’s champion bumper. If he can build on his last run (which he won without coming off the bridle) then there is no reason why he can’t run a big race…fingers crossed!! After first lot I was told the horse I was taking up to Musselburgh was no longer running, so Karl gave me another three lots to keep me busy. Michael Butters who is one of my good friends from back home came down this afternoon to stay with us for a couple of days. He even cooked me dinner tonight so he’s more than welcome to come back anytime he wants!! My next door neighbour also came over, and just like Michael got a lesson at FIFA!!

Sunday 31st March 

As Michael was down I decided not to bother going into Mark Johnstons this morning to ride out and opted for a much needed long lie! We headed to Catterick Market to try find ourselves a bargain, Michael got a bone for his dog for a whopping 85p and I managed to haggle for three boxes of strawberries for just a quid!! Job done, meet Dell Boy and Rodney!! I used the advantage of the clocks going forward an hour to my favour and went for a 4 mile run in the evening as it was still light, just to get some sort of exercise in today!! I had another early night as I have three rides tomorrow at Newcastle, a good way to start of the week. Fingers crossed for a winner!!

See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂

All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)

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