An Interview with Charlie Poste

charlie poste

Hiya guys!

Today’s post is a very interesting one. I got to sit down with Charlie Poste and interview him and I can honestly say he is one of the most knowledgeable people within the sport that I have had the honour of speaking with. He genuinely knows so much about the sport, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, I hope you guys enjoy it too. Without further-ado, let’s jump straight into it!

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

Charlie: Win or lose, erm I suppose winning the Welsh National on Le Beau Bai, it was like my first big winner. I had been riding for a good while and you start wondering whether you’re ever gonna have those big winners and those nice pictures on the wall when you retire and so that was a massive moment for me. I rode a lot for Richard Lee in my career as well and the horse himself, he was a lovely horse, tough, good jumping, just a proper proper race horse, so that was the best day.

Me: On from winning the Welsh National, Chepstow is a hard track to ride around, a lot of jockey’s have said that, what’s the secret? How do you get a horse to win at Chepstow?

Charlie: I don’t know. I suppose a lot of my big winners in my career were related in staying chasers on bad ground, which meant I rode a lot of slow horses more than anything. But I think around there, it is a nutritional test because of the ground but the fences come in lovely places, it’s a proper rhythm track and certainly the likes of Le Beau Bai, he was a real accurate great jumper, he’d always land in rhythm whether he was in deep or standing off a fence and that stood him in some stead that day. Giles Cross made the running and I just followed him the whole way really and he didn’t miss a beat the whole way around so on bad ground like that you’re always saving energy because you’re jumping well and not missing fences and having to chase him back into the bridal and I think that’s key around tracks with bad ground, rhythm is the most important thing.

Me: You currently break in horses including a Cheltenham winner and Supreme Novice second in Thomas Darby for Olly Murphy, how much joy do you get seeing a horse you’ve broke in go on to succeed and do so well?

Charlie: It’s massive, you know. Along side the breaking we also produce horses to run in point to points and sell and we’ve got Third Time Lucki who runs in the Champion Bumper (*We now know he came fourth for Dan and Harry Skelton). We are very well supported by Olly, we break in most of his youngsters and the likes of Thomas Darby are special talents. And I look at it now, my life has changed and you’re sort of running an academy, like a youth academy and to get on these horses initially, the likes of Thomas Darby, who has loads of athletic ability to start cantering him and jumping him, it’s a bit of alright, you know? I can’t wait to see him go and to see them actually go and back it up on the track, they’re not like your kids, but as I said, it’s like being a youth team coach at a Premier League football club and seeing someone and thinking ‘he’s a bit special’ then seeing them go through the ranks and go on to do them on the big occasion, it’s very special.

Me: And do you have any horses with you currently you think can go on and be something special?

Charlie: From the point to pointing group we’ve got this time, we actually sell a horse at Cheltenham on Thursday night called Kenyan Cowboy who won on debut, he looks very good. And we’ve had, actually because of the weather we’ve been held up, but we have a lot of young horses ready to come out. We’ve got a lovely horse by Court Cave called Adjournment that looks like he could be very special, he might make his debut this weekend at Larkhill (*We now know he came second. He is currently for sale so if interested contact Charlie via his Twitter page). Another called Fox in the Box by Presenting, again they’re both not far off being ready to run and you’re hoping with a bit of luck they’re able to win their point to point and go to the sales and make plenty of money because that means the wheels can keep on turning and then what you want, a bit like Thomas Darby and all these horses we break in, to become high achievers, because that’s the most special thing.

Me: If you could ride any horse that is currently in training, what horse would you choose and why?

Charlie Poste: Erm, I’m gonna give two to you. For a proven one, I’d love to ride Altior, I just think he’s the most special horse. To win a Supreme Novice, Arkle, 2 Champion Chases and he just looks like the most lovely horse to ride. You can put him anywhere in a race and you know he’s going to hit a bit of a flat spot, but you know when it really happens and the turbo kicks in, he’s always hitting the line very strong. I love to see that in a race horse where they’re galloping through the line in a finish. I think he’s, not an underrated champion but I think he is a very very special horse. And for emerging horses, I think Envoi Allen looks like he has the world at his feet. I was at the sales when he won his point to point and was sold for big money and then I was lucky enough to be in the paddock at the Champion Bumper last year and he just looks like the most beautiful, big, scopey model just walking around, taking it all in, acting like he owned the place and then backed it up with a tremendous performance. His hurdling career has been perfect so far, you want to see him win in the Ballymore (*We now know he did in fact win the Ballymore at 4/7F for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell). and then sort of move on and whether he goes chasing or stays hurdling next year in the Champion Hurdle. But we need these elite level horses that are absolutely the best of the best because that’s what really markets the sport.

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

Charlie: Erm, I think it’s difficult. Now, from the outside looking in, I remember when the whip rule got reduced from sort of 16 to 8 and we were all up in arms about it, saying ‘this could never happen, it’ll ruin racing’ but actually what it did was make riding better because all of a sudden riders are thinking about when to use the whip, not going for it too early. And for me the most obvious solution is, we need strong leadership from the BHA. Of course we don’t want to pander to the outside world, but we have to accept in a modern world that perception is key to maximise the marketing potential of the sport and to invite other people in. And I think the most sensible thing in the short term is the BHA come out and say if you go over the limit, you get disqualified and what would happen is, even if it happened once or twice, trial it in a period where there aren’t big festivals so the riders can get used to it and if it happened once or twice, it would never happen again. And I think what would happen then is you would have riders that, if it was 8 over jumps, you’d probably only go to 4 or 5 because you’re gonna think I’m not even gonna risk losing count or maybe being 8 or 9 and not sure. And I think riding would improve again for it. I don’t feel unfortunately there is a tide and a wave behind it where the whip will eventually go but short term, to prolong it, because I do think it’s a useful aid for a jockey then the disqualifying anyone who goes over whether that’s a placed horse, unplaced horse or a winner, that’s the most sensible solution.

Me: Looking beyond the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National is soon approaching. Who do you think has a good chance? Do you think any horses were helped or hindered with the weights? Do you think Tiger Roll can win again? (*We now know the Grand National is cancelled, however I have kept this question in because I found Charlie’s answer interesting).

Charlie: I mean Tiger Roll, we all know the O’Leary’s play this game every year moaning about the handicapper and whatever else and you know, Tiger Roll is off 170 and I know he’s got a couple of pounds extra because of his Aintree factor, but it’s fair enough isn’t it when you win 2 Grand Nationals. And in any other era, Tiger Roll could easily go in for a Gold Cup, he’s a horse with an enormous amount of ability, I’d love to see him go on and do it and again, it would be great for racing and the wider world looking in. Another one I think would be pretty special, I’d love to see Ramses De Teillee win the Albert Bartlett then win the Grand National, I think that would be a pretty unique double to win. A novice hurdle at the Festival then the Grand National.

Me: Are there any horses currently who are just starting out that you can see going on to win the big ones like a Gold Cup or Grand National?

Charlie: I suppose because we’re in the infancy of what we do, a lot of these horses are only just emerging on the scene, for Olly called Here Comes McCoy who was in the market for the Champion Bumper, I don’t think he runs, I think maybe he goes to Aintree, but he looks like a horse with an enormous amount of talent. Other ones coming through like I K Brunel I think he could be a very special horse when he goes novice chasing. I mean and looking at the Festival itself, you’re looking at horses like The Big Breakaway, The Big Getaway of Willie’s, you know these novice hurdlers are laden with talent and what you’re hoping for is something from there steps up to the next grade and becomes a real superstar.

Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Charlie: My favourite day, the Cheltenham Festival it’s the Tuesday, everyone is tingling with excitement and I think the racing across the board with the Arkle, Champion Hurdle, Supreme Novice, I think it’s unrivalled, the quality of racing. From a spectators point of view I love Glorious Goodwood, we go every year for a couple of days and as far as flat racing goes, it’s as good as it gets. There’s a slightly more sort of interested crowd that go rather than Ascot where people go for the social. I think Glorious Goodwood is as good as anything.

Me: What would you say is your favourite track you ever road at?

Charlie: I mean the smaller ones, like Towcester, I had a lot of success there, like I say riding slow horses but I always enjoyed riding around there. For the bigger tracks, Cheltenham is a stand alone, everyone says Cheltenham. My favourite track to ride at was the chase track at Sandown, the 7 fences down the back, it’s just a massive test of jumping and to go round there on a speedy 2 mile chaser, you can’t beat it.

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

Charlie: I think they need to come in and actually… I think it’s like anything, it’s easy to have an opinion from the outside looking in. But if you want to come in and see the care these horses are given and all that goes into and you still feel like that, then fair enough, but I think it’s a lot of throw away comments that people make. I think you have to remember, when all is said and done, we love these animals but they are selectively bred to do this job, if there was no racing, there would be no thoroughbred. If you go into the yards and see the care given day in, day out and the love showered upon these horse by the stable lads and girls and the jockeys, I assure you now, when I have ridden a horse and it’s ended up losing it’s life, it bloody hurts and you have to move on from it, but you go home and you feel like hell about it, it’s the last thing you want to happen. And when all is said and done, when I see the care and love that’s given to them all, it’s a compromise that I am willing and completely comfortable with because I actually drive around the roads and see horses stood in the fields that are malnourished with no care and attention. These guys and girls, the horses they’re given, they’re given 24/7 the best of the best and it is terrible when we lose the odd one, but as I said, it’s a compromise I think I am completely comfortable with.

Me: And the final question, what is your best piece of advice for a young person with a dream that they want to follow whether in racing or outside of racing?

Charlie: Get in and work hard. There’s not substitution for working hard. As a young rider, if you want to get on in the sport, regardless of your riding ability, come in, work hard, know form inside out, get fit, be polite as well. Good manners and a great work ethic will take you a long way.

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Again I would like to say a massive thank you to Charlie for his time, he was an absolute gent and as I said before, he knows so much about the sport it’s incredible. 

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I have conducting the interview and writing it out.

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An Interview with Luke Harvey

Luke Harvey

Hiya guys!

Today’s post is an interview with the brilliant Luke Harvey, retired jockey and now pundit for the likes of ITV Racing. I had a brilliant time interviewing Luke, he is so funny, so down to earth and so honest. I hope you all enjoy!

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

Luke: My favourite race was winning the Welsh Grand National on a horse called Cool Ground. And he was a big favourite leading up to the race and I just wasn’t nervous, I thought he was a certainty and it never works out like that in horse racing, but luckily it did.

Me: If you could ride any horse currently in training, what horse would you choose?

Luke: If I could ride any horse now… I love Altior. Whether he runs at the Cheltenham Festival or not, I don’t know. (*we now know he didn’t.) I just love… he’s a winner. You know if you see a boxing match and you see a boxer walk around, he’s like that, he’s just got the swagger. I don’t know, he just enjoys going to the races, he enjoys his work, he loves to do it and I love people like that, I hate lazy people.

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

Luke: They have changed dramatically, I think now that if you break the rules, you should lose the race. I wouldn’t have said that if you had asked me that question 6 months ago, I definitely wouldn’t have said that. But we have boxed ourselves into a corner where I don’t think it’s acceptable and I don’t think the public think it’s acceptable that a cheat, theoretically if you’ve broken the rules, gets the race. And I think… welfare and the use of the whip is massive in racing and I think the people that bury their head in the sand and think it’s going to go away are fools. Because that is the biggest talking point and the biggest thing that will affect racing going into the future, so I think it’ll get kicked out if they win.

Me: What is your favourite racecourse as a rider and as a pundit?

Luke: I love Cheltenham, whatever. As  jockey I wasn’t particularly successful, to be honest I wasn’t particularly successful anywhere. The track I was most successful was Towcester and they’ve finished, typical. No, I love the Cheltenham Festival, it’s my favourite, I really enjoy Aintree, I love dressing up and going to Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. In all honesty, I like them all. They’ve all got their days. And I like the smaller tracks like here at Stratford and because I come from the West Country I love Newton Abbott. But yeah I like them all.

Me: What is one race you never won but would have loved to?

Luke: Loads I never won. I would have liked to get around in the Grand National. But no, I would have loved to have won the Grand National, I only rode in the race twice and one year I rode a horse called Country Member and he was about third or fourth favourite and you know what I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so nervy about it because I genuinely thought he was going to win and anyway, he fell at the first.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ over the next couple of seasons?

Luke: Erm, I really like a horse that is running at Cheltenham called Brewin’upastorm (*we now know he fell on Tuesday). He’s won his only two starts over fences and he’s ridden by Richard Johnson, Champion Jockey and I think he could have a really big future in front of him. And Shishkin who runs in the first race at Cheltenham, Nicky Henderson’s horse (*we now know won), he could be… he’s just under that bracket where he could be another Altior, he looks that good.

Me: You obviously work for some of the biggest broadcasters in racing, some jockey’s never go down that route, why do you think you went into that? What do you enjoy about it?

Luke: Erm, I was lucky to get involved in that. I was lucky I got a job for Radio 5 Live and I dunno, I was interviewed a couple of times for the original racing channel and as you can tell I can’t shut up and that’s quite good if you’re going to be a pundit and I just sort of fell into it. You won’t be surprised to learn I’ve never had any training and look, I think if you know your subject and you’re passionate about it… I’m 53 and I go racing and I get excited, I still get excited now and if you do that… I think if you’re false the viewers will always see through you. People that put things on and try and be someone they’re not, they always get caught out and I think, there will be plenty of people who don’t like me but I am who I am and I’m honest with it.

Me: Beyond the Cheltenham Festival, we have the Grand National soon approaching, who do you think has a good chance? Have the weights helped or hindered anyone? And can Tiger Roll win for a third time?

Luke:  Well first, lets start off with Tiger Roll who has been the most remarkable horse, I’ve followed him throughout his career and to go and equal what Red Rum did… Red Rum is one of my favourite horses of all time so it’ll be mixed feelings if he went on to equal it. But I’d love it and it would be great for racing if he could do it. If he runs the same race he run last year, he will win in my opinion. There’s a horse called Le Breuil who runs in the race that I really like. He stays really well, he’s trained by Ben Pauling. I don’t think the weights… look if you have the best horse you’re going to have the highest weight and anyone who winges about that… you get more weight on a horses back for winning so if you’re a winner you’re gonna get more weight. A couple of pounds either side when they were going on about Tiger Roll, it’s one jump, one little mistake, it’s irrelevant to him. If he’s in the same form, he will win.

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

Luke: Learn. Come to a stable. In my sort of job I’ve had people come onto me on Twitter. Come to a stable, you can find out, someone like myself can take you to a yard and you can go there… I ride out every single day of my life and will continue to do so, you can go somewhere at 6 o’clock in the morning and watch how those horses are treated. You go there and see how well they’re fed, how well they’re kept, how happy they are. Anyone who thinks you can make half a tonne of animal race when it doesn’t want to, I don’t see… it just doesn’t happen. Any athlete, a footballer, if you’ve got 11 players in a team and 10 are eating healthy and doing exercise all of the time and 1 eats McDonalds and doesn’t do anything in the week, I can guarantee he’s the one not doing any good. And it’s the same with horses, if they’re not given the best, treated the best, they cannot be the best. And so, it’s impossible. That’s another thing that racing has got to do. We’ve go to educate people, show them. People don’t know. It’s very easy someone like myself, I can just explain to them, but they just think we whip the horses and make them do what they don’t want to do, you can’t do that, it’s an impossibility. But as I said, it’s our job to educate people.

Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Luke: My favourite day is Grand National morning. Not necessarily the Grand National itself, but last year I did a course walk interviewing Bryony Frost at quite a few of the fences and just to go up to those fences again, it gets me buzzing. And the other thing I like, Cheltenham is brilliant, it’s got a great atmosphere, we’ve all got tweed brown coats on, but you go to Aintree and it’s a different feel. You’ve got people who go racing once a year, they dress up, they don’t care what the weather is, they’ll dress up exactly the same and it’s a different atmosphere and I like that. I like when they have concerts, I like to introduce as many different people as we can. Racing should be fun, it’s a recreation and yeah, I just like as many people to come along and enjoy it.

Me: What is your best piece of advice for a young people trying to follow their goals and their dreams?

Luke: If you come into horse racing it is the most brilliant… it educates you and is the most brilliant sport you will get involved in. I actually left school at 16 and I haven’t got one single qualification… 25 metre breaststroke badge… But apart from that, I learnt so much, I was going out like a young person would but I knew I had to be up early to muck out because I knew if I didn’t someone else would have to, so someone always made sure I was out of bed. It gives you good work ethic. My brother is actually chief feature writer for The Sun, he was a very poor rider, but he was so well educated he couldn’t get another job so he came into horse racing and he worked as a stable lad for 2 years and he was a very poor rider, but even now he says ‘it put manners on me’. You learn… you’re looking after an animal and you’re responsible for that animal and it’s just… it gives you a work ethic and that’s what I base everything in life on.

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I firstly want to say a massive thank you to Luke. I personally love Luke, he is such a passionate person and I love that, he clearly loves this sport and I think people like him are key to the future of this sport, truly passionate, educating people and sharing his knowledge. 

I really hope you enjoyed reading!

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An Interview with 20 Time Champion Jockey AP McCoy

AP McCoy (1)

Hey guys!

Today I am ecstatic to bring to you one of the biggest interviews I have done to date. The legend that is AP McCoy. In my time AP is the best jockey I have witnessed, he is also a brilliant ambassador for the sport and an all round gentleman and for a while now we have been talking and discussing a potential date for when we could get together for an interview and yesterday on the first day of Cheltenham that finally happened! AP has been super supportive of the work I’m doing to reach out and introduce the sport to more people as well as showing people the behind the scenes and the things you may not get to see as a racing fan, which I have found super interesting, so to have the support from someone such as AP is huge for me and genuinely means a lot. I am so thankful to AP for taking some time out of his ridiculously busy day to have a chat with me. I really hope you enjoy!

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Me: When I interviewed Richard Johnson he said he missed you in the dressing room as a friend more than anything, what do you miss the most about Richard?

AP: I miss him torturing me every day to try and make myself better. We actually… even though we were competing against each other every day we were the best of friends. Obviously we were in the weighing room together every day together and we were the very few people in their every single day. Erm, since I’ve retired I’ve been really pleased he’s managed to win the last 4 jockey championships. He’s a great credit to himself and a great credit to the sport. Yeah I really miss competing against him because he always brought out the best in me.

Me: If you could ride one horse that is currently in training, what horse would you choose?

AP: Erm, I think I’d probably like to ride Tiger Roll going into a third Grand National because you know it’s a brilliant story him going on to try and win a third Grand National. Hopefully everything will go okay before then. But yeah, I’d probably say he’s a bit of a people’s horse, he’s a bit of a celebrity in his own rights so he’s probably the one.

Me: Onto the Grand National, do you think the weights have hindered or helped anyone in particular and do you think Tiger Roll can go on to win it?

AP: You know, it’s gonna be a tough task for him but I think he deserves the weight. And what I think and what a lot of bookmakers think is he’s gonna win. He’s a pretty outright favourite in my opinion and seemingly in everyone else’s opinion too.

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

AP: Erm, I never feel like I have to justify this sport to anyone. I think if a few of these protesters outside the Grand National at Aintree and you brought them a horse that was running in the Grand National and tell them to take them home and to look after them, I’d love to see what the reaction is. I don’t have to justify my love for the horses or my care I have for these horses to anyone, especially not someone who has no interest in the actual animal themselves and actually loving the animal and caring for the animal and doing what we do. So I think we spend too much time justifying ourselves to people like that.

Me: Obviously you suffered a lot of injuries during your career, just how important are the Injured Jockey’s Fund?

AP: Yeah the Injured Jockey’s Fund are hugely important, we’re very lucky to have such an organisation for current and past jockeys. It’s something that not every sport has and I think it makes me very proud of horse racing to have such an organisation.

Me: How important was Dave Roberts to your career as a friend and an agent?

AP: Dave Roberts was someone I spoke to every day for twenty odd years, he guided me in the right direction and gave me great advice. He has unbelievable knowledge of the sport and had as much of an obsession in winning as I had and I definitely wouldn’t have won or been half as successful without him.

Me: Do you see any young jockey’s now that could go on to break your record?

AP: I think records always get broken and mine are no different. There are certain things that I think will be obviously harder than others, you know I think in 2002 January to January for 7 years I rode for Martin Pipe who was numerically dominant, I don’t know if jockey’s now will ever be lucky enough to have that support from someone who is as numerically dominant as Martin Pipe was. So to ride 207 winners is something I think will be hard for another jockey to do in a calendar year. I broke Gordon Richard’s record in 2002 for 289 winners in a season and again, that would be tough. I think you need a little bit of luck to stay in one piece to win 20 consecutive jockey Championships so you know, they will need a little luck but it can be done.

Me: As an Irish man, do you ever regret not riding in Ireland more?

AP: No, look I, obviously being from Ireland I left there when I was 20. I spent four and a half years riding for Jim Bolger and that was the making of me. Would I have liked to ride in Ireland more? Yeah, I loved my time in Ireland. But I got into the position in this country where I as champion jockey for a period of time and that became my obsession maintaining that level and that’s why I spent as much time riding here as I did in my career.

Me: Onto the final question, what is your best piece of advice to a young person wanting to follow their dreams?

AP: I’m not from a racing family, you know I have 4 sisters and 1 brother who have never ridden horses in their life so it can happen. And as John Magnier said with Aidan O’Brien it’s hard work and it’s available to anyone you know, if you work hard enough then who know’s what could happen.

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Firstly, again I just want to say a massive thank you to AP for taking time out of his day to speak with me. He was truly a gentleman and I appreciate it so much. Personally I think he is a brilliant ambassador for our sport, not only is he the best jockey I have witnessed in my life time, he is also someone with extensive knowledge in every area of the sport and he is also someone who will make time for anyone, take as many photos that are requested by racing fans, talk to everyone, shake hands with everyone, just all round a brilliant guy.

I am of course ridiculously grateful to be given the opportunity to interview AP and I really hope you have all enjoyed this post!

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Worcester Races + EXCLUSIVE Interview with Richard Johnson

worcester

Hey guys!

So this is probably my most anticipated post EVER. So many people who knew about my interview with Richard Johnson have been super excited to be able to read it, especially a very very EXCLUSIVE never before discussed Cheltenham Festival tip, which will be hidden somewhere in this post so make sure you read all the way through! 

So onto the post… I was lucky enough to be invited by the lovely people at Worcester Racecourse to a day of racing to experience their track and to interview a jockey or trainer of my choice. I chose one of the most successful jockeys of our time and the current Champion Jockey Richard Johnson, so that interview will be all included in this post. The aim of this collaboration is to show people, especially younger people that horse racing is not animal cruelty like most people think, in fact, these horses are some of the best treated animals I have ever seen. The people who care for them have true love and adoration for their animal and they treat them like royalty. 

Firstly I would like to thank Worcester especially Katherine who arranged for this to happen, I am super grateful for the opportunity to work with them as a company. The racecourse in itself is probably one of my favourite courses that I have been to. It is quite an open course so from the stands you can see 99% of the course, some courses I have been to the most part is behind trees etc and you don’t see much apart from the home straight, so I loved the fact it was so open and you could see the majority of the course. I attended Worcester twice within a few days, once invited and then I decided to go again on my own accord and I love it as a course overall. 

For me, I have always loved horse racing, it is something my parents, especially my dad, watched a lot whilst I was growing up and I took a real interest in it at around 16/17 years old, at 18 I began working for a bookmakers, which made me even more interested in horse racing as I was around it all day, every day and since then I have fallen in love with attending different courses, seeing different horses, meeting different jockeys and trainers and it really is something I enjoy doing.

Over the two days I was lucky enough to meet a few different people, including Jonjo O’Neil and Nicky Henderson, two world class trainers as well as Chris Hughes from Love Island who was part of the Jonjo O’Neil team and someone I never imagined I would meet as he very very rarely rides outside or Ireland, Barry Geraghty which was truly an honour as a massive horse racing fan.

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And of course I met the incredible Richard Johnson who I had the privilege of interviewing. So here is the part you have all been waiting for. I sound recorded the interview, so here it is written word for word how it went down. Including the very exclusive Cheltenham tip so do not miss that part!

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

Richard: Definitely not. To be honest anyone that thinks that they should always come and actually see what the horses do on a daily basis. They are literally cared for 24 hours a day, you know in great accommodation, their stables are fantastic, they literally have first class treatment you know, they get fed 3 or 4 times a day and they are cared for and the girls and lads that look after the horses, they’re like their pets basically. They don’t own them obviously, but they look after them as if they’re their own. And they have a fantastic life and they enjoy racing, no way in the world me as a jockey could make one of these horse jump one of these fences today you, know. I can’t physically make them go over, you know they have to enjoy it. Yes, unfortunately there are injuries along the way and that’s sad for everybody, but erm you know. The horses do enjoy it and I rode ponies when I was young because I enjoyed it and we all get enjoyment out of it and hopefully the public that come racing regularly, that’s what they see and enjoy.

Me: What is your favourite day in the racing calendar?

Richard: Oh god, it’s hard. I’m very spoilt because obviously I get to ride lots of nice horses as well. But I think the Cheltenham Festival is four days rather than one day but the Cheltenham Festival it’s a big build up throughout the whole season. That’s like our Olympics or World Championship I suppose, each year. The Irish come over in their droves to come to the races and the horses, it’s a massive outing, the Irish horses come over to run and yeah the four days at Cheltenham, obviously I’m from Hereford, not far from Cheltenham and I’ve lived around there for a long time so the atmosphere there is fantastic and anyone that, Worcester is obviously a great track for the Summer, but Cheltenham, if you want to go and get the atmosphere of a big race day there’s no better place.

Me: Do you miss AP (McCoy)? And if you, what’s the biggest thing that you miss about him?

Richard: I miss him. I miss him in the weighing room because he was a great friend obviously and I rode with him for over twenty years, so erm yeah we were great friends and I miss him as a great friend in the weighing room. I don’t miss him on the race course, in the fact he used to beat me regularly. But again, he was great to ride with because he was a great jockey and you know, it helped me try to chase him and made me more hungry and hungry to try and ride more winners and try to beat him and you know we had a great sort of competitiveness between us and erm again, we were also great friends and we had ups and downs and you know we both had good and bad days so you know it was always nice to have a friend in the weighing room to talk to as well.

Me: Looking ahead to the new National Hunt Season horses, what do you think will be your best ride at Cheltenham?

Richard: Oh gosh, again, very hard, like we just said Cheltenham is a long long way away but even now people are still talking about it. Erm, I would love to think Native River could come back in the Gold Cup and go two spots better than he did last year. He was 3rd in the race last year and ran really really well. Erm you know, this season we will be geared for him to be running in the Gold Cup again so I suppose he’s my big hope. I think for me, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is, I’ve been very lucky to win it once before a long time ago in 2000 but if I could win in any race that would be the one I would like to win.

Me: Do you every get nervous before or during a race?

Richard: Erm, I think I always get a little bit nervous before a race, I think you, you want the horse to perform to it’s best level it can, erm you’re always thinking about the race and trying to work out what you want to do and you’ve always got a plan, plans don’t always go exactly how you want, but again that’s sort of you know, you’re always, you just want things to go right and as soon as you jump off in the race, your focus is on what’s going on and I think a little bit of nerves is probably a good thing. If you’re not nervous at all then you’re a bit over confident and sometimes, yeah it’s never good to be over confident.

Me: During your time as a jockey, what has changed in regards to social media being introduced and younger fans?

Richard: Erm, massively. You know obviously even you know, with two racing channels now on TV and social media whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or all the other things, you’re sort of out in public light I suppose and you know you’ll have good days where obviously you’ll get lots of lovely messages and good praise and then obviously you have bad days where things don’t go right and you know you get the other side of it. And it is sad, you’ll read things about yourself and think everybody out there is doing their best and you know, mistakes can happen and do happen and that’s a part of life really. Sometimes stuff that is put on some of the social media isn’t very pleasant and it would be lovely to think there is a way of stopping it but that’s life and I think we’ve all seen good and bad social media but on the whole social media is brilliant, it gives everyone a chance to have an opinion and hopefully everyone’s got the common sense behind what they say as well.

Me: What’s your most memorable race, win or lose?

Richard: Erm, again, erm, I suppose, erm.. two really. Rooster Booster winning the Champion Hurdle, again, a few years ago now erm, he literally, I was a passenger. I went around on his back and he travelled really well, he jumped fantastic and he flew up the hill at Cheltenham. And honestly, I can’t believe, even to this day, how easily he won. Erm, it was just, yeah, a dream ride for me and I suppose finishing second in the Grand National on Balthazar King, he was just an amazing horse for use for a long time and I must admit going to the last, I thought I was going to win and from the last to the winning post we just couldn’t get past the one in front and he gave two hundred percent and you know there was no disappointment, it was just you know sad for him not to win, but again I had an amazing ride on him and I suppose, yeah, that’s the one, I finished second but it was still an amazing ride.

Me: Does it still play on your mind that you haven’t won the (Grand) National yet?

Richard: Erm, it’s obviously a race I would like to win. Erm, I mean again, I’ve been second in it twice and sometimes when you finish second it’s almost worse than finishing third because you think well if this and if that and erm, the Grand National is one of those races I think you’ve got to take what you’re given really because you never really know what’s out there with forty horses running in the race. Erm, I’ve had lots of good rides in it and again we’ve gone close twice and it’s a race I would like to win before we finish.

Me: We go to the Gold Cup and Grand National next year for the first time so no pressure.

Richard: If I win both the Gold Cup and Grand National next year, if that’s the case you’ll have to come to every Gold Cup and Grand National after that.

I just want to take a moment to thank Richard for being one of the loveliest people, this was my first time interviewing someone so I am so grateful he was so lovely, patient and kind when with us. He was also super honest and so easy to get a long with whilst asking him questions and having a chat.

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For me, you’ve heard it from the current champion jockey just how in love and well looked after the horses are. He said that the horse is 5 times the size of a jockey so they wouldn’t be able to force it to do something it just didn’t want to do, so clearly the horses enjoy it or they wouldn’t be there doing it. Did you all pick up the cheeky Cheltenham tip too? Native River is currently being rode out and geared up for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and himself and the team think he has a better chance this year. So definitely a horse to keep your eye on as he is already in training for the big race!

I am so happy and grateful I had this opportunity and really can’t thank Worcester, Katherine and Richard enough for everything. Worcester have one last race day this year so check out their website here if you’d like to attend that, something I definitely recommend: http://www.worcester-racecourse.co.uk/

I personally love horse racing, the atmosphere is great and in person you really do see how well looked after the horses are and I would recommend it to anyone. If you’re a student, Katherine did inform me that they have started doing a student race day at Worcester, normally held in May, so definitely keep your eye out for that because it is such an interesting sport and a great day out for families, friends, couples, everybody can enjoy it.

I really hope the wait for this post was worth it, I hope you enjoy my very first ever interview and I hope you keep your eyes peeled for Richard Johnson’s tip. I will see you all in my next post!

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