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 4th February
After suffering from cabin fever the last couple weeks I was delighted to get back in the saddle at Doncaster today. As I wasn’t in until 4:35 I managed to do a full mornings riding out beforehand. I always get in as many lots as possible before going racing just to keep the wage packet nearer full than empty. I thought I had scored lucky by scrounging a lift from Joe Colliver but he ended up having to leave half an hour earlier than originally planned and I was still riding out so I had to go the trip solo. Doncaster has a large lounge in the weighing room where all the lads relax, eat like horses and play pool between races. When the feature race was on everyone was in there, all eyes fixed to the screen. Champion Hurdle fancy Darlan seemed to have the race at his mercy but very sadly took a heavy fall at the last that cost him his life. You could of heard a pin drop, all the lads went quiet and from that moment on hardly anyone spoke a word for the rest of the day. Although AP was unscathed he gave up his remaining rides, fair play. A sad day for National Hunt racing, thoughts go out to everyone at the Seven Barrows stable, horses like him are the superstars of our sport…RIP.
My ride today was on the Andrew Crook trained Rangefinder who was running in the final race, a competitive handicap with no fewer than 23 runners. The ground rode very dead indeed and Rangefinder didn’t handle it at all. He handles a little bit of cut but not sticky/dead, we finished midfield in the end. Goodish ground will bring the best out in him and that will be more than enough to pick up a race or two. The road home wasn’t so pleasant, trying to get through Doncaster city centre at rush hour is absolutely soul destroying!
Tuesday 5th February
There were 2 jump meetings scheduled today; Sedgefield where I was riding and Market Rasen who were expecting snow through the night so had an inspection planned for this morning, which, it passed with flying colours. Sedgfield had no inspection planned and was raceable, however, when the daylight came in so did the snow. After the 9 o’clock inspection was held and another was planned for 11 o’clock the weather didn’t deteriorate but it never improved enough to get rid of the snow; result = another meeting getting abandoned!! I was suppose to be riding Copt Hill who I had won a similar contest on a couple of weeks ago over course and distance, I thought he had a fair chance of following up so I was gutted not be going racing. He is in later on this week at Newcastle so hopefully we can get run next time round! As I was meant to be racing I had only put myself in for 3 lots this morning which left me a full afternoon to brush up on my FIFA skills, every cloud has a silver lining I guess!
Wednesday 6th February
I didn’t haven’t any racing today and had nothing planned other than my usual mornings riding out. Kelly was away to Southwell as they had a couple of runners on the all weather, so I was left to puppy sit all afternoon. I have no idea how I will cope with children in later life as little Darcy to me is a full time job! She is flat out here there and everywhere and is far from shy at leaving me the odd mess to clean up…the joys!! I have 10 stone tomorrow at Doncaster so with that in mind I skipped tea and had an early night.
Thursday 7th February
I was racing again today and was back at Doncaster for the second time this week. I went into Andy Crook’s for a couple lots before going racing, it was Fearghal Davis’s turn to drive so I even got myself a lift, just the job. I was riding Pobs Trophy who is trained by Richard Guest and was running in the in the 2 mile conditional jockeys handicap hurdle. I have only ridden him once before and that was on Boxing Day at Market Rasen where we took a very heavy fall at the 5th hurdle. With his last experience jump racing not a great one first and foremost I wanted to get him into a nice rhythm and get him enjoying himself. He went down and attacked the first flight and never touched a twig after that, clever pony. He needs quick summer ground on a sharp track so today’s track and ground didn’t play to his strengths at all. The fall hadn’t effected his confidence so when things fall right for him he will surely win again of his current mark. With Fearghal only in the second race the drive out of Donny was far more pleasant than it been for me on Monday and we got home nice and early. Another early bed night, I have a couple of spins at Newcastle tomorrow as long as it passes the precautionary inspection!
Friday 8th February
Thankfully Newcastle’s meeting today got the green light to go ahead. After a couple of lots in at Mark Johnstons I met up with Barry Keniry who was giving me lift, happy days! I had a couple of rides today, the first being Matmata De Tendron who is a mud loving veteran trained by Andy Crook. I was confident with the ground being absolutely bottomless I could get a good run from him. He is 13 years young and gave me a great spin, he jumped like a stag and made a lot of the running, he battled back very well when he got headed to finish a good 3rd at odds of 25/1. There’s plenty life left in the old boy yet and I’m positive he can, and will, win again before the curtain comes down on his career. My second ride was Copt Hill who is trained by Tracey Waggot and was bidding for back to back wins. Although I won on him last time out on heavy ground at Sedgefield, he never handled today’s ground at all and I knew I was beaten after the second hurdle, he finished a very weary 5th. Sedgefield heavy and Newcastle heavy are two totally different grounds, a return to a sharp track will bring out the best in him.
Saturday 9th February
With no racing for me today I didn’t have an awful lot to do. I went into Elaine Burke’s this morning for 4 lots then headed over to Andrew Crooks to school a couple that he has entered to run next week. I was giving Zazamix a pop over a few french hurdles which he was foot perfect at, he’s in at Catterick on Monday although that may be doubtful to be on as we are forecast a fair bit of snow in the next 48 hours, hopefully it stays away! I was playing chef again tonight (wearing the kilt pinnie of course!),on the menu was a prawn and chicken noodle stir-fry, a glass of red wine and Take Me Out on the tele; Saturday nights don’t get any better than that folks!
Sunday 10th February
As I do every Sunday I went into Mark Johnstons where I rode out 4 lots. I got back nice and early which was handy enough as my mum and step-dad where coming down to stay with us for a night or two, I have been looking forward to having them down as they haven’t seen the house yet but more importantly they haven’t met little Darcy!
It was good to be back racing this week with only the one interruption sadly, no winners, but at least we did hit the crossbar and were in the money, more importantly I’m still in one piece; we will try again next week!
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)