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 29th October
It doesn’t look like it is particularly going to be a busy week as far as race riding is concerned with only 3 or 4 meetings scheduled. I was back in at Chris Grants this morning for a few lots before getting back on the road and heading to North Wales for a spin around Bangor-On-Dee. There’s one thing that is essential to have being a jockey and that is a driving license. Although I often do push my luck and try and get lifts all the time I do clock up plenty of miles on my own car. I was lucky enough and passed my driving test at the first time of asking back when I was 17, I have accumulated a few points since and recently attended a soul destroying 4 hour speed awareness course.
My ride today was on John Wainwrights filly Sinnamara. She was travelling very well the last time I rode her when she took a heavy fall, so today I wanted to get her into I nice rhythm early doors and give her as much confidence as possible. She can be a bit of a tricky ride and can pull hard so I dropped her in a bit to make her drop the bit and relax. I got her settled straight away thankfully and she travelled and jumped like a dream. I was on the tails of the leaders approaching the third last but when push became shove she started to make a bit of a noise which would suggest she might have a breathing problem. I don’t think it is a major issue and perhaps could be fixed with a simple tongue tie.
Tuesday 30th October
I was back in at Mark Johnstons for 4 lots this morning and everything was going grand until fourth lot came along. I was down to ride a big 2 year old colt who has a reputation for being a bit of a jack the lad. He seemed quiet enough to me then out of nowhere he reared up vertical and his back legs gave way from underneath him and down he went, I was in no-mans land and he landed clean on top of me. I managed to keep a hold of him and he got up as if nothing even happened, not a bother on him. I was looking at this horse thinking “what a stupid bloody thing this is”. I jumped back on him and finished what we had started, thankfully neither him nor me were any worse off from our little mishap.
I was booked today to ride Garleton in the feature race at Wetherby on Saturday which is the well-known and valuable Charlie Hall Chase, a ride that is definitely worth looking forward to. On that note I got the running gear on and took the dogs for a run around the Middleham moor to keep the fitness levels and weight up to scratch.
Wednesday 31st October
Unfortunately I wasn’t riding at Haydock today but it’s great to see their jumps season is now underway. They have some fantastic racing there through the winter and it is a track I love riding around, hopefully I’ll be there next time round.
I was back into Mark Johnstons this morning for four lots. Thankfully, I had no horses fall over on top of me today and it was just a simple case of “another day another dollar”.
It was this afternoon that news came through that the great Kauto Star had been retired. He is a “freak” of a horse who produced the same top drawer performances year in and year out. I remember being a young 16 year old boy stood at the winning line the day he won his first Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, he made the rest of the field look like moderate handicappers, the exact same way he did on many other occasions. I think we have been privileged to have seen such a magnificent horse and I hope he has a long and happy well deserved retirement.
I have only just invested in a Playstation 3 and I was flat out playing Fifa online with Fearghal Davis all afternoon, something which both our girlfriends disapproves of quite strongly, thankfully though all jump jockeys have strong painkillers so the headache they gave us was no problem to get rid of….same again tomorrow afternoon Fearg!!!
Thursday 1st November
I was back into Mark Johnstons for a few lots. My agent rang me to say I had been booked for a couple of rides tomorrow at Wetherby and that one of them was at the lower end of the handicap carrying 10st 1lb which means I have to be 9st 12lb at the very heaviest, not too light but it did mean I had a couple pounds to shift. After riding out I rounded up the dogs and headed off for another run around Middleham moor which is about 4 miles round and opens up the pipes and the pores just nicely.
I got a phonecall in the evening to say I was not keeping the ride on Micro Mission who was getting declared for Wetherby on Saturday. Having already won two races on her in her first season, including a valuable handicap hurdle at at Ayrs Scottish National meeting, obviously I was absolutely gutted as she is a favourite of mine as I have already said in my previous blogs. Things like this happen to every jockey all the time unfortunately but it’s simply part of the game and you just have to get on with it. I’m not bitter at all to be honest and genuinely hope she can build on her good 2nd on her chase debut at Kelso when I rode her last. She is a horse with a bright future for sure and I will doing everything possible to get back on her and steer her into that winner’s enclosure yet again.
Friday 2nd November
I had 2 rides today at Wetherby, one for Chris Grant and one for John Wainwright. So after riding out I picked up Barry Keniry and Joe Colliver as it was my turn to drive.
My ride for Chris was in the first race on a horse called Storm To Pass and it was to be his second attempt over hurdles. He was a little keen on his first outing so my first objective was to get him settled and get him focussed on the job. He travelled very well and jumped brilliantly. It rode like quite a decent novice hurdle in all honesty and he will be better suited when he is switched to handicap company.
My ride for John was on a horse called Exit To Freedom. He was a little keen early doors and hung right throughout which wasn’t ideal. He was trying a tongue tie for the first time and I don’t think he particularly took to it as well as we would’ve liked. With the tongue tie removed and on better ground he will definitely win a little race up north at some stage.
I was booked today for 10st on Sunday so there was no big dinner waiting for me when I got home, a mixture of some fruit and an early night was about the height of it.
Saturday 3rd November
My good old friend Garleton didn’t get declared to run in the Charlie Hall Chase today and in my opinion it was probably for the best as he would have hated the testing ground. There was plenty of good National Hunt racing on offer and unfortunately I had no rides so after riding out I got parked up on sofa and tuned into the action. After being at the start of the first race at Wetherby yesterday and witnessing first hand AP McCoy getting a kick to the face I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he rode a winner this afternoon at Ascot, he’s just made from steel that fella! I guess that is just one of the many reasons he’s the best there has ever been. I think I watched every race in Great Britain this afternoon but with 10st tomorrow I got into the running gear and headed off with the dog for another run around the moor once the action on TV was finished. My weight is not bad at the minute but I do have to work hard to keep it down. If I let myself go even for a day or two my weight rockets up like there’s no tomorrow. Like I’ve said before I prefer to do most of my sweating at home if I can, so I finished of the evening by taking a pound or two off in the bath before going to bed for an early night. Thankfully after the bath I was down to 9stone 11lbs, perfect weight for tomorrow and means I can avoid the sauna at the races!
Sunday 4th November
I wasn’t due to be riding until 3:45 today so I went into Mark Johnston’s for 3 lots first. I had literally just untacked my 3rd lot when my agent (Paul Brierley) rang me to say my ride was a non-runner due to the heavy ground. Obviously I was slightly disappointed having got down to the required weight for the ride but as good old Harry Haynes would say “That’s Racing!!”. When I got back from riding out Kelly asked me if I fancied going out for some Sunday lunch, having hardly eaten anything for the last couple of days you could imagine how quickly I replied with the word…YES!!! We went to place called The Wensleydale Heifer which is in West Witton just down from Ferdy Murphy’s yard and if you are ever in the area you must go for yourself, the food is second to none!
It has been another quiet week and looks as if the start of next week will be quiet also, although it does get a little busier towards the end thank god, hopefully all being well I can get another winner on the board and get the ball rolling again.
Thank you very much everyone and I’ll see you all next week.
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)