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 March
I didn’t have a bad week last week so I hope this week can be just as good as the last. I was riding at Southwell later on in the afternoon so I went into Mark Johnston’s for four lots before going racing. I parked up at Wetherby services and hopped in with Jonathon England who also just had the one ride. My ride was Hope For Glory who is trained in Middleham by Jason Ward. I rode him first time out at Wetherby last month, and he showed enough that day to suggest he would run well today as long as he handled the quicker ground. There were only seven runners and I dropped in him to switch him off and get him to settle. The race turned into a bit of a sprint and he was just one paced and plugged on to finish fourth. I wasn’t really disappointed in all fairness as the race wasn’t run to suit and the quicker ground clearly didn’t play to his strengths. He is still green but we learnt a bit about him today, a return to soft-ish ground and ridden closer to the pace should do the trick.
Tuesday 5th March
Today I was racing at Newcastle where I had one ride in the very first race of the day. This time I only had enough time to ride out a couple of lots beforehand. On the plus side I had scrounged myself a lift from fellow Scotsman Ryan Mania as he was coming back to my house after racing along with Peter Carberry to play football in the evening. The only downside being I have to feed the pair of them before we do anything. You may think that’s an easy task as jockeys are not supposed to eat much, but believe you me these lads could quite easily eat you out of house and home. I was riding a horse called Silverton who was making her hurdle debut and is trained by Lucy Normile. I won on Silverton’s full brother Sunnyside a couple of years back and he was a thorough stayer. She was running over two miles today so I wanted to make use of her stamina best I could and decided to make the running on her. She jumped great and was not without a chance at the second last but as you’d expect she got done for toe when they quickened going down into the final flight. She will never be a two miler as long as the grass is green so for her to run like that over that trip was quite promising I thought. She is definitely her brother’s sister, and just like him, will need every yard of three miles. Peter was staying at mine in the evening so after an hour’s football it was an early bed as we both have fairly early starts in the morning.
Wednesday 6th March
I had three rides at Catterick to look forward to today and yet again the ride to start me off was in the first race. However, with Catterick Racecourse pretty much on my doorstep I managed to get a full mornings riding out done before hand, keeps the wage packet nearer full than empty which is what we like to see!! No Quarter was my ride in the first race and is trained by Tracey Waggot. All his best form is on the flat over six and seven furlongs; he was too keen early doors and didn’t get home over today’s two miles. Although doesn’t quite get home over jumps the change of scenery has probably done him the world of good, and being fit from jumping he may be one to be on the right side of when he converts back to the level. Bocamix was my second ride and was running in the two mile novice chase. I rode him last time also over two miles and all he seemed to do that day is stay. Catterick is a sharp two miles and I was just on the back foot before he stayed on again up the straight. For a novice he jumped really well and a switch to handicap company over two and a half miles should do the trick for him. My final ride of the day was Sea Cliff and was running in the two mile three furlong handicap hurdle. It was quite a competitive race with lots of pace from the start. I dropped him in and planned to come with a late run. He jumped and traveled really well making my job easy. He finished a good fourth in the end at odds of 20/1. Not a bad run and he will come on a bit for it as well.
Thursday 7th March
I only had the one ride today which was in the 4:50 at Carlisle. Carlisle is just under two hours from home so I managed to squeeze in a full mornings riding out beforehand. On my way home after fourth lot I spotted Joe Colliver in my rear view mirror, that was my cue to ring him and hitch a lift. It was my turn to drive him but I used the excuse he had two rides and I just had the one so it wouldn’t be fair if I had to do the donkey work and earn less money. My ride today was Primrose Time who is trained by my old boss Lucy Normile, a mare that I have won two chases on in the past. She jumped great but the ground was too quick for and when the pace quickened she struggled for toe, to then stay on again up the hill. She does still have plenty of ability but the key to her is testing conditions. With Joe Colliver riding in the last race I decided to hop in with John ‘Buddy’ Winston who had managed to collect himself three penalty points and a sixty pound fine on his way to the races this morning. Thankfully he got us home safely without any encounters with the police, just in time for a quiet night parked up on the sofa.
Friday 8th March
Things are starting to wind down for me as I have a fairly quiet weekend a head. Declarations came out this morning and the only ride I am booked for is in the first race at Ayr tomorrow. With no rides booked today I went into Mark Johnston’s and rode out four lots. In the afternoon I took my car down to Catterick Racecourse and ran round a couple of laps for a pipe opener, I don’t have light weight or anything tomorrow but I would bore myself to death doing nothing all afternoon. For the first time ever I even ended up turning my hand to housework when I got back, it wasn’t really through choice, more of an order from the boss (Kelly)!
Saturday 9th March
Black Velvet Belle who is trained by Lucy Normile was my only ride this weekend and was running in the first race which was the three mile novice hurdle. Before I left I watched Jump Lads, a documentary on jump jockeys Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh and Davy Russel. It is well worth a watch if you get the chance, it would be good to see more of that sort of thing on our televisions rather than some of the garbage they put on it nowadays like The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea!! Back to racing, Ayr was on yesterday as well and the track took a bit of a battering which left the ground in pretty desperate nick. As a result there were non-runners galore, thankfully mine wasn’t one of them although there were five non-runners in her race alone. I drove to Penrith where I parked up and jumped in with Peter Carberry who kindly offered to drive. Black Velvet Belle didn’t really handle the heavy going at all and I ended up pulling her up halfway down the back straight second time round. After the second race I was hoping to kick on home sharpish, but Peter, to his delight managed to pick himself up a spare in the very last race which meant I had a long day of waiting around ahead of me.
Mark Johnston’s assistant trainer Jock Bennet won the employee of the year award at last week’s Godolphin stud and stable staff awards. To celebrate Mr Johnston threw a party at the White Swan in Middleham tonight so I went along to join in the celebration and have a cheeky beer or two.
Sunday 10th March
After riding out this morning I was chuffed to bits to come home to a tasty fry up sitting on the kitchen table that Kelly had put together for myself and Peter, just what the doctor ordered!!
An afternoon of chilling on the sofa and watching the racing was about the height of it. Although I have had no winners this week I still can’t complain as I have been fairly busy, and at the very least I’m still in one piece. Looking forward to the week ahead I’m not expecting to be overly busy myself but with the Cheltenham Festival kicking off on Tuesday I have plenty to keep me occupied. Picking winners is a difficult task at the very best of times, but to pick a festival winner is even harder, best of luck on finding them!!
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)