It was an exciting weekend of racing just gone, and I’d like to say congratulations to Sophie Ralston who won the second Silk Series race on Friday evening at Chepstow, her first ever winner at the course. Annoyingly my collarbone injury kept me from riding in the race, but I hoping to be back later this week so fingers crossed I can get involved soon!
Ladies Days are really popular with racegoers and it’s always fun to ride (and hopefully win) in front of big crowds. People are having fun and a good day out at the races, which is great, but as for the jockeys it’s all part of a long day’s work. I thought I’d take this blog to let you know what a typical day is like for me as a professional jockey.
I’m very lucky that I live in one of the houses at my boss, Richard Hannon’s, yard which is near Malborough in Wiltshire. This means I’ve got a very quick and easy commute every day, but I’m still at work by 5:45 in the morning.
When I arrive, my first job is to muck out the usual horses, before I head to the tack room where we find out which horses we are going to be riding that morning. The boss has a lot of horses in the yard, so I ride out between 3 to 5 lots per day, the first of which I pull out at 6:30.
I don’t tend to ride the same horse each day and we have so many horses in training at home, I sometimes ride a horse at the races that I’ve not even sat on before!
After second lot, we have breakfast which tends to last around twenty minutes, then after last lot we tend to the yards, which involves sweeping and, eventually, feeding the horses. The morning’s work usually finishes about 12:30pm.
If I’m not racing, I return for evening stables at 4:00pm. This involves brushing, haying, watering, skipping or mucking out and feeding the horses. We do up to five horses each in the evenings and after, the other two apprentices and I school any of the two year old’s through the stalls if they are running in the near future.
Staying as fit as possible is very important, so I often go for a run after evening stables or to Oaksey House in Lambourn and use the gym there.
On days where I am going racing, I have to make sure to leave at the right time to get there about an hour before my first ride. Usually I drive myself, but sometimes I manage to get a lift!
When I arrive at the races, the first thing I do is check the going to see how soft or firm the track is. I also like to have a walk around the track to have a look for myself and think about my rides for the afternoon.
I like to sit down with a copy of the Racing Post and look at the races I’ve got a ride in and go through to look at a number of different things. I look at the horses form, (how it’s performed in its previous races) as well as its pace and current rating, which is the official mark that it’s been given by the BHA Handicapping Department. All of this will give me an idea of how the horse should (but not always!) peform.
Another important job is to speak to the trainer for whom you are riding. Each one is different, and some like to give you very specific instructions as to how to ride and others suggest that you ride the horse as you find it. Fingers crossed, either way, it ends up with coming back to the Winner’s Enclosure!
After I’ve finished riding, I grab a bite to eat in the canteen and head home. As you can probably guess, there is a lot of driving involved in the job so I like to get away sharpish to beat the traffic!
The life of a jockey is a busy one, that’s for sure and when you go to bed you know that you’re getting back up to do it all over again in the morning. A busy job, but one I love and I wouldn’t swap for anything!