An Interview with Rossa Ryan

ROSSA RYAN 12TH

Hiya guys!

Today I have an interview with the up and coming flat jockey Rossa Ryan. Please note that this interview was conducted before the continuation of racing. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Rossa: To date, the Celebration Mile in Goodwood would be my favourite race I have won.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Rossa: If I had my choice in whatever horse in history I could have ridden, I would have to say Sea The Stars.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Rossa: I honestly am against banning it. I have done a few tours with people who have came racing to meet a jockey and I have showed them the whip and they could see after I showed them that it doesn’t hurt and it really changed their opinion of the whip after that. I could hit myself as hard as possible and it wouldn’t hurt. It’s only there to encourage horses to go forward for jockey’s.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day?? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Rossa: Well, it all depends on the weight you have that day. If, for instance, I had a light weight, I would eat little to nothing and if I had a heavy weight that day or the next I would eat dinner, if I was hungry. All depends day to day I suppose.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Rossa: I think they’re very wrong. I would love for the general public to actually witness the love that the stable staff, owners, trainers and jockeys have for these horses. We love our sport and we love horses. And the care the horses get is completely pampered to be honest. They’re so well looked after and you see it day to day how happy horses in racing are.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Rossa: Well I’m from Ireland so when we get our time off I usually go home to visit my family and have a little holiday at home.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Rossa: Well I have always followed James Doyle on his style and also Sean Levey, he’s helped me massively in little guidelines to becoming a better jockey and is always there to give me advice if I need it.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Rossa: My overall goal, to hopefully ride a Group 1 winner and maybe, just maybe, be Champion Jockey.

Me: What is your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Rossa: My horse to watch for the upcoming year would be Duke of Hazzard. He gave me my biggest win last year and he is on the upward curve to hopefully being a Group 1 horse this year.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Rossa: I think if you want to achieve a goal in life or make a dream come true… well I think for the best sports people of the world, they only got there through hard work. Going that extra mile where possible and putting that bit more practice in.

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Firstly, as always, I want to thank Rossa for his time. I personally think he has a promising future ahead, he is a brilliant rider and a credit to our sport. The fact he is so young sets him in good stead to have a long and hopefully successful career. I am excited to watch his journey over the upcoming years to see where he ends up.

Thank you for reading.

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Sidenote: My raffle to raise money for the Stroke Association is now LIVE. So you can pop over to my Twitter and view this tweet for all information: https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx/status/1277629857460113410?s=20 There are some fantastic prizes and it is for a fantastic cause in honour of the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s stroke. The Stroke Association help not only those directly affected by a stroke, but also their families. They helped my mom massively and I wanted to raise money for them so they can continue to help other people in need. I hope you can all join me in raising money for this incredible cause!

 

How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Horse Racing Industry? PART FOUR!

PART 4 CORONA

Hiya guys.

A little bit later than planned, but welcome to the fourth and final part of my Coronavirus series. Let’s just jump straight into it!

I spoke with Paddy Aspell who filled me in on how he stayed busy during lockdown.

“Well I think it’s fair to say 2020 has been a real rollercoaster for the world collectively, the racing world included. We find ourselves already in July but the racing season is now being quite compacted to try and make some late gains. I personally have managed to keep pretty busy, riding out every day at Mark Johnston’s in Middleham and general fitness to try and make a return from injury if at all possible.”

Paddy went on to tell me how he feels about the resumption of racing with the new rules in place.

“Since the resumption of racing behind closed doors, I think the BHA, racecourses, trainers, staff and more have done an incredible job to overcome the logistical issues they’ve faced to keep the industry going. It appears to me that the riders have adjusted to things like face masks and social distancing in weighing rooms extremely well. It certainly can’t be straightforward.”

He concluded with moving forward within the sport.

“We are living in strange times – for now, something referred to as ‘the new normal’ so we basically have to take every day as it comes, make the best of every situation and hope that going forward racing can, one day, get back to something like we remember our great sport. Fingers crossed for the future.”

Paddy has always been very supportive of my work and always helped me where he can, which I am very grateful for. Hopefully we do get to see Paddy back out on the course after his injury.

I also spoke with William Kedjanyi who works for Star Sports. He filled me in on how the pandemic has affected his work.

“It’s impacted everyone hugely, but I’ve been luckier than most. My parents are key workers and I’ve always felt I had an understanding for the effort NHS staff put in, but that’s increased tenfold – I’ve been lucky that I can work from home.

It’s been a real blow on lots of fronts, but the cancellation of racing (when it was absent) was personally incredibly difficult as an integral part of my daily routine was gone (with nothing else to fill it). I was thankful for the US tracks still going (and I’ve used my time to sharpen up in that area) but low grade racing from there wasn’t the same, although to be fair, my mind may have been on other matters.

My title is political – and it’s a huge part of what I do – but I love racing and am writing previews for every big weekend (and have been for most of my time with Star) whilst I’ve attended lots of the big meetings with them and the pitch over the past 18 months.

You miss the people you work with a huge amount too. Thankfully there are more ways than ever to keep in touch, but not rushing around the course and bolting from pitch to pitch – usually to see Martin ‘Lofty’ Chapman and Shelb, or Flynn (our head of on course) – and also the routines of raceday as well. The excitement of the train, meeting people in the nearest town/city beforehand, and the excitement of getting together with friends to watch too and discuss what’s happened.

In terms of a specific event, we missed Aintree incredibly badly (every bookmaker does) not only for the online business but especially on course, but as a whole the earliest weeks of lockdown – an unprecedented situation where we had all of our most popular sport cancelled for weeks on end – were very hard on everyone. The team at work (Star Sports) have been wonderful with great support and my editor (David Stewart) has worked around the clock to make sure things keep going, but lockdown put us in a very rough spot – we had a 60% drop in bets from out pre-Cheltenham 2020 average.

Thankfully France Galop – and a huge hand has to go to Olivier Delloye who’s fought brilliantly for racing there – managed to get back by mid-May with quality racing, which turned the corner – we saw a 26% increase in bets taken overall and it proved to be an excellent springboard.

That was surpassed by the return of British racing, which came not one moment too soon and got an incredible reception: we took 350% more bets compared with May, and it appears that plenty of people had been waiting too, as we’ve eventually had more than double the bets we would during a normal month. We took plenty of action from Ireland too which has meant things are really positive actually – we’ve got more people betting with us than this time last year.”

Will went on to tell me how he occupied his time whilst the racing was cancelled.

“I’ve spent much more time with my family, which has been lovely, and we’ve all gotten along, touch wood. Work on political and media stuff for Star, we’ve got a great inventive team, also we’ve managed to really improve output, firstly focusing on the Labour Leadership content (and Deputy), the next Shadow Chancellor, and BBC DG were all markets we got up before focusing on America. Thinking outside of the box has allowed us to broaden our offering now and things can only get better – Tony Blair voice – in the months ahead on that score.

But I did manage to find plenty of time to fill the absence of racing, starting with doing something I should’ve been doing lots more of – Read! I’d been so busy with all the sport and politics that I hadn’t really been able to make time for good books and I’ve loved catching up. My favourite read was Not Buying It by Charlotte Hawkins but I also finally had the chance to read across multiple subjects – I finished ‘Equal’ by Carrie Gracie.

It’s given me a chance to get into my history again too, and I’ve loved ‘The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots’ by Kate Williams. This is a marvellous journey into one of the ugliest feuds in British history and worth every second you’ll spend on it if you want some escapism (and who doesn’t these days?)

I also got the chance to get some proper TV binging in, and one of the big benefits of this whole thing has been the chance to watch The Sopranos for the first time. One of the best TV shows ever made.

I’ve also enjoyed re-watching 30 Rock – the best comedy NBC’s made, yes I said it – Gangs of London and Money Heist – and in movie terms, I’ve been binging on the thrillers. I was particularly gutted that Daniel Craig’s last Bond film was pushed back so I’ve enjoyed his four movies, along with plenty of Jason Bourne too.”

So how does Will think the new rules being implemented will or has affected racing thus far?

“There’s obviously a significant financial hit to racing, namely in the shape of lost gate revenue. The biggest courses will suffer most but they’ll also be in the best shape – smaller tracks who are paying £50,000 to set up a safe meeting at a time when many courses are already feeling the heat. A bigger worry would be racing inside local lockdowns – we’ve had clearance for two meetings at Leicester but the optics of racing inside an area where the infection rate is soaring is something we must consider strongly.

However, one of the benefits of racing’s nature is that it can take place with social distancing, and we should be thankful that the sport takes place in such suitable grounds. The infection protocols at the courses are the most stringent I can think of outside of hospitals. 

72 hour declarations have been a huge help for most, if the weather’s played ball.”

Will then concluded our discussion with how racing behind closed doors has affected the sport as well as how helpful the furlough scheme turned out to be for the sport.

“It’s been a body blow for the vast majority involved, there’s no way around it. The furlough scheme has been vital – I can’t bear to think of how many jobs would have gone in the industry without it – and thankfully things have came back in the nick of time for most. My worry in the coming months would be for lower level trainers, many of whom were on the breadline beforehand, and courses without big financial backings. Things still feel a long way away from returning fans to the racecourse in significant numbers, so much will depend on how the reopening of closed retail spaces goes.”

Will has always supported me with my blogging and I appreciate it greatly. If you don’t already follow Will I highly suggest you do. He has tremendous knowledge of many subjects and I thoroughly enjoy reading his blog posts for Star Sports and it has been an honour having him work with me on this post and series. Will and the team at Star Sports have also very kindly donated two £25 bets for my raffle for the Stroke Association. All information will be at the end of this post with how you can enter!

I also spoke with James Watson who runs the Turf Talk Podcast. Of course running a racing podcast with no racing would be difficult. He filled me in on his time in lockdown.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, like many racing fans, I wondered how I was going to cope. Keeping myself occupied whilst this large void was missing was probably the hardest thing during lockdown. Not seeing live sport was difficult for me as I must watch 10 hours of it a day. However, my time watching racing during the day soon changed to the night or the morning. I watched a lot more international meetings such as Meydan, Breeders Cup and Melbourne Cup but an average card at Sha Tin on Sunday morning never tickled my fancy, however this began to fill the void. As well as that, I spent a lot of time reading autobiographies too. Tyson Fury’s was the most fascinating in this case, showing us throughout his life and what he has had to cope with. Mental health in individual sports is a big talking point and people need to be aware that they are not the only ones. He has been a trailblazer in promoting mental health and I fully commend him for that. I also read Patrick Veitch’s autobiography which was a rollercoaster of a tipster who’s life was turned upside down. I would strongly advise it to any racing fans as it’s a fascinating read.”

So, how did no racing affect his racing podcast?

“Being one half of Turf Talk Pod, we have struggled to come up with ideas. This has affected the listener-ship in recent weeks as well. We have decided to go more personally so our listeners could get to know us more by talking about iconic moments in our racing lives and our top 5 favourites of all time. This seems to have had a good response, however, as people normally listen to our pod when travelling to work or going to places, it probably did not do as well as we would have liked. Also in the fact that there is not a lot of pods out there. Lewis and I started in the first year of university three years ago when there was only the Final Furlong Pod. Now there is such a wide choice which is great to see but other people may want to listen to them rather than us. Our fanbase is very loyal and I’d like to thank them for all their support.”

James went on to tell me how he feels the new rules have affected racing.

“The new rules that are in place post-Coronavirus are what we need at this time I think. As a sport we did a good job of showcasing how to carry on the sport after these events. Facemasks, keeping your distance and seeing no crowds has almost become the normal in recent months. I think we need to slowly re-introduce the rules back in the coming months when it is safe to do so.”

And finally, James finished our chat with his opinions surrounding racing behind closed doors and how this has affected racing.

“Racing behind closed doors is weird for most racing fans. However, I think if anything, this period of time in lockdown has aided the sports image, having taken a knock from the Cheltenham Festival. ITV have done a tremendous job publicising the sport and this shows by the viewing figures. Having racing on national television channels is important for the sport. We saw 1.5 million people viewing the racing on a Saturday and if we can keep 10% of them then that would be great. As much as I would love to go to a racecourse in the upcoming weeks, I am happy to wait until we get the all clear before heading to one. Safety of the people is what matters here first before crowds returning to racing.”

If you wish to listen to James and Lewis’ Turf Talks Podcast you can do so right here on any of these links: https://m.soundcloud.com/user-418292204https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/turf-talk-pod/id1439648005#episodeGuid=tag%3Asoundcloud%2C2010%3Atracks%2F854170852 or https://open.spotify.com/show/35pjNCOGtg0Vk7R6Mm6yh4.

I want to thank Paddy, Will and James and everybody else who has took the time out to be involved in this project/mini series. I found it very interesting to actually get the opinions of different sectors within the industry and how it has affected them all so differently. This project was something totally different to how I normally present my work. Let me know via Twitter if you enjoyed it and if I should do more mini projects like this.

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Sidenote: My raffle to raise money for the Stroke Association is now LIVE. So you can pop over to my Twitter and view this tweet for all information: https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx/status/1277629857460113410?s=20 There are some fantastic prizes and it is for a fantastic cause in honour of the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s stroke. The Stroke Association help not only those directly affected by a stroke, but also their families. They helped my mom massively and I wanted to raise money for them so they can continue to help other people in need. I hope you can all join me in raising money for this incredible cause!

How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Horse Racing Industry? PART THREE!

PART THREE CORRECT

Hey guys!

Welcome to Part Three of this project. If you haven’t already seen the first two please view them before this one.

Part One: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/06/30/how-has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-affected-the-horse-racing-industry-part-one

Part Two: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/07/02/how-has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-affected-the-horse-racing-industry-part-two

Let’s get straight into it!

The cancellation of racing has, of course, massively impacted trainers, so I spoke with Johnson White, Philip Hobbs’ assistant trainer who gave me a little insight into how the whole situation has affected them.

“This whole period has been very difficult for everyone! As soon as we knew that there was not going to be any racing we roughed most of the horses off and furloughed the majority of staff.”

He went on to tell me that very very soon, their team will all be reunited!

“The staff and owners have been fantastic throughout this whole time period and we are all looking forward to most of the staff and horses coming back into work on the 6th of July to prepare them for the Autumn. We have a number of horses to run through July and August and we can’t wait to get going again and hopefully return to some kind of normality!”

I visited Philip’s yard earlier this year and every person I met were in love with their job so I can imagine it being very hard on them as a whole. Johnson and Philip have donated a stable visit with a morning on the gallops followed by tickets to a local meeting for 4 people for my raffle for the Stroke Association. All information will be at the end of this post with how you can enter!

I also spoke with Debbie from Go Racing Green who also had the normality of life put on hold once coronavirus caused horse racing to stop. For those who don’t know who Debbie is I highly suggest you pop over to her Twitter and have a look through her website. She has created a safe space and SO much more at so many courses for people who may need a time out when at the races. As someone who has suffered with my mental health I think it is brilliant what she has done and I highly suggest people go and check her website out for more information! You can find it here: https://goracinggreen.co.uk/ as well as Debbie’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/novicefilly

So, how did the lockdown and cancellation of horse racing affect Debbie in general? She told me the following:

“I have to admit that I didn’t realise what an essential part of my life racing is now. As someone who is still fairly new to the sport and someone who has struggled with social situations for many years, when lockdown came about, at first I thought I would cope well – after all, staying at home and not seeing people had been normality for me for so long. It felt like I would just be slotting easily back into what I knew to be a normal and comfortable way of life. However, it became apparent very quickly that I depended on racing and horses for so many things – even socially. Racing is usually on in the background at home every day, and whilst I don’t bet, just simple things like looking through the race cards every day and picking out a few horses who I already follow, or horses I liked for whatever reason, had become a part of my day. I had some fantastic #GoRacingGreen visits in the pipeline too throughout April, May and June – Tweenhills, Juddmonte, Sue Smith’s, the Go North tour, a big Newmarket day out which included Dalham Hall and a #GoRacingGreen Race Day at Nottingham, all which obviously had to be cancelled, which was so disappointing. I found lockdown increasingly difficult as the weeks went on, and very much struggled at times. The not knowing when and if things would ever return to what we know, even though I still struggle with lots of things, was very scary for me. Most, I have missed seeing all the friends I have made through racing and of course, not having contact with horses, which is a key factor in my metal well-being. My mental health suffered quite a severe wobble at the end of February, so I didn’t go into lockdown in the best frame of mine. I have had some pretty dark days if I am honest, too much time on your hands isn’t always a good thing for the mind, but the relaxation of some of the rules certainly came at the right time for me, and I have now seen some friends and starting tentatively reorganising some #GoRacingGreen events, and that hope going forward is what I needed.”

Debbie went on to tell me what she did to occupy her time whilst she couldn’t visit racecourses or stables.

“It was very important to me to keep in touch with the #GoRacingGreen community virtually. I knew that I was struggling, so I knew many others would be too. The lockdown left people cut off, not just from racing, but many other branches and networks of support. At first the #GoRacingGreen Grand National was just, what I thought, a silly whim of an idea, but I was so touched by the amount of people that got involved, from within the racing community and the industry, including jockeys, trainers and of course Richard Hoiles for commentating. It actually kept me sane for those first few weeks, taking the horses out for photoshoots, making the fences and organising everything, so it was brilliant that so many more people wanted to be involved, which led to the #GoRacingGreen Guineas, when Mark Johnson did the commentary. I was quite overwhelmed by the number of people who messaged me and said it was keeping them going too, and how much they were enjoying it. Also, every evening throughout the key period of lockdown before rules began to relax, I did a Twitter chat, sometimes about racing related things, sometimes not and so many took part in this. I have done twice weekly Zoom chats which are still happening, and behind the scenes every day I have been talking to people that need support. Some people have messaged me as a one off, some I have been and am still, talking to every day to try and support them as much as I can. Helping people actually helps me. I am not a counsellor but do have a fair bit of life experience which I am happy to share, and people say they talk to me because I am  honest about what I have experienced and they feel they can relate to me. Wherever I could have tried to keep people’s spirits positive and I am very grateful that Unibet Racing have continue their support throughout lockdown to enable me to continue supporting people every day.”

Of course, we are all aware that racing has now returned, but it isn’t what we would normally see. There are a bunch of new rules introduced, which Oisin went through earlier in this post. So does Debbie think the new rules will affect racing at all?

“I try and keep away from racing ‘politics’ and any politics for that matter, as to be honest, I am still so new to this and have so much to learn. The world has faced a completely unique situation that we have never seen before in our lifetime, and sincerely hope we will never see again. Obviously everyone’s health and safety needs to be at the forefront of anything that is being implemented now and going forward. Whilst it is fantastic that there is light at the end of the tunnel, I would love us to be back racing in time for the National Hunt season ‘proper’ in October. So the industry needs to play its part in the huge puzzle keeping everyone safe to avoid a second wave that could potentially affect that. The industry was faced with a situation no one could have prepared for and as someone on the outside, I believe they have done their best to get racing back behind closed doors, and hopefully this is just the start of better days coming.”

Following on from that, I asked Debbie, does she think having racing behind closed doors has affected the sport, here is what she said on that matter:

“Racing fans are obviously all disappointed that we are being kept away, but there is a much bigger picture as to why this is necessary. I personally feel it is a bit bizarre that people can go to Ikea for example but small crowds – particularly for the benefit owners – are unable to go racing. That’s just my opinion and is in no way criticising the racing industry and how they are handling the resumption of racing. Obviously there has been a significant financial impact to the industry too, so it was important that racing resumed as quickly as possible. Spending a lot of time on social media and being a member of various racing related Facebook groups, it certainly hasn’t dampened anyone’s enthusiasm for the sport as far as I have seen, in fact I think it has done quite the opposite. I look forward to the day when we can all be reunited at the races and enjoy it again.”

I think what Debbie has done is incredible, as I said before, if you haven’t, do check out her social media and website. 

As a blogger I know I struggled to make decent content with no racing, so I spoke with Neil Watson who also writes his own blog as well as others. 

“When racing was cancelled due to Coronavirus I was disappointed at first but like many, this was a purely selfish emotion as like all racing fans it felt like having the one thing you enjoy being taken away from you. But taking a few steps back, you realise it was the correct thing to do in the circumstances at the time. To begin with, a few days after Irish racing was cancelled too, I was actually quite pleased because it did mean I could have a full break from racing as it can be an all consuming sport so I looked upon it as a chance to recharge the batteries and I guess part of me was expecting it to be short but with the death rate going up, I realised that we were in it for the long haul.”

He went on to tell me how he’s been spending his time:

“Like a fair few, I spent my Saturdays and Sundays going for morning walks with my brother – Normally on Saturdays we do our own thing most of the year – So this gave us a chance to spend more time together and it helped as we worked out it was better to do this and be there for each other as we were both in the same boat, he couldn’t see his best mate and I couldn’t go to see any live sport.”

He told me how he feels about the new rules in place and potentially what he can see happening next.

“Of course it’s good to have racing back. It will take time before we are allowed back. Next step will probably be owners then annual members then the general public on a limited number before hopefully a full resumption of racing with crowds. The protocols seem to be working, certainly better than in football from what I can see so far. Royal Ascot at home worked very well and the fact it was 100% pure racing made it even better than the other elements normally shown.”

And finally, he spoke to me about how he thinks racing behind closed doors has affected the sport:

“Going behind closed doors, whilst not our preferred option as we all want to be allowed to go racing, it is still better than nothing and as the old saying goes… “The longest journey starts with a single step.” It can sound odd watching the racing especially as some of the commentators know how to work the crowd and get the energy levels up, but this has to be accepted if we are to resume to normal life.”

Being a blogger is never easy when having to compete with others and come up with original content, but the whole period was particularly hard as there was nothing happening so nothing really to write about, so I for one can relate to Neil in the fact that other things have had to take over as a priority in life, to, I suppose, fill the void of racing.

Another area that, of course, would be impacted by the pandemic is the horse racing trading. I spoke with Matt Gibson who runs Hunting for Profit.

“Being a full time horse racing trader, I often come across situations I can’t influence and this pandemic has been no different. Just like when Equine Flu hit the racing industry last year. I had to remain calm and wait for things to resume when it was safe to do so, therefore this pandemic has been no different really. If you can’t control the situation there is no point wasting energy over the issue. I think this is the right mindset to have not only in trading, but in life as well. Social Media turned into a forum of pandemic experts over night. I get it, people were scared, worried of the unknown, both for their health and others, but also their wealth. I lost my main income streams overnight. Bluntly, no racing meant no income for me.”

Matt went on to tell me how he tried to occupy his time during the lockdown.

“The BHA stopped UK racing and then the Irish racing stopped about a week or so after, once that happened, I decided to enjoy the weather. I enjoyed the first few weeks doing a bit of gardening and drinking cider in the sun. I treated it like a holiday at home. It was a welcome break to be honest because I work very hard when racing is on. I spend a very large part of my day studying races and race cards, writing watch lists for a Betfair horse trading group I run called Hunting for Profits. Also, I trade in-play horse racing and mentor our groups members so I am busy most days. So the break was welcome after a good jumps season that was coming to an end, although we had sadly lost the Aintree and Punchestown meetings.”

Matt explained how he tried to keep his members involved during this time.

After two or three weeks, I started to get very bored so I spent my time putting together some content for the trading group for when racing returned. Write up, of course, from an in-play traders perspective and some other content I am yet to finish, which is in essence, guidance around race research. Like many people, I applied for the NHS Volunteers Scheme, but nothing came of that, so I was still very bored waiting for some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. I was aware there was still racing in other parts of the world but the liquidity in the in-play trading markets on Betfair is extremely poor outside of UK and Irish racing, so they were not a viable option for me.”

Matt went on to explain how the slow return of racing has affected his business.

“Lots of questions will have been asked from all areas of racing. When will it resume? Will things be the same? Will the trading markets be the same? My approach when racing resumed was one of caution. Often it is a quiet period for betting and trading when the racing season transitions from jumps to flat and visa-versa anyway, then factor in the disruption of a pandemic and many potential niggling problems can arise. As it stands, the month has been okay from a trading perspective. What I have noticed is I am still enjoying watching racing as a spectacle the same as I did before lockdown. The lack of a crowd at the races does not really affect watching it on TV. I have watched some football recently and it is odd watching it without spectators, but with racing I don’t really notice it as much on TV.”

Matt told me how he feels about the return of racing in general and the handling of the return from the BHA.

“The BHA seemed to get some unfair criticism before racing resumed. I think they deserve some praise for the way they have dealt with things. They got racing back on the first possible date that the government allowed. Clearly they were proactive in the background. I think racing is lucky compared to other sports with the possibility that social distancing will still be necessary. The cancellation of racing has obviously impacted the flat season as it will the summer jumps season. When losing so many races in the calendar, some horses won’t get to run as many times as they would have done in ideal conditions. My initial concerns were if the virus went on for too long and these were compounded if we then get a second wave of this virus at some point and subsequently racing is cancelled again. Smaller yards in particular could struggle, some owners won’t want to be paying out for training fees when horses are not running.”

Matt rounded up our discussion with his opinions on how the Coronavirus has affected racing in general and his hopes for a safe return to normality.

“Hopefully with the measures the BHA and HRI have put in place, racing can continue safely. Of course, long term racing needs spectators. They put money back into racing, particularly with the levy derived from betting, which will give owners better prize money to aim for. I don’t think there will be many that won’t have been affected by it, from the on-course book makers, to race courses, owners, trainers, jockeys – particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. I just hope that racing will continue in a safe environment and slowly gets back to what it was before lockdown, which was a great spectacle for all to enjoy, work in and watch.”

Matt was very open with me in regards to how he’s been affected and I think, even if you don’t gamble in any way, shape or form, within the sport, it’s important to realise how it’s impacted those who’ve took the gamble to be a full time gambler/trader etc. With no racing, it doesn’t just affect those directly involved in the sport like the trainers, jockeys and courses, it affects a much wider community and I am so grateful Matt came forward to speak to me so I could get a new perspective. Matt’s website is: https://huntingforprofit.co.uk/ if you want to see what he does or you’re interesting in joining his growing team.

And that is the end of part three! I want to thank Johnson, Debbie, Neil and Matt for their time. I hope you enjoyed part three of this project. 

Part 4 will be coming Monday evening at 6pm. Part 4 includes Paddy Aspell & more! You can now also subscribe to my blog so you receive an email whenever I post, if you’d like to do that scroll down on the side bar and you will see a Follow My Blog section, if you enter your email, every time I post you will receive an email so you don’t miss a thing!

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Sidenote: My raffle to raise money for the Stroke Association is now LIVE. So you can pop over to my Twitter and view this tweet for all information: https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx/status/1277629857460113410?s=20 There are some fantastic prizes and it is for a fantastic cause in honour of the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s stroke. The Stroke Association help not only those directly affected by a stroke, but also their families. They helped my mom massively and I wanted to raise money for them so they can continue to help other people in need. I hope you can all join me in raising money for this incredible cause!

How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Horse Racing Industry? PART TWO!

PART TWO CORRECT

Hiya guys!

Welcome to Part Two of my new project. If you haven’t already pop over to this link to view Part One before reading Part Two!

https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/06/30/how-has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-affected-the-horse-racing-industry-part-one

I am going to jump straight into this part for you guys. I hope you enjoy!

As mentioned in part one, jockeys have been massively affected by the pandemic, I spoke with Grace Mcentee who told me how the cancellation of racing has affected her.

“When it was announced that racing was going to be put to a stop due to coronavirus and we were going into lockdown it really couldn’t have come at a worse time for me as I was battling it out for the Champion All Weather Apprentice title (I finished second) and I was getting plenty of outside rides/opportunities and was getting a nice amount of winners, so I was finally at the point that I had been working towards and who knows if racing had carried on, what I could have achieved. I was gutted about it but just pleased that my friends and family were all safe and healthy.”

She went on to tell me how lockdown has affected her…

“During lockdown it was hard to keep my weight down and fitness levels up with no target to when racing was going to resume but that was the struggle for most jockeys, so I just did what I could and made the most of the time off to try and improve anything that I wanted to.”

So how has Grace coped with the return of racing after so long away from the track?

“I’ve been back riding now just over 2 weeks and I’m pleased to say that I got a winner first week back of racing resuming for 5lb apprentices, so I was delighted but I just need to build contacts back up now to get back to where I was going before racing stopped and hopefully have a nice season ahead of me.”

If you have followed me for a little while you will know I got the opportunity to visit Grace and her dad Phil just before coronavirus really gripped the UK and whilst Grace was going into the final race of the All Weather Apprentice championship and they made me feel so welcome and I loved my time with them. I think Grace is a fantastic jockey and I wish more trainers would reach out and give her a chance to ride for them, hopefully in time, now racing is back up and running, that will come! Grace’s dad Phil has kindly donated a stable visit followed by 2 tickets to a local meeting to my raffle. If you want to enter my raffle all information and links will be at the bottom of this page.

Many of you may, or should know Charlie Poste, an ex jockey who know produces and breaks in horses as well as point to point. I spoke with him about how it has affected his business.

“Our business has been affected by the early shutdown of the point to point season. Therefore any owner, rider or horse we had in training were immediately taken out of training. It also meant we have been denied a lot of racing opportunities to run our unraced horses, hopefully they would have won or ran well enough to sell at the spring sales – which were also abandoned. As this is a major profit element of our business, it’s obviously been far from ideal.”

Charlie went on to tell me how he hopes to move forward.

“Moving forward, you would imagine once point to pointing resumed, the prices for winning horses will take a hit and we have to factor in that the young horses tend to make most profit when they win in the spring of their 4 year old year. So having that opportunity taken away, I would imagine, will undoubtedly have an affect on their potential profit if they win or run well in the Autumn. The other factor from this means that we haven’t turned over anywhere near as many of the existing stock as would normally be the case. So it will impact on how many horses we are able to purchase at the upcoming store horse sales, partly due to stabling space and of course, cash flow from having more horses than normal still on the books.”

Charlie also breaks in horses, so how has this been affected? Charlie went on to explain to me!

“The other side of our business which provides the bulk of the work we do through the summer months is breaking in store horses for the professional yards, alongside our own young horses. As there have been no store horse sales it’s meant numbers of horses in the yard have been greatly reduced. We would normally expect to have around 30-40 horses to break in, fairly constantly from May until August when our pointers come back into work. This year we have had probably between 10-20 over the same period.”

Charlie went on to explain to me a little bit about what we may see in the future.

“We are due to have a young horse sale next month and it will be very interesting to see what the prices are like and if they have been affected by the current situation, and if so, by how much. We will also see how many people are keen to buy and then if they buy, how many are still keen to send them to us to break in. The pointing season is due to start earlier this Autumn and this could prove to be a real blessing as it will at least offer us the chance to run our young horses and all being well, sell them at the sales at Cheltenham in November, which is normally off limits to us as British pointing hasn’t started until mid November in previous years.”

Charlie then summed up the situation as a whole.

“Others within racing have undoubtedly been worse hit than us, but we have definitely seen changes to our business over the last few months and like many others, hope things soon return to something like normality.”

I was lucky enough to interview Charlie just before Cheltenham and just before Coronavirus really took hold of the UK. I can honestly say he is one of the most knowledgable people I have ever met within racing. He knows so much about so many aspects of racing, so I was so glad I could get his viewpoint for this project. I know for a fact if I owned a race horse I would send it straight to Charlie, he knows what he’s doing and I would highly recommend any trainer or owner sending their horses his way. Charlie has also donated a prize to my raffle for the Stroke Association… 4 tickets to a meeting at Warwick races with a course walk with Charlie before racing begins. All information on how to enter will be at the end of this post!

As I mentioned in part 1, on course bookmakers have been affected majorly by the pandemic and are amongst the few who still cannot return to work. I spoke with Ben / Benthebookie on Twitter about how Coronavirus has had a massive affect with on course bookmakers.

“As a bookmaker it has been a total disaster to be honest. Our total revenue stream has been removed, but unlike the rest of the industry we still aren’t back to work.”

He went on to tell me a little more about how this could really really be bad for bookmakers…

“I’m in a fortunate position, we are a limited company so I’m furloughed but have still taken a big cut. A lot are sole traders and they are frankly in trouble and may not be able to come back from this. Racing will miss us if we go.”

In my opinion, I totally agree with Ben on that point. It will be devastating to the industry if a lot of on course bookmakers can’t afford to return to the track once the public do. I hope that the BHA can reach out to those worse affected and ensure that they will again return to the race course.

Another sector affected by the pandemic is of course owners, syndicates etc. I spoke with Megan O’Brien who is the racing manager for Titanium Racing who told me how she has coped with this pandemic as well as how she has managed to continue to run the syndicate.

“As a racing manager it was a worrying time as lockdown happened. Not only on how do you keep your members happy and included with no racing but also the horses. We stuck with it and kept all our horses in training in support of the yards. The trainers and staff really did an excellent job of keeping the horses on the go for as long as they did with effectively no initial end game.”

So how did Megan manage to include all of their members whilst racing was cancelled and now very limited? She explained it all to me.

“I do regular updated anyway, so little has changed in that regard. We provide members with free access to The Racing Manager which is an excellent tool whereby trainers can send updates such as videos and photos directly. Seeing the horses work was a great boost. Upon racing returning, it was always going to be tricky with the racing so competitive and difficult to get in. But I’ve held regular Zoom meetings so members can watch the racing together.”

Megan then told me a more positive note and what the future holds.

“It’s unprecedented times and no one could guarantee what would happen, I was pleasantly surprised at how much interest there was during the down time and we even gained a few new members. We’re looking forward to the day we are able to get back to the stables to see the horses and also get back on the race course.”

I have firsthand spoken with Megan a few times and I know how hard she works with the Titanium Racing team, so I am so happy to hear things have gone well for them throughout this tough period. If you’re looking to join a group, I highly recommend Titanium and Megan.

And with that, it is the end of part two. I want to thank Grace, Charlie, Ben and Megan for their time. I hope you enjoyed part two of this project. 

Part three will be coming Saturday morning at 11am. Part three includes Johnson White (Philip Hobbs’ assistant), Debbie from Go Racing Green & more! You can now also subscribe to my blog so you receive an email whenever I post, if you’d like to do that scroll down on the side bar and you will see a Follow My Blog section. If you enter your email every time I post you will receive an email so you don’t miss a thing!

Thank you for reading, I will see you all on Saturday with Part three of this project.

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Sidenote: My raffle to raise money for the Stroke Association is now LIVE. So you can pop over to my Twitter and view this tweet for all information: https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx/status/1277629857460113410?s=20 There are some fantastic prizes and it is for a fantastic cause in honour of the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s stroke. The Stroke Association help not only those directly affected by a stroke, but also their families. They helped my mom massively and I wanted to raise money for them so they can continue to help other people in need. I hope you can all join me in raising money for this incredible cause!

How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Horse Racing Industry? PART ONE!

PART ONE CORRECT

Hiya guys!

Welcome to my new project/series! Today is part one, there will be more parts to follow over the next few days so keep your eyes peeled!

This project is something different to the usual interviews I post and it is something I have been working on for a few weeks now, so I hope you guys enjoy!

Each post in this project will still include little snippets of interviews I have done with people within the sport, but in general this post will be all about just how Coronavirus has affected the horse racing industry from all angles. From jockeys and trainers, to bookmakers and racecourses, to the media and presenters, to sponsors and race managers, to businesses and bloggers. I feel as though I have tried to do a good job in looking at all aspects of the sport and getting opinions from them all.

As a whole, the sport has been massively affected by the virus and the lockdown and I thought it would be interesting to really look into different areas of the sport. By speaking to people throughout the industry I have managed to find out a lot about just how severely the sport has been impacted.

Of course, horse racing and sport in general is not the be all and end all of life, and whilst we have missed seeing sport on our TV’s we know that the lockdown and cancelling sport was the right thing to do. But I wanted to look away from the virus as a whole and focusing on horse racing for this post and I think you will all find it an interesting read as I have whilst doing my research. I know personally that not having any racing has severely impacted me as a ‘blogger’ because there are no stable visits, no meetings, no face to face interviews, basically not much I could do. I was very lucky in the respect that I could reach out online to people within the industry and arrange interviews to be held digitally so I could still create content, just not as involved as I could have been if racing was still going ahead. So I thought I would reach out to a whole range of people and see just how lockdown and the cancellation of racing has affected them!

I want to quickly thank all of the people who took part in this project who you will see throughout. With all of that out of the way, let’s jump right in. I hope you all enjoy!

Some of the main people affected by the cancellation of all racing is of course the jockey’s, who essentially lost their day jobs for an extended period of time. So how difficult have jockey’s found their time off? I spoke with Oisin Murphy who told me the following:

“I suppose the Coronavirus pandemic halted my riding from around the 17th of March and I had never not ridden for more than about 4 weeks before – I had broken a collar bone and the maximum amount of time I was off was I think 26 days, so obviously I found it very difficult to deal with that. I’m not a person that goes on holiday or anything so to be stuck with no focus was incredibly difficult.”

He then went on to tell me how he changed his mindset and how he dealt with those feelings of being a little bit lost.

“After a period of time I realised that everyone was in it together and what about the large families in towns and cities? They’re the people really suffering. So that changed my mindset a fair bit.”

So what does a jockey do when they can’t race? Oisin explained how he’s been using his time off.

“I went walking and running every day… I also did a little bit of cooking and just had a focus point each day. But thank goodness we got the green light from the 1st of June.”

So how different is horse racing now it’s back up and running? Oisin Murphy filled me in with just some of the rules the jockey’s have to adhere to.

“There are so many things we must adhere to. We have a daily email that we must fill out with a questionnaire of 12 questions. Temperature checks on arrival then you get given a wristband. Everybody is social distancing in the weighing room, then in the paddock we obviously have to wear face masks. You get to the start and in the stalls we’re allowed to pull the face masks down. Obviously in higher temperatures it’s hard to breath which is far from ideal – but that’s what we’ve been asked to do. Then we pull them up before we get back in the shoot on your horse. Weighing in has changed – nothing is the same. There are no showers and after 9 or 10 rides, most cards are 10 races, I’ve got to travel all the way home stinking – which isn’t ideal either. So that’s an idea of what we’re doing at the moment.”

Oisin is obviously a class act and his social media presence is very needed in our sport with videos and content to really involve people. Oisin has always been there to help me out with everything, if I have ever needed help or advice I have sent him a text and he’s always got back to me. To me I think it’s brilliant that he is so willing to help young people come through racing and create content. We 100% need more people like Oisin in the racing world. Oisin has also donated a signed pair of breaches for my raffle for the Stroke Association, I will have links at the bottom of this post if you’re interesting in entering to win!

Another sector massively affected by the pandemic is of course the TV side of things, with no racing to show, of course TV presenters struggled to work. I spoke with Rishi Persad, who some of you may recognise as a TV presenter who of course had nothing to present during the lockdown. He told me how he coped with the situation:

“It was all surreal to begin with, not just because of lockdown but I also broke my leg in early March and had already had to come to terms with missing lots of events that I would normally have attended – Cheltenham, Dubai World Cup, Grand National etc. However, once I accepted the loss of work for an extended period because of the injury and the Coronavirus lockdown and accepted that we were all having to adjust and adapt.”

Rishi also went on to tell me how he spent his time in lockdown:

“I started thinking about using the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do, so I began a series of Podcasts with a friend of mine who is an expert in the human condition and well-being. I loved being able to indulge in something that I felt would benefit me in the short and long-term. It also helped me to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing when I would be able to work again and general worry about the future. Well-being is an area that I would like to explore more in years to come. I, therefore, felt as though something positive had come from the time spent in lockdown so far. But it’s not over yet and I hope that as many of us realise that in order to be cautious enough to continue the fight against the virus.” 

You can listen to the Podcasts that Rishi created with Richard Moat – which are very very interesting – right here: https://audioboom.com/channels/5023526. Rishi has also donated a prize for my raffle for the Stroke Association, you will get to spend a day with Rishi at a race course behind the scenes whilst he works for either Racing TV or ITV Racing – to be discussed with the winner to arrange a date that suits all involved – I will have links at the bottom of this post if you’re interesting in entering to win!

I also spoke with Jay / TracksideJay on Twitter or as some of you may know him, the man behind the brilliant robotic commentary videos that kept us all going whilst we were in lockdown: https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1273700697457020928?s=20 & https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1273687701120847873?s=20 just to name a few! Jay is a content creator and tipster within the sport so the cancellation of racing affected him massively with his day job. I spoke to Jay about how the virus and cancellation has affected him and his business:

“Coronavirus has been hard on everybody, not only the racing industry and it’s still being affected now, even as guidelines start to lift. For me personally, the ban on racing has had a huge affect on my business as I’ve simply not had access to areas where I can actually carry out work.”

Jay went on to tell me what he had to do to survive the lockdown and gain an income.

“I’ve had to go back to working in a supermarket for the time being, to not only keep myself occupied, but also to help with cash flow, as being a fairly new business, I didn’t qualify for any government support.”

Jay also told me that he could do bits of his normal day job whilst at home.

“Luckily for me I have had the opportunity to carry out work for some of my clients from home, which has been a key part of me staying in business up until this point and I can’t thank them enough for it. A few weeks into the crisis it was quite daunting looking ahead as nobody knew when this would end. So for my clients to still rely on me and want me to do work for them was a huge morale boost to keep me going through the rough times, so I count myself lucky, it could have been way worse. The racing industry is notoriously hard to get involved in from a working perspective and I had spent every penny I had to try and do what I love, so for the Coronavirus to come along and almost take that away was quite a concerning time for me, but like I said, I’m not the only one in this boat and things could have been so much worse than what they are now.”

Of course, Coronavirus came and hit everybody all at once and pretty quickly. Jay was very honest about how he went about the whole virus towards the beginning and I for one, can relate massively with what he said:

“I think one of the mistakes I made was not taking the virus seriously enough at the start. I remember being in a pub in Malton after a few days of filming thinking ‘ah this will all blow over in a few days’ and that’s a massive learning curve for me going forward because I found myself playing catchup as I didn’t have a plan in place and found myself quickly in a role of a ‘keyworker’ wondering what had happened. Looking back on the choices I made to get through the pandemic, I feel very proud of myself that I did what I did, sometimes I tend to roll over and feel hard done by but this time I feel like I rose to the occasion and dealt with it in the right way, mainly because I still have a business there when at one point I really did think it was game over, which was a dark time for me.”

Jay went on to tell me just how the Coronavirus has affected him and his family personally. 

“My Grandad passed away during the pandemic and it went down as a COVID statistic, which wasn’t the reason for his death, but that was also tough on me as I really did think I was losing it all. But the racing industry and the people I work for (including Sainsbury’s) have supported me so much throughout this crisis and I honestly couldn’t thank them enough.”

And some final thoughts from Jay on the whole scenario:

“Things are not 100% back to normal just yet but I am confident that things will get back to how they were, not only for myself but for everyone else too. I have spoken to many people online and there’s so many out there going through a tough time, it’s important to talk about it and we will all get through it one way or the other and I’m always available for a chat if it’ll help you.”

In my personal opinion Jay is one of the best in the business and the content he creates is brilliant. I, for one, am so happy he has been able to bounce back and keep his business going, it would be a huge loss to the sport to lose his work.

I think it is so important to talk about how on course bookmakers have been affected by the virus. Whether you gamble or not, they are an integral part of the racing industry and even though racing has now resumed, it is of course behind closed doors, meaning there still isn’t a job there for on course bookmakers whilst no punters are there to bet.

I spoke with Kenny from Ostlers Racing who told me just how devastating the whole situation has been.

“The business has been decimated so we are now trying to get people to sign up to bet online via my website: https://www.ostlersracing.com/. Whilst racing has been cancelled I have had to focus on the website and also had to get myself a part time job.”

He went on to tell me how he feels about the way in which on course bookmakers have been treated.

“The race courses do not care at all for on course bookmakers and so I believe that we will be the last to return to the courses with heavy restrictions in place on the number of bookmakers who can attend. However racing behind closed doors can initially only be a good thing as we had to start somewhere.”

He also told me how he thinks some on course bookmakers may not make it through this pandemic.

“I believe that some bookmakers will fold and many others will lose money on their pitch investments that they have. The top bookmakers will prosper and the lower end bookmakers will struggle to recover.”

Again, as I previously mentioned, I think more bookmakers than what we potentially expect may not be able to return when they’re allowed to and that’s a real shame. They haven’t been looked after in any way, shape or form and that blame lies with the BHA. From what I have been told, they haven’t really been updated or informed of anything by the BHA and most of them are losing money daily with pitch fees that can’t be cancelled and obviously no work. Some of which cannot rely on the government for support for various different reasons and to me it’s a real shame that they haven’t been more supported by the BHA. It’s as if they have totally been forgotten in all of this. However if you wish to sign up and help Kenny and his business by betting online with them, you can do so here: https://www.ostlersracing.com/. To me, if the BHA can’t support them, then we need to. We need to stop betting with the big players that we know will survive this and start helping those lower down the chain who need the help the most.

So, that is part one complete. I want to thank Oisin, Rishi, Jay and Kenny for taking time out to speak with me. I hope you enjoyed the first part of this project.

Part two will be going up on Thursday at 6pm which includes Grace Mcentee, Charlie Poste & more. You can now also subscribe to my blog so you receive an email whenever I post. If you’d like to do that, scroll down on the side bar and you will see a Follow My Blog section. If you enter your email, every time I post you will receive an email so you don’t miss a thing!

Thank you for reading, I will see you all on Thursday with Part two of this project.

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Sidenote: My raffle to raise money for the Stroke Association is now LIVE. So you can pop over to my Twitter and view this tweet for all information: https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx/status/1277629857460113410?s=20 There are some fantastic prizes and it is for a fantastic cause in honour of the 10 year anniversary of my mom’s stroke. The Stroke Association help not only those directly affected by a stroke, but also their families. They helped my mom massively and I wanted to raise money for them so they can continue to help other people in need. I hope you can all join me in raising money for this incredible cause!

An Interview with Liam Keniry

Liam Keniry

Hiya guys!

Today I bring to you an interview with Liam Keniry. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Liam: Favourite race, win or lose, would probably be the Cambridgeshire 2004 on a horse called Spanish Don who came along very early in my career, I was still an apprentice and won a couple stakes on him and obviously winning that Cambridgeshire at the time as an apprentice was very good. 

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Liam: Favourite horse I’ve never ridden would be Sea The Stars; what he did in his classic season was just brilliant. He had everything. Won the Guineas, the Derby and all them other races he did, it was probably just… yeah just amazing what he did that season.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Liam: The whip… I think the BHA have the whip rules absolutely spot on and if the whip was every banned it would be a backwards step for racing, I believe. 

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Liam: As you get older it becomes easier to manage your weight. I would always have a little bit of breakfast no matter what weight I have that day. Something small to eat in the evenings and just plenty of exercise. Yeah, your weight is easier to manage when you’re quite busy doing  two meetings a day and stuff, so it’s not really an issue.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Liam: I think people who think racing is animal cruelty are probably people who have never been to a racing stables and haven’t seen how well these horses are looked after and cared for and how prepared they are when they go to racing. The majority of the time the horses are so prepared that they probably find it quite easy and I imagine most of them quite enjoy it.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Liam: Yeah, it’s good to be busy. I prefer it that way, the busier you are, the fitter you are and I think the easier it is to keep your eye on the ball. If the racing gives time off it can be quite nice to go on holiday with the wife for a couple of days just to get away for a couple days. But in general it’s better to be busy.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Liam: I always looked up to Kieren Fallon when he was riding. He was just a genius in the saddle and he was Champion Jockey a many times. Especially in the big races, Fallon was as good as there was in his time riding I think.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Liam: Any Group 1 race would be great. Yeah, any Group 1 race would be brilliant.

Me: What is your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Liam: I am very close to riding 1000 winners now, I think about 30 away from that so hopefully if we get back racing soon, if I can do that by the end of this year it would be good and just to continue to ride winners every year after that, that would be good.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Liam: A horse looking forward to this season would probably be a horse called Indeed who is trained by Dominic Ffrench Davis. He did quite well last year and hopefully he should have a good year this year. We’d like to think he definitely up to winning in a listed class and hopefully there are a couple of big races in him yet.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Liam: It would probably be Newbury. I am primarily based in Lambourn so Newbury would probably be my local track to there and I think it’s a big galloping track and quite fair, so yeah, it’s a good track Newbury, it’s a fair track and a good track and it’s always nice to ride a winner there. 

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Liam: I think… always follow your dreams. Work hard. Working hard will always help you in life no matter what job you do.

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Firstly I want to thank Liam for his time, he gave some brilliant answers. Hopefully he reaches 1000 winners this year, I will definitely be following his progress as he becomes closer to that goal!

Thank you for reading.

sign

An Interview with Tom Garner

Tom Garner

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing you an interview with Tom Garner who is Oliver Sherwood’s stable jockey. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Tom: There’s been a few that meant a lot but probably winning the two Grade 1’s I won last year in Saratoga on Winston C – A horse that I brought from England. It was the first Grade 1’s as a jockey and as a bloodstock agent.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Tom: Many Clouds. I rode him a lot at home and would have loved to have ridden him on the track, he’s the best horse I have ever sat on.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Tom: I think the public need to be educated more about the stick and how we use it. I agree with the current rules, but if a horse isn’t going to go for one smack, it’s not going to go for multiple. So young lads starting out should be better educated on how to make a horse go without having to resort to the stick.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Tom: I’m lucky that my weight is okay at the moment, but I have been up to over 11 stone when I should be about 10 stone. I find alcohol is the worst for my weight and unfortunately for me, I love beer, but when it comes to eating I don’t watch it too much, just when I need to. I’ve lost over 7 pounds before in 24 hours, which isn’t advisable. But I just do plenty of exercise most days and I ride out and that keeps it level.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Tom: Again, the same as the stick. The public need to be better educated before they have opinions. If they saw the way the horses are cared for and the love of the horses from the stable staff who look after them day in, day out then a lot of people would change their minds.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Tom: It’s hard for me to get away as I ride in England during the winter and America during the summer, but when we have had a few days before, I’ve been skiing with a few other lads or try and get to Dubai to visit friends who are riding out there, otherwise the days I have off I usually go out hunting or shooting.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Tom: Two people I have looked up to have recently retired. They are Noel Fehily and Leighton Aspell, both have helped me massively during my career.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Tom: Obviously the Grand National or the Gold Cup. But I have finished 2nd and 3rd in the Pardubice so coming that close has made me want to win it even more.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Tom: I want to be Champion Jockey in America and come back and keep a good relationship with the trainers in England and win as many horses as I can, whilst I can.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Tom: England would be a horse of Ben Pauling’s called Your Darling and America would be Winston C. He has a lot more good days ahead of him.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Tom: I love Sandown. I’ve had a lot of good days with Rayvin Black and I love riding over fences there.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Tom: Someone said to me when I was starting out ‘work will overcome talent if talent doesn’t work hard’. Just to work as hard as you can and take advice from older lads in the weighing room. The most talented rider isn’t always the best jockey if he or she doesn’t work hard.

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As always, first things first, I want to thank Tom for taking the time to speak with me, I know he is super busy whilst riding in America currently so I appreciate making the time to answer a few questions. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview so I hope you guys did too. I will see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Liam Keniry.

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An Interview with Phillip Dennis

Phillip Dennis

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing you an interview with Phillip Dennis, I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Phillip: My favourite race that I have won so far would have to be the Epsom Dash on Ornate. To win a big handicap just 40 minutes before the Derby was great and a real buzz, he also gave me my first Group One ride in the Nunthorpe this year, which would be up there for a favourite ride that didn’t win. Hopefully he can be seriously competitive in listed or group company this season.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Phillip: If I could have ridden any horse past or present, I’d have to say Frankel as an obvious one. He was just a freak of a race horse and his Guineas win and York win stand out for me. A less obvious one would be Sole Power, he looked a real character to ride.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Phillip: I think the whip issue could go on and on but it really is an important piece of equipment that the wider public don’t really understand. I’m not sure what the best way to go is, whether it’s tighten up penalties or reduce hits, but in my opinion, banning it would be crazy.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Phillip: I’m fairly lucky with my weight that it stays quite level and I can eat relatively well, depending on what weights I have in the coming days. 48 hour declarations are definitely a help to get the weight sorted for a lighter ride. In the summer I’d watch it a bit more than in the winter. When it’s quieter you can use it as a bit of a break for the body.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Phillip: If I was to talk to someone who thought racing was cruel, I’d have to explain to them how well the horses are looked after, morning and night. People think they are forced to run, but the majority are only happy when they are out with a saddle on them. Stable staff do an unbelievable job and treat them like they are their own.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Phillip: During the odd days I get off I try to play golf… very averagely. But I’d be a fair weather player. So other than that I like to spend time with friends and family. During the lockdown I tried my hand at the odd bit of DIY and gardening.

Me: Who do you look up to in the dressing room?

Phillip: In the North, it’s a great bunch of jockeys, as people and riders, so it would be hard to single one person out that I look up to, but any advice I can get off the more senior riders is a massive help and I like to get as much as possible.

Me:What is one race you’d love to win?

Phillip: The obvious races I’d love to win would be the classics, like any jockey. But on a more personal level, I’d love to win the Nunthorpe, being my local track and I love sprinters. Another one would be the Ayr Gold Cup. My dad used to take me and my mate up every year to watch it with him, so that one would be up there. When I was young it was always the Grand National, but not sure I’d be brave enough now, unless it was an old school master.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Phillip: In the coming season or two I’d like to keep building on numbers and also the quality of horses. Last year I got to 47 with a few nicer ones in there, so to keep riding in them sort of races would be great and to get above 50 would be nice.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Phillip: A horse to watch would be Que Amoro, a filly I won on for Michael Dods in the apprentice race at the Ebor Festival. She’s a seriously fast filly that stays the 5 furlongs strongly and on fast ground I think she’d be able to go up a level into a listed / group 3 company for them.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Phillip: York would have to be my favourite track, it’s my local, has the best racing in the North and arguably, the country. Always has a great crowd and the atmosphere is unbelievable.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Phillip: My advice to any young person would be hard work can always beat talent, so as long as you want something, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t or aren’t good enough. Just make sure you work as hard as you can and harder than anyone else and you’ll get to where you want to be.

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Firstly a massive thank you to Phillip for taking the time out to speak with me. From speaking to him I think he is someone who wants to learn and continuously improve in the sport and that is a great attitude to have and he will definitely be successful with that thought process. 

I hope you enjoyed and I will see you all next Saturday for An Interview with Tom Garner.

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An Interview with Danny Mcmenamin

Danny Mcmenamin

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing to you an interview with conditional jockey Danny Mcmenamin, he is a jockey that is coming through the ranks and is definitely one to watch out for in the future. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Danny: Winning the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham is surely a day I will never forget. The amount of times I have dreamt of that in my head and for it to happen was the best day in my life. Cheltenham is a special place, festival or not it is the home of racing.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past of present, what horse would you choose?

Danny: Kauto Star, he’s a horse which I fell in love with when I was growing up. His ability was freak like, the whole racing community loved him. He was a proper horse.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Danny: My opinion on the whip is that it needs to stay for jockeys and other horses safety. There has been a massive improvement over the years with new rules and newly designed whips and I am sure things will improve further.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Danny: To be honest I’m very lucky with my weight as I’m small, so I get to eat pretty much what I wish to eat. Obviously I just don’t eat junk food, all my meals are homemade and healthy, thanks to my girlfriend.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Danny: Everyone has their right to an opinion, but horses aren’t forced to race, they do it because they enjoy it. It’s in their nature to compete. The horses in racing get extremely looked after.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Danny: When I get some time to myself, which isn’t often, I like to play football and taking the dogs on a walk, which both are a good way to maintain fitness. I’m pretty much into anything outdoors.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Danny: The person I look up to would be Brian Hughes. The way he rides is admirable, everything just looks smooth. He’s always in the right place at the right time in races. He has helped me a lot since I started out and I have a huge amount of respect for him.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Danny: The one race I would love to win would be the Grand National. It has always been a dream of mine. Toby Dobbin, who’s from the same town in Northern Ireland as me and is a family friend, won it, so it would be great to win it.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming years?

Danny: My overall goal would be just to try and ride as many winners as I can and to keep improving and learning over the years.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Danny: My horse to watch over the next year or two would be Marown trained by my boss Nicky Richards. He is currently unbeaten in 3 starts, one in a bumper and two over hurdles. He’s a big, strong type, proper chasing type. In time he can only improve from what he has done now. Will be exciting to see what the future holds for him.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Danny: My favourite course, I have to be honest, but one would be Carlisle because, one, it’s only 20 minutes away which helps, but also it takes getting used to, you have to be in the right place at the right time around there. You need a horse which can travel and if you go too soon, you’ll never get home, but if you leave it too late, it’s hard to make ground up that hill. Timing and jumping is everything around there.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Danny: My advice to anyone who has a passion for something, whether it’s sport or other things, is to never stop chasing that passion, no matter if people put you down, people will always doubt you, but when you prove them wrong it will all be worth it. If you believe in it, you will achieve it, it’s just some hard work, dedication and self belief, that’s all that’s needed.

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Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Danny for taking the time to talk to me. I think he is definitely someone to keep an eye on, he is very knowledgeable in the sport and always open to learn more, which is always a good thing. I, for one, can’t wait to watch his progress!

Thank you for reading. I will see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Phillip Dennis.

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An Interview with Amy Murphy

Amy Murphy

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing to you an interview with the brilliant, quickly up and coming trainer Amy Murphy. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What’s your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Amy: On the flat, my favourite day would be the Tuesday of Royal Ascot and National Hunt, it would be the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.

Me: What’s the goal for you and the team? Grand National, Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, what’s the dream?

Amy: My goal as a trainer would be to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. For the team, more realistically, my goal would be to constantly hit and better the targets we set at the beginning of each season. In doing so, I would hope that we can then improve the quality of horses in training.

Me: If you could train one horse that is currently in training elsewhere, what horse would you choose and why?

Amy: Enable, for obvious reasons. She is everything that you would look for in a racehorse.

Me: Do you ever get any down time? What’s your favourite thing to do when you do get some spare time?

Amy: The best down time for me is having a relaxing day with my family and friends with a glass or two of champagne. 

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Amy: I would ask them to take the time to visit my yard and see first hand the five star care and attention the horses get and then tell me whether they still think the horses are suffering from cruelty.

Me: Kalashnikov is one of the most loved horses over the past few years, how is he? Where do you hope he goes next season?

Amy: This National Hunt season did not go to plan for Kalashnikov. However, he has had a period of rehab and will now have a long summer break out in the field with the other National Hunt horses. I would expect him to be back in the early part of the Autumn 2020/2021 season.

Me: What’s your favourite race course to visit?

Amy: My favourite flat track would be Chester and my favourite National Hunt track would be Fakenham for the friendly country feel you get.

Me: What is your ‘horse to watch’ that you train?

Amy: A horse to watch for the future would be Rudaina over middle distances on a flat galloping track.

Me: What’s your favourite race to look back on as an owner, rider or trainer?

Amy: My favourite race to look back on would be the Betfair Hurdle, again for obvious reasons.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding discussions of banning the whip?

Amy: With regards to the whip debate, I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, I feel the whip should not disappear as, if nothing else, it is an aid for correct measures in a race.

Me: What is your best piece of advice for a young person following their passion, whether that be in racing or something else?

Amy: My advice would be to follow your dreams and make sure you get plenty of hands on experience in order to make sure your dreams become a reality. Also, never be afraid to ask for other people’s opinions and advice.

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Firstly, as always, I want to say a massive thank you to Amy for taking the time out to speak to me. Personally I think Amy is a trainer to watch, she is a brilliant trainer, a lovely person and overall just a great female ambassador for our sport.

I really hope you all enjoyed this interview and I shall see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Danny Mcmenamin.

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