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 25th February
Over the past few weeks things haven’t being going too badly, I’ve been racing most days and although I am in need of a winner my rides all seem to be running to their merits. There was no racing in the north today so usual service will be resumed tomorrow at Catterick. Although I had a day off from racing I did go in and ride out four lots in the morning. My riding out boots decided to break on me and with no spares I’ve been forced to ride out in my racing boots. They are much thinner and barely have a sole on them, with it being fairly chilly at the minute by the time I got off my last lot my feet were like blocks of ice. The menders are not usually the quickest at doing repairs and if it doesn’t warm up quickly then I’ll prepare myself for a touch of frost bite in the near future. I was declared on a couple tomorrow at Catterick so with nothing planned in the afternoon Kelly and Myself took Darcy for her first ever experience of walking the track. I just wanted to have a look at the ground for myself and try and get a rough idea where the best ground might be. I think we found the walk a lot easier than puppy D as afterwards she done nothing but sleep and we never heard a peep from her all night, what a result!!
Tuesday 26th February
I had a couple of rides to look forward to today, they weren’t till later on in the afternoon and were just at my local track so I had time to do a full mornings riding out beforehand. My first ride was Two Oscars who is trained by Andrew Crook, having walked the track yesterday I decided to go down the middle for the better ground. Things didn’t go to plan with him and after a circuit we parted company, I was none the worse for my fall and brushed myself down ready for my second ride.
Fair Loch was running in the bumper and is trained by Kelly’s parents Karl and Elaine Burke. He has run a well on a couple of occasions but this was his first run for Karl and Elaine. He can be a little keen so I took my time and rode a patient race on him. He was pretty much running off with me turning in and quickened well to win hard held. He’s a very nice horse and is still currently for sale. Although he won it wasn’t really his ground and he will improve again when he runs on a sound surface. Ryan Mania and James Reveley came to my house after racing as we were all playing football in Bedale in the evening. Kelly fed and watered us all before we headed off for a kick about. It’s been far too long since our last game and we all felt the effects; aches and pains galore!
Wednesday 27th February
With no racing today I didn’t have a great deal going on apart from the usual four lots in the morning. That was until Harveys delivered our kitchen table and chairs that we ordered ten weeks ago!! I had to get the DIY head on again and I ended up spending the whole afternoon putting it all together. I’m not one for following the instructions (like most men) and I pretty much just put the thing together to how I think it should look so I really do hope it doesn’t decide to collapse when we have guests round and are sat at it.
The way the entries are looking I am expecting to have a light weight to do at Doncaster on Friday, with that in mind I went for a run in the evening before bed to drop a pound or two just to get me on the way. I have about six or seven pounds to lose for then, but forty eight hours is more than enough time to shed those unwanted pounds, let the sweating begin!!
Thursday 28th February
There was no racing again today but I still had a fairly busy/active day ahead of me. On Thursdays I go into Andrew Crooks. I had six lots to ride out, and with three of the six schooling it was a good morning’s work. One of the three schooling was Jimmy Brown who was having his final schooling session before his hurdles debut tomorrow at Doncaster, he was brilliant yet again so I hope he can be just as good on the track when it matter most. With me having a light tomorrow I drove the car down to Catterick Racecourse and ran a couple of laps of the course. As I was running into the home straight I noticed a fair bit of damage to the open ditch from Tuesday’s meeting. It was Ryan Mania’s horse that caused the damage; I couldn’t help myself so I took a picture of it to tease him about it!
I jumped on the scales when I got home and I still had a few pounds to shift. I waited until 7pm before I ran a bath to have a sweat in; two hours later I was four pounds lighter. The final pound or two will have to come off tomorrow. Sweating takes out a lot of energy so when I got out the bath I pretty much fell straight into bed for an early night.
Friday 1st March
Rather than go in for first lot this morning, I went in for second lot to give me time to have a quick sweat in the bath beforehand. I still had a few pounds to shift so I wanted to drop at least one pound before going in to ride out. After my three lots I headed straight to Doncaster where I had a couple of rides. I dropped the final couple pounds in the sauna when I arrived, finally I was down to 9st 10lb. My first ride was Jimmy Brown who was running in the two mile conditional jockeys novice hurdle. I’ve been looking forward to getting the leg up on him for a while now but this was a decent enough race and he went off at odds of 66/1. The ground was plenty lively enough for him and he seemed to get his tongue over the bit which caused him to make a slight noise. This restricts the oxygen flow into the lungs which obviously affects performance. He will get a tongue tie on next time to prevent this from happening again. My second ride was Nurse Dominatrix who was running in the two mile claiming hurdle. She was keen on her previous two stats over hurdles so I was told today to let her stride on if she was pulling. She was too keen early and very nearly ran out at the fourth hurdle, as a result of being keen early doors she didn’t get home. She is now handicapped, if she gets dropped in on soft ground in her own grade she should be good enough to win a race over hurdles somewhere along the line.
Saturday 2nd March
I was back at Doncaster again today, but not until the bumper which was the final race of the day. It meant that I could get a full mornings riding out before going racing which was handy, extra pocket money that way!! Graham Watters stayed at mine last night so after riding out I went home to pick him up, although we went racing in my car I got him to drive which was also very handy as I planned to catch up on some zzzz’s. That didn’t quite go to plan as Graham can talk the back legs off a donkey so sleeping was not an option for me. His day was ruined when the news came through that his only ride was a non-runner, and to make things worse for him he had drive all the way back up to Perthshire having not even earnt a penny. Not only that, he had to go the drive solo which meant ‘the talker’ had no one to talk to. Unfortunately I had no joy at the races but I did gallop one after racing for Mari Wilson which galloped well so all’s not so bad.
Sunday 3rd March
I went into Andrew Crooks this morning before going racing to school Bocamix over a few fences. He is entered in a novice chase on Tuesday at Catterick and Andy just wanted him to pop a few fences to refresh his memory. All went well and it’s now looking like he’ll take his chance on Tuesday. My only ride today was Along Came Rosie who ran well thirteen days ago to finish third around Southwell, so I was hoping she could build on that and go a bit closer this time round. The ground was pretty desperate and I knew I was not going to be winning with a circuit to go. When my chance was gone leaving the back straight I pulled her up, there will be other days for her. I got home from the races just in time for the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. Being an Arsenal fan I couldn’t bear to watch the second half after going 2-0 down after forty minutes.
It’s not been that bad a week for me, I’ve been racing most days which is what we want and I managed to nick myself a nice winner. Riding Fair Loch was certainly the highlight of my week. He looks a smart prospect and if everything goes to plan then his next port of call may be at Aintree’s Grand National meeting which is something well worth looking forward to.
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)