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 5th November
It was a fairly quiet day today that consisted of nothing much more that my usual riding out routine. This morning was the first morning I had to defrost the windscreen on my car and for some that can be a bit of a pain in the backside but I see that as a bit of good sign as it means winter is well and truly upon us.
Entries came out this afternoon for the weekend ahead and I was shaking my head in disbelief when I saw Musselburgh and Hexham were both on this Friday. There is no northern jumping Today, Tuesday or Wednesday so to have two on the same day is just very bad planning. Enough ranting about it though and on the other hand, however, I was pleased to see there was a good number of entries for the weekend so I was hopeful that from Thursday onwards I would be busy enough.
Tuesday 6th November
Today I was box-driver, assistant, and track rider all wrapped into one. I drove Elaine Burke’s horsebox with her two runners to Southwell this morning. It’s very different going racing from the other side of the spectrum and looking after the runners opposed to riding them, it requires a lot more good old fashioned hard graft. Stable lads and lasses are the backbone of racing and I don’t think they get anywhere near the amount of recognition they deserve. I helped Mrs Burkes husband Karl saddle up the runners and then had to dash off back to the box to get changed. Another horsebox had arrived with four more of Mrs Burke’s horses, they were galloping after racing and it was my job to ride one of them. The others were ridden by Conor Harrison, Michael Metcalfe and Shane Kelly.
After galloping I was back on the road home via Doncaster sales with the two runners, they were due to go through the sales ring tomorrow morning. It is a nightmare trying get through Doncaster city centre at the best of times but at half 5 on a sales day it is absolutely soul destroying. Thankfully though with an empty wagon the road home was far quicker and easier, and after a long day another early night was in store.
Wednesday 7th November
I was back into Mark Johnston’s again this morning. I know he has no jumpers there but with spares hard to come by at the minute it is important to keep a wage coming in every week. After riding out there I was back on the road to head to Doncaster, which is about 1 Hour 40 Minutes away, to school a 3yo juvenile filly called Rhyme Royal who is trained by Mairi Wilson. Rhyme Royal was a little careful over her hurdles early on but on the whole she jumped very well. Mairi only has a handful of horses as she is only just getting going but she seems to know her stuff so hopefully we can get a few winners for each other in the future. Rhyme Royal is entered on Sunday at Market Rasen, the race itself only has one or two fancied horses in it so hopefully my filly can a run a nice sort of race.
Thursday 8th November
At 10 o’clock this morning I was on and off the phone to my agent every 30 seconds, Musselburgh and Hexham are both on tomorrow so we were working out where would be the best place to try and get another winner. We ended up opting for Musselburgh where I would be reunited with Parsons Punch who is trained by Lucy Normile and is owned by Kenny MacNicol. I have ridden him plenty before and I think the sharp track at Musselburgh will suit him to a tee. He seems to run well fresh and having won after a break last year at Kelso and I am hoping things go our way tomorrow!
In the afternoon Nathan Moscrop, myself and my little dog headed off for a run around Middleham moor. Nathan is over 6 foot tall so he has to work very hard to keep his weight down and he does a good job of it in all fairness, on the other hand I am only 5ft 7 so I guess I’m lucky in that respect.
In the evening I watched a few replays of Parson Punch’s previous races to get myself prepared for tomorrow and try to spot anything than may help me get a better run out of him.
Friday 9th November
I didn’t have time to ride out this morning as I was in the first race at Musselburgh. I picked up Ryan Clarke from Middleham and we headed up to my native Scotland for a good days racing. I love riding for my old boss Lucy Normile and her Assistant Libby Brodie, Lucy is one of the most under rated and nicest trainers you could ever wish to meet and it would be nice to see them get some top horses and have the success they deserve.
Musselburgh is quite a sharp track and if the leaders get first run they can prove rather difficult to peg back at times, so with that in the back of my mind I was keen to get a good start and be no further back than halfway! I tracked the leader and went the shortest way around down the rail. There was a lot of chaos with horses falling and unseating behind me but I was totally un-aware and kicked for home turning into the home straight to try and slip the field and get that vital first run. Parsons Punch flew the last 3 flights and won by 18 lengths and returned ridiculous odds of 33/1. He pulled up the time before so it was a great training performance from the whole Normile team to get him to bounce back to winning ways.
A great result, a very happy owner, trainer and jockey!!
Saturday 10th November
It was the final day of the flat season today (thank god!) so after riding out four lots I got parked up on the sofa to watch Richard Hughes get crowned champion for the first time. He is poetry in motion on the back of a horse and I could sit and watch him ride winners all day long. He is the finished article as a jockey and no one deserved to become champion more than him. It was also a huge achievement from Amy Ryan on becoming the first ever female champion apprentice, it has always been a male dominated sport but that has been changing slowly over the past few years and watching Amy getting interviewed after getting crowned champion you could just tell how much that it meant to her.
In the evening Kelly and I attended the wedding of (Flat jockey) Mick and Becky O’Connell. As I was riding tomorrow I nominated myself as designated driver with my only rule being that I decided when we came home! When I started riding Mick was riding over jumps and was conditional to Ferdy Murphy. He has done very well since switching codes and has never looked back; I hope they have a long and happy marriage!!
Sunday 11th November
Rhyme Royal was my only ride today at Market Rasen. For a first timer she didn’t half jump well, they didn’t go any sort of gallop and the race turned into a bit of a sprint. She is not the quickest in the world and all she seems to do is stay so when they upped the tempo down the back straight she was caught a little flat footed, however she galloped all the way to line and will be better suited coming off a stronger gallop next time.
I was booked today for Julia Too who runs tomorrow (Monday) at Carlisle, it looks a decent little novice hurdle to be fair, but she did lose her maiden tag at the first time of asking so hopefully we can make it 2 from 2.
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)