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 10th December
My dog (Bonnie) went missing last night so I was when I woke up this morning I was desperate that she would have come home….no joy!! I felt pretty helpless as I was in Scotland and couldn’t even offer a hand to help look. However I had a job to do at Musselburgh and had to put it to the back of my mind and get on with my 2 rides. Credit where it’s due the ground a Musselburgh today was in excellent nick. My first ride was called Knight Woodsman for R Mike Smith and ran in the conditionals chase. He jumped well but the drop back in trip proved too sharp for him, a step back up to 3 miles will suit him better. Parsons Punch who is trained by Lucy Normile was my second ride. He was a massive price considering he won handily the time before and I fancied my chances on him. It was a very rough race to ride in and I got no luck at all in running. He stayed on well towards the finish and was only beat 3 lengths and finished 6th, if they had gone quicker earlier on and I got a clean run I think he would have won. I also managed to get a day’s suspension for my troubles.
When I finally got home I got wrapped up to the nines and headed off into the woods to search for Bonnie.
Tuesday 11th December
I had no rides today at Sedgefield this afternoon and looking at the week ahead it doesn’t look like I’ll be riding till Musselburgh on Sunday, all being well, as there is not a lot of Northern racing this week. I went into Mark Johnston’s for four lots in the morning before continuing the search for Bonnie in the afternoon. Karen Sharpe from The Injured Jockeys Fund sent me a tweet with a link to a committee of professionals who specialize in finding terriers lost to ground, www.fellandmoorlandwtceastmids.com. I sent them an email before going to ride out and they were here within a few hours. Although we were unable to locate the dog they were searching here for at least 6 or 7 hours and were fantastic. There’s nothing worse than locking the door the night knowing fine well your dog is out there in the cold waiting to be found; worried sick wouldn’t even come close.
Wednesday 12th December
Everyone was going on about it being the 12/12/12, all I was hoping was that today would bring me a bit of luck and send Bonnie back to where she belongs. It was a proper winter’s morning for riding out, it was sunny and not a cloud in the sky but by god it was absolutely freezing. As a result Hexham and Leicester were both abandoned today and tomorrows meetings Huntingdon and Ludlow suffered the same fate. It wouldn’t be as bad if the racing we lost due to the weather was rescheduled for another day but unfortunately only a handful of them are and the rest are history. Not only that but most jump trainers only really want you in to ride out if they have horses for you to school so I’m probably quite lucky to have Mark Johnston’s on my doorstep as you can’t school on frozen ground.
After riding out I went around the local farms to ask the farmers if they had seen my dog anywhere and never got any joy. If she wasn’t a terrier I probably would have lost all hope by now but I’ve herd too many stories of Jack Russell’s disappearing for weeks at a time before returning like nothing’s happened, so I’ll keep trying day and day out.
Thursday 13th December
It was another bitter morning for riding out, -7.5 to be precise. If you get wrapped up enough it’s grand riding out in temperatures like that but the only the only thing I find impossible to keep warm are my feet, they were like blocks of ice by the time I go off my last lot at 1 o’clock. We had another look for our dog as soon as I got home and had no joy. I came up with a bit of a brainwave and rang Dyno-rod who specialize in unblocking drains underground. They stick a camera on the end of a large rod and send it down to see what the problem is so we were hoping that the camera would show the whereabouts of Bonnie so we could begin to dig her out. The Dyno-Rod engineer that rang me back is a member of a terrier club in the area and has plenty of experience in this sort of thing….what are the chances of that?! Turns out he couldn’t use his cameras but did a have a terrier with him who was fitted with a tracking collar and more than happy to go down the holes looking. Unfortunately we had no luck and weren’t any closer to finding her.
Friday 14th December
I couldn’t wait for 10 o’clock to come round so I knew where and what I’d be riding this weekend. I had 4 lots to ride out and it was just after 2nd lot that Paul (my agent) rang me to fill me in. He told me I had been booked to go to Musselburgh on the Sunday for 3 rides, 2 for Pat Homes and 1 for Lucy Normile and that I had 9.11 to do in the bumper. I have been careful not to be eating too much recently so with a couple of day’s notice 9.11 will not be an issue. It’s been a real quiet week with no racing so I was happy to hear that I had been booked for 3. Musselburgh however did announce this morning that they will inspect tomorrow afternoon for Sundays meeting but with temperatures to rise a fair bit I am fairly hopeful.
I hadn’t long been back from riding out when I heard Kelly start screaming like there’s no tomorrow, this time though she wasn’t screaming at me but for me. When I went to run downstairs I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as she was carrying Bonnie up the stairs towards me. She had been missing for 5 days and we were beginning to lose hope. She was quite thin, very muddy and wet but otherwise seemed OK and we were just so happy to have her back. I would just like to thank everyone who has sent us so many lovely messages and helped search for her, we really are extremely grateful so Thank You!!
Saturday 15th December
I had 4 lots this morning in at Mark Johnston’s before getting ready to head north to my home town Haddington for the evening. Thankfully the temperatures have risen and Musselburgh announced that racing will be going ahead with no problems at all…thank god! Kelly and Myself were supposed to be going to Mr Johnston’s Christmas party tonight at the Blacksheep brewery in Masham, but with me having 9st 11lbs tomorrow I had to spend the evening losing weight and not putting it on so had to give that one a wide swerve. After a bit of a catch up with my mum and watching the replays from earlier on in the day I left Kelly and my mum to it and went for a sweat in the bath in the evening. I always take the laptop in with me and watch an episode or two of Live At The Apollo or Mrs Browns Boys to pass the time. If I tried to sit in the bath without anything to keep me occupied I wouldn’t last 5 minutes, but I could sit in it and laugh away to myself for hours with a decent comedy program on.
Sunday 16th December
I had 3 rides today at Musselburgh, 2 for Patrick Holmes and 1 for Lucy Normile. My first ride Pirate Chest jumped brilliant for a first timer but he was just minding himself a bit more than I would have liked. Cruachan ran very well in what rode like an above average juvenile hurdle, he jumped great and was very fluent over his obstacles finished 5th. Hurry On Lil was running well in the bumper until she stumbled slightly in the home straight and lost her action, she seemed fine after race so she may possibly just have knocked herself a bit.
Danny Cook had a great day today riding 4 winners; I even managed to get my hands on one of the bottles of champagne that he won!
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)