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 15th October
Along with a few other Jockeys I was asked to go to Musselburgh racecourse today by Harriet Graham, the clerk of the course there. Musselburgh have put in a new All-Weather bend on the jumps course. It is positioned on the bend leaving the stands and the idea is to stop the ground getting churned up through the winter. Lucinda Russell, James Ewart and Nick Alexander were the trainers who provided the horses; I was riding one for James Ewart. We galloped over 2 miles and rode the new bend the same way we would ride a race. Personally I think it rode very well and will no doubt make life that bit easier for everyone concerned; Jockeys, horses, ground staff etc.
Because I was due to go up to Musselburgh anyway I drove the horsebox for my girlfriend’s parents Karl and Elaine Burke as they had a runner in the first race. So after galloping it was my job to saddle their runner and leg up the jockey. BOLD MARC was ridden by their very good 7lb claimer Conor Harrison, he gave him a good ride and finished 2nd at odds 18/1.
Entries also came out today for Kelso on Saturday. After taking a look to see what was pencilled in to run I spotted my name next to Willie Amos’s superstar LIE FORRIT. Although I knew I was going to be riding him it still felt strange seeing my name next to his. For me horses as good as him are few and far between as it is, but especially under the circumstances, words cannot describe how much of a privilege it is to have been asked to ride him. I am more than up for it!
Tuesday 16th October
Normally I would go into Chris Grants on a Monday but due to my commitments yesterday I went in today instead. There was plenty going on with horses working and schooling and I ended up with 5 lots. I gave MICRO MISSION a pop over a few fences as she has been pencilled in to run in a novice chase at Kelso on Saturday, for a small filly she has an incredible amount of scope. She is a horse who runs well fresh and I am looking forward to getting back on her.
I worked a horse called TEARS FROM HEAVEN who I won a 3 mile chase on around Musselburgh back in January. He’s another who can make his presence felt in the right grade this season. Just before I left Chris’s I gave ROCK RELIEF, who I ride tomorrow, a pop over a few obstacles just to freshen his memory in the jumping department, thankfully all went well.
Chris’s yard seems to be growing all the time and with a bit of luck we will have another good season.
This afternoon I had a reporter from The Scottish Sun ring me up asking my thoughts on LIE FORRIT for the weekend, I have a feeling he won’t be the only one picking up the phone this week.
Wednesday 17th October
When I was in the car on the way home from riding out things started going pear shaped for my four wheeled friend. All the warnings lights lit up like Blackpool illuminations, the power steering locked up and the engine died on me…Brilliant!! Now to be fair she is no supercar and has had more hits than The Beatles but it’s not an ideal situation when I needed it to get to Wetherby for the last race. Every year I always say I’ll keep it to get me through this winter but I think this could be her last. Lots of the jockeys have sponsored cars where companies put their logo on it and use it as advertising; something that I would definitely take if I were lucky enough. On the plus side of the car downing tools it meant that it was Barry Keniry’s turn to drive racing….Again!!
The track at Wetherby was in great nick to be fair considering the weather over the past few weeks. It’s one of my favourite tracks to ride around, with its long straights and galloping nature you don’t get too many hard luck stories which means the winner is usually the best horse on the day. For a mid-week race day it was good racing with competitive fields.
My ride was on ROCK RELIEF who is trained by Chris Grant and owned by my sponsor David Armstrong. He is a very consistent sort who does nothing flashy, all he does his gallop, so the step up to 2 mile 6 furlongs looked to be a good move. He travelled and jumped well and finished a good 5th, he will come on from the run and no doubt will be winning again.
Thursday 18th October
I was back into (Mark) Johnston’s this morning for 4 lots. It’s that time of year where the flat yards are busy, although their season is quieting down all the time, the yearlings are in and getting ridden away. Mark has them in abundance and looks like he will have another nice batch of 2 year olds for next year. After riding out I took a run down to the garage in Middleham to get the lowdown on my not so healthy looking car. Considering the way she was acting yesterday I thought the news going to be bad, very bad. However, I was delighted when the fella said all she needed was a new alternator, it felt like riding a winner!! Happy days, she lives to fight another day!
In the afternoon I headed off for another session in the gym. I won’t be racing till Saturday at best so the best way to keep fit and keep the weight in check is for a good hours boxing training.
I headed over to spend the evening at Barry Keniry’s in Leyburn which is only a couple of miles down the road. A quiet lad’s night in, and I even managed to get him to cook my dinner…it was edible but he’s no Gordon Ramsay!
Friday 19th October
With it being 24hour declarations for jumps I’ve been chomping at the bit for all week for Friday to come around as tomorrow is an important day in my racing calendar. At 10 O’clock, when decs came out, I was straight onto the case to see what I was riding. 2 rides – MICRO MISSION and LIE FORRIT – I was more than happy with that.
After riding out I got myself parked up on the sofa to watch Cheltenham. It’s been far too long since their last meeting, and its great see the best jump track in the world back on our screens; proper racing!
Unfortunately I could only watch the first 4 or 5 races as I went off to have another session in the gym. Both my horses have plenty weight tomorrow so I wasn’t trying to lose weight or anything but I want to make sure I am fit…no excuses.
I know MICRO MISSION like the back of my hand but having never ridden LIE FORRIT in a race I did my homework and watched a fair few of his races. You can watch all the Racing UK replays for free on the Sportinglife website and all the Attheraces replays free on their own website. He has had more good days at the races than bad but it brought back a lot of emotion for me watching the replays of my best friend Campbell partnering him to those wonderful victories, if ever a horse and jockey were made for each other, they were! The perfect combination!!
Saturday 20th October
With Kelso being a bit of a drive I didn’t have too much time to ride out. I managed to squeeze 1 lot in at Elaine Burkes before heading off racing. I met up with another good friend of mine Fearghal Davis and we headed up together, I even managed to get him to drive which was a result. Both of us were in the 2nd race which was the 2 mile 7 furlong novice chase; my ride was a favourite of mine…MICRO MISSION. I can’t help but love her; she is very small, but she thinks she is 18 hands, I love her determination and never say die attitude.
She is the sort of mare who will gallop all day so the steady pace didn’t particularly suit her. I pressed the leaders all the time to try and inject a bit of pace into the race. We got very slightly outpaced after the 3rd last but she battled back and flew home to only get beat 3/4 a length. She finished 2nd and ran a blinder, a very encouraging first run over regulation fences.
I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye putting on the silks carried by LIE FORRIT. A lot of the lads came up to me in the weighing room wishing me luck beforehand and the amount of support and messages I got from people that day was unbelievable and I very much appreciated all of it. However, I had a race to ride so I did the best I could to put everything else to the back of my mind and get on with my job.
LIE FORRIT ran in the 3 mile 2 furlong handicap chase. He travelled and jumped like the classy animal he is, I couldn’t have been any happier with him going down into the fourth last fence, he got in a little tight to it and did the same again at the third last. By this point we were all racing now and push was turning to shove, he got very tired and finished mid-field. The ground was heavy all round and with him having been off the track for a while he was entitled to need the run. I was not disappointed at all with his performance as there were plenty positives to take from it. I would like to say a big thank you to Campbell’s mother Lesley, Grandfather John and Uncle Crawford for giving me the ride on him.
Believe me when I say the going was very heavy….we even managed to get our car stuck in the car park!!
Sunday 21st October
First day off I’ve had in ages and I used it to my full advantage and done absolutely nothing!!! After watching my replays from yesterday countless times I got myself parked up on the sofa and drank cup after cup of tea and watched the football….Living the dream some might say!
No winners this week but plenty of promising performances and no bumps and bruises so it has not been a bad one.
I will see you all again next week…
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)