An Interview with Ed Chamberlin

Good Morning!

Welcome to another post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. I hope you have all been enjoying the extra posts here this week and are starting to feel excited for the Cheltenham Festival. I will have 5 more posts after this one in the week to follow, they will be going up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday all at 6pm and on Saturday at 11am. Today’s post, I am very excited for. I got to sit down and talk to someone I look up to in the industry and that is of course Ed Chamberlin, who you all may know as the face of ITV Racing. We spoke about all things racing, including him being the ambassador for WellChild – a charity who will be working closely with the Cheltenham Festival in the week ahead and the work they do and why they are so important. I will leave a link at the bottom of the interview to their website so you can read more and look at ways you can support them. Ed was very supportive and offered me a lot of helpful advice which I am super grateful for. I really enjoyed this one so I hope my readers will too!


Me: For the first question, I am going to throw you straight into the deep end and ask if you could own any horse currently in training, what horse would you choose and why?

Ed: Gosh, good question. It would be… either… there’s three and they’re all novice chasers. It would be one of Envoi Allen, Monkfish and Shishkin. The Gold Cup is the race I’d love to win more than any other, so that rules Shishkin out, as brilliant as he is. And I think, I’d go for Monkfish. I think Monkfish is an extraordinary looking animal. I’m no judge of a horse and I’ve referred to him a couple of times on ITV as a monster but actually when you see him in the flesh he’s not. He’s tall but he’s also quite thin. He’s like a ballerina at his fences, he’s just the most brilliant athlete who’s obviously got stamina to burn. And if ever… A bit like lego, if you were ever to put together a Gold Cup winner, I think you would probably put together like Monkfish. And look Envoi Allen might have more brilliance than him and might be more mercurial than Monkfish, but they don’t always win Gold Cups. It’s a really tough question, but I’m going to go for Monkfish.

Me: What are your first memories of racing?

Ed: The first memories would be as a 7 year old with my Grandfather who lived in Somerset. He was mad about racing, to such an extent that my mother’s 18th birthday present was a Tote credit account. My Grandfather loved it. His passions in life were cider and betting on the Grand National was his favourite thing and I just got caught up in that. The first race I can remember was the 1981 Grand National where, he always let me have a couple of quid on a horse and I had it on Spartan Missile who finished second in that Grand National and I was gutted. I had no idea that this was the greatest racing story of all time with Bob Champion and Aldaniti winning the Grand National. And from that moment I was hooked! I took on the huge responsibility of being in charge of the family sweepstake. And I start looking forward to the Grand National weeks in advance, I always remember sleeping better as a small boy the night before Christmas than I would the night before the Grand National because my excitement was just off the charts for the Grand National. And yeah, I was just totally consumed by it and once you get into something like that, it just snow balls and racing very quickly became a passion of mine.

Me: Following on from that, what is your favourite race to watch back?

Ed: To be honest the 1981 Grand National is right up there. There’s so many, I love going back down memory lane on Racing TV and I love all the high profile ones, Dawn Run, Desert Orchid’s Gold Cup. And lots of flat racing since we’ve covered the sport. Crystal Ocean against Enable is one that leaped off the page, Big Orange beating Order of St George in the Gold Cup as well was just a great battle. We’ve been very lucky to have some great performances. But my favourite horse of all time, it’s a bit random to be honest, Dublin Flyer was my favourite horse ever. There were two performances he put in, one was over the Grand National fences and he jumped them as good as any horse you’d see jump them in the John Hughes Memorial but my favourite race of his, it was called the Mackeson then, now the Paddy Power Gold Cup when he rallied to get up and beat Egypt Mill Prince, I think that’s my favourite race of all time.

Me: What is your favourite racecourse to present at and why?

Ed: You are horrible asking that question! Oh goodness, that’s so difficult! The best thing about my job is every week – well not at the moment – but in normal times every week is different. Going to a different track every week is so exciting because they’re all so different and so cool in so many different ways. I’m not going to sit on the fence, but the ultimate buzz to present is the Grand National because obviously it’s to around 10 million people in this country and hundreds of millions worldwide so that gets the adrenaline going more than any other. But I also love doing the smaller days at Kelso and my local track Wincanton, I love those days. But the big festivals are just fantastic to present. Cheltenham Festival, Glorious Goodwood, York, Royal Ascot and everything that goes with that. Royal Ascot is the hardest to present because I have to be on top of everything from the Royal Procession through to the singing on the bandstand and the races in between. I think my single favourite day to present is Derby day. Because it’s the one day, just to sum it up, that I have to wear two ear pieces so I can hear my director, it’s that noisy. It’s like a cauldron and it’s the closest I get with the way that, the straight at Epsom, with the crowd on either side, the open top buses, it’s the closest I get with my old job which was presenting football at old fashioned grounds like Anfield and the old White Hart Lane which just used to have an intensity that’s very hard to describe because you were just so close to the action and the crowds felt on top of the pitch. And you get that at Epsom. And on Derby day, I get moved to the front of the stands for the classic, the Derby, and that is just unbelievable, it really is. And that would be my favourite experience of a normal year. The year gone by sadly, it was probably the worst experience I’ve had on a racecourse just because I love it so much. I actually didn’t present the Derby very well in 2020. If I could have another go at one race it would be the Derby. It was just so, it was a really depressing day with marshals guarding the fence, not to let people in. A Derby run in silence was a pretty desolate experience.

Me: At the beginning of the year I interviewed Mick Fitzgerald who spoke very highly of you, telling me how you aim to get the best out of everyone you work with and that’s why people love working with you. What do you enjoy most about being a part of the ITV Racing team?

Ed: It’s a very good question Zoe. Gosh, that’s very kind of Mick Fitzgerald. I feel like I want to be the referee, I don’t want anyone talking about me. When you’re the presenter, it should never be about you. I never offer an opinion on much because I’m there to get the best out of other people. And the one thing I’ve tried to install since joining ITV in 2016 to start in 2017 was to try and create a team ethic. I always wanted us working as a team and the first thing I did was to introduce a rule where everyone had to get together the night before a meeting at 6 o’clock. Obviously that’s difficult now, but we’ll do it for Cheltenham next week. And I wanted to create an environment where we’re in it together, whether you’re Anthony McCoy or the runner that makes cups of tea, I wanted us all to be working together. I wanted us to have a production meeting together, eat, drink, laugh as a team. And I think we’ve really go that ethic which hopefully shines through on screen because we obviously have our disagreements but we are one big family on ITV Racing across the board, everyone behind and in front of the camera, we all work together. Summed up by last week, which was a very tricky week, you know, we were… various whatsapp’s, zooms and we really stuck together and worked together and I think that’s really important in any walk of life – working as a team. And I really do love the team dearly and I hope that comes across on screen. And Mick is such a big part of that, I’m surrounded by a lot of really good team players and that’s what I wanted when I started.

Me: Since working with ITV Racing, what’s been your favourite moment to present?

Ed: Lots of ups and downs. Day 1 didn’t go to plan, I remember that, January the 1st 2017 – That was the hardest. There’s been lots of lows and lots of highs. We learn from the lows and we keep the highs in perspective. If I was to say one, Tiger Roll obviously was the closest to my heart, when he won the Cross Country and the Grand National, I was very emotive. It was a bit like presenting a Southampton win in my old job in Premier League football, it’s very hard to keep your emotions in check. That horse, I just became very close with him. But if I have to say one hour that suck out, I’ll always say the best moment I’ve had in television is when Manchester City won the Premier League with the iconic Agüero goal and Martin Tyler’s commentary. But the hour at Cheltenham a couple of years ago when Bryony Frost won the Ryanair on Frodon which had us all choking up because her interview was so good. It was a very emotive experience. And then immediately to have that followed by Paisley Park winning for Andrew Gemmell, Emma Lavelle, Barry Fenton, Aidan Coleman and just this warrior of a horse in Paisley Park, honestly it was… I remember being praised in the newspapers afterwards for being a bit like Des Lynam in not saying much, I let the pictures breath, which is a very important skill for a presenter. But that wasn’t a choice by me, that was because I found the whole thing emotional and I wasn’t capable of speaking even if I wanted to. Because Emma is one of my favourite people and to see Andrew Gemmell who’s been blind since birth getting such a thrill and enjoyment out of Paisley Park winning was just an extraordinary bit of sport. We called it the golden hour, it was magical and that’s what we need next week. We need stories like that to show just what a magnificent sport this is and how wonderful the horses are and get racing back on the back and front of the newspapers for the right reasons. Stories that only racing can write.

Me: Before you moved over to ITV, you worked for Sky, how did you find the transition from football to horse racing?

Ed: I found it really really difficult. Incredibly difficult. Switching sport is not something I’d recommend to any young presenters out there. I still don’t find it easy now, but I got it very wrong at the time, I thought… When I left football Leicester had just won the Premier League and I thought I needed to know everything about racing, because you know, I’d been in football nearly 20 years and I thought I needed to know absolutely everything. I went everywhere trying to learn every aspect of racing, but in hindsight, that was a mistake because in my job you don’t need to know everything. It helps to have it stored away but you don’t need to use it because as I said earlier, you’re there to get the best out of other people. And ITV Racing, I very quickly learnt that the real racing fans, there aren’t very many. The large bulk of our audience… Like Cheltenham next week, we’d like to think we’ll get well over a million each day, and only in the tens of thousands of those are the real racing fans, the rest are generally just sports fans who like to dip into racing. We are part of the entertainment industry and it’s got to be entertaining and I quickly learnt you can’t please everybody every show we do. People say ‘we need to see more of the horses’ or ‘we need something else’ or ‘we need more betting’ or ‘we want more social stable’ and you have to accept you can’t win and you need a thick skin to stick to what we’re doing. I’ve learnt a lot in the four years and trying to get that balance right is very difficult and we’re never going to get it 100% right, of course we’re not but the way we’ve grown our audience over the four years is very satisfactory because it’s been nice to prove people wrong. There are a few articles last week, where one journalist said jump racing was in danger of extinction, well more people are watching jump racing now than they have in a very long time. We’ve obviously got a challenge to keep those people, but it’s very popular right now on ITV and during lockdown that’s obviously accelerated dramatically with people watching so that’s quite satisfying for me, but I want to keep doing that. I want to keep getting people to enjoy what I think is a brilliant sport. Our mantra has always been since day one to make racing accessible to as many people as possible and that’s something I’m passionate about and will continue to do.

So to answer your question, it was a lot harder than I expected it to be and a lot more challenging but I’ve learnt rapidly and hopefully the viewing figures back up the way we’ve done it.

Me: I think it’s important because with ITV Racing it is presented in such a way that you don’t need to be an avid racing fan to truly understand what’s happening.

Ed: The key thing there, to any presenter watching, television is very subjective. Everyone has a different opinion on television but the media training I do, the key thing as a presenter is to make people feel welcome, to make people feel warm and a part of the show. Particularly now when a lot of people suffering and a lot of people are fed up, give them an escape for a couple of hours, feel part of our coverage, make people feel welcome to it – That’s always what we’re trying to do. Make racing welcoming to everybody.

Me: That always comes across when you are watching ITV Racing.

Ed: I always say, people sometimes like to compare us to racing channels, you don’t need to do that. My ethos is if I can get people into racing and enjoying it and they then take out a subscription to Racing TV then I’ve done my job. That’s what I want to happen.

Me: With Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, what would you say is the best bet of the week?

Ed: Best bet of the week… There’s a few I fancy actually. I think Soaring Glory will go very well in the opener, the Sky Bet Supreme. But I think if I had a bet of the week, I’d love Paul Nicholls to have a winner at the Festival because he’s so good for the game and I just hope the love is shared and Willie Mullins doesn’t just win absolutely everything… So I think I’ll go for Bravemansgame in the Ballymore. Challow Hurdle winners at Newbury have got an awful record in the race, but hopefully he can break that because his owner is a good friend of mine in John Dance and I just think Bravemansgame has got something very special about him. And he’ll go off at a decent price because on the preview circuit their talking about Bob Olinger as if he’s absolutely past the post already so that’s going to make the price for Bravemansgame, so I’ll go with him.

Me: And in terms of the Festival, WellChild have been announced as an official partner, you’ve worked with them for many year as an ambassador, can you tell us a little bit more about what they do and how important they are and what partnering with the Cheltenham Festival will do for them?

Ed: I’m so pleased you’ve asked that because… I find it very emotional to talk about actually. For me, it’s very surreal. I’m looking at the Cheltenham Festival magazine here supporting WellChild and when I first starting working with WellChild 10 years ago they were just a very small charity in Cheltenham. They just struck a note of something that meant the world to me, someone who was very ill 10/11 years ago and seeing a children’s cancer ward was like no experience I’ve ever gone through or ever want to see again. It was much worse than the experience I was going through in the ward next door. And, I said to myself then, if I can come through the other side of this, if I can do anything to help get children out of hospital and looked after at home. The sight of a young child in hospital just broke my heart and what WellChild does is it looks after and nurses seriously ill children and it nurses them at home which I think is the most important thing. So things like my annual golf day, WellChild awards, marathon runners – that type of thing, helps fund the nursing at home. There are some desperately sad stories, yes. But there are also some of the most inspiring young people you’ll ever meet. We’ve got them drawing pictures for this year and this is the biggest boost for WellChild at a really difficult time. They’ve had a torrid year, when you think that all their fundraising events have been cancelled. My golf day – cancelled. London Marathon – cancelled. WellChild Awards- cancelled. And they’ve really suffered, then suddenly this idea came about.

The local community in Cheltenham is one of the things we’re really going to support this year, it’s the theme of the first day, we’re doing a theme each day. Day 1 is local community and WellChild ticks that box as well as B&B’s, hotels, taxi firms in Cheltenham. And for WellChild, the exposure and hopefully fundraising is just going to make the wold of difference to a lot of WellChild families and a lot of seriously ill young children. Which I just find emotive and surreal and incredible what Cheltenham and the Jockey Club have done here. And again, it just shows how awesome racing is.

It’s given everybody who works for the charity a huge boost, it’s given the nurses a huge boost and I just hope the families get a real buzz out of it. I had to do a judging of the pictures the young kids had drawn. With kids as young as 5 drawing picture of horses and Gold Cup’s… How am I supposed to pick the top 3? I wanted to pick all of them! I can’t give too much away for next week but there’s going to be some very clever signage and little touches to support the kids. Which again, I might go a little bit quiet on ITV and you doing this interview you’ll know why I’ve gone quiet. It just means the world to me.

The Jockey Club and Cheltenham have got so behind the cause and you’ll see what they’ve done at the racecourse just how much they’ve committed to it. Because some people say ‘it’s ridiculous, a charity shouldn’t be spending money at Cheltenham’ but actually, they’re not spending any more. This is all the Jockey Club and Cheltenham supporting the charity.

Me: Beyond the Cheltenham Festival is the Grand National, with it being announced Tiger Roll won’t be running, who do you fancy now to take that crown from him?

Ed: I fancy one quite strongly actually. I think after what Cloth Cap did the weekend, he’ll take the world of beating, he was on springs around Kelso, he will absolutely love jumping those fences. And I would absolutely love to see Trevor Hemmings win the Grand National for the 4th time. If he doesn’t warm people’s hearts and boost spirits, nobody will. His enthusiasm is infectious at his ripe young age. But from a betting point of view, I think Secret Reprieve. Now I, it sounds like he’s definitely going to bypass Cheltenham and it sounds like from Evan Williams quotes, even though he’s not committing him, it sounds like the Grand National might be the plan. And off 10-1 after his performance in the Welsh Grand National he’s going to be absolutely running free. And that day, he just looked like a Grand National winner, the way he jumped and he obviously has stamina in abundance. The Grand National these days is a race where they go pretty quick and stamina now is more important then ever, you’ve got to stay every yard. You’ve got to look for a horse that stays and Secret Reprieve we know he stays, he’s off a great weight clearly and he’s made for the race. The owners have gone so close in the National before, it would be great for them to win it and I think Secret Reprieve stands out a mile.

Me: Another thing I wanted to touch on was social media, you worked in TV before social media was really a thing, how much would you say it has changed your job, the industry and sport as a whole?

Ed: I think it’s changed the world a lot, I wouldn’t say it’s changed my world. I’d be someone that says as a presenter if you listen and broadcast to social media then turn out the lights and give up the game because it’s a dangerous thing to do. I used to really embrace social media, I enjoyed it and I’m talking about Twitter here primarily, but I feel very differently about it now. I worry about it, not for myself, it doesn’t bother me, but I worry about it for young people like yourself because it can be a horrible, horrible place. And some of the messages I have to receive and to be fair, most of them I am old and uglier enough to just laugh at but, come on, why can’t people post under their real identity? I just don’t understand that. I’ve seen you upset on there few times, I’ve seen other people upset on there and it really worries me. I have two kids and I don’t want them growing up having to listen to some of the stuff and I don’t want them to read the stuff about their daddy. People need to think before they post, they need to be kinder and they should have their name on their profile. I spend very little time on their now. It can be a very good information source, it’s got lots of brilliant people, but the last week… Lee Mottershead, it sums it up. The reaction to Lee Mottershead to what he said on Sunday, fine don’t agree with him, I didn’t particularly agree with what he said, but the vile, horrendous stick he had to take just makes me despair. 24 hours after I had said the lesson of this whole episode is that racing needs to listen and we need to be better at listening, accepting criticism, learning from criticism and then that happens and I just despair sometimes. As I said, I’m old enough and uglier enough, it doesn’t worry me and I don’t spend a lot of time on there. But then things like Instagram I absolutely love, it’s great fun! You must not get too caught up in it because Twitter does not reflect real life, I promise you. I listen to everything, I read everything but most of the stuff I just laugh at. I used to react to it, but I try not to do that anymore because it’s just not worth it.

Me: What would be your best piece of advice for a young person who has a passion they want to follow?

Ed: Go for it. Be determined, you just… In life you need a bit of luck but when you get that bit of luck, take advantage. So my lucky break was one of the senior executives at Sky was watching Bloomburg Television one day, I think one man and his dog watches Bloomburg Television, but I used to go on there to do a sport preview show and they saw me there. I had no interest in working in television at the time, I was a journalist. And that was my lucky break and when I got my lucky break and was invited into Sky my attitude was take advantage. The door had opened for me, it was up to me to barge my way through it and then really make the most of it and that’s what I did. Then I had another lucky break when I became the face of Premier League football on Sky when Richard Keys and Andy Gray left sky, again the door opened for me and I took advantage. That’s the way to do it. But these days it’s very different to when I started. For someone like yourself, you’re doing exactly what I recommend to people. Get yourself out there with interviews, blogs, podcasts – there’s so many things you can do now to get yourself out there and get yourself seen an I know it’s a cliché, but it only takes one pair of ears or one pair of eyes to see what you’re doing and think ‘that’s good’ and then you might get an opportunity and take advantage. So if you’re interested in the media, if you’re interested in writing, journalism holds the key. So, I would be very disappointed if anyone that does a role similar to mine turned down an interview from a young person like yourself. And you’ve just got to have that initiative and that determination to do it, which you’ve clearly got in spades and I’m full of admiration for that. So my advice to young people is be brave, get yourself out there and work damn hard.

Me: Just to finish the interview, I’ve been asked to ask you by my friend Kian Burley, if he can still have your job with ITV Racing when you decide to step down?

Ed: Bit worried about my mortgage at the moment so he might have to give me just a few more years yet. And I’m rather enjoying what I’m doing at the moment – The question I get asked more than any other in supermarkets and garages is why did I leave Premier League football and they also asked me when will I go back to Premier League football. To which my response is I’m in no hurry whatsoever, I’m enjoying what I’m doing. So you’ll have to tell him, I’m not ready to give it up just yet.

Me: That’s everything from me, I want to thank you for taking your time outto speak with me, I really appreciate it.

Ed: Honestly, to see someone showing a bit of initiative like you are, I’m all in favour of supporting. I turn down lots of things as you can imagine, but I will never say no to something like that. You can tell hopefully from my ethos and attitude. But you have to promise me one thing… Don’t get too upset by people on social media.


After the interview ended, Ed spoke with me about everything I was doing in more detail and gave me so much advice and support and I just want to say a huge thank you to him, I understand totally how busy he will be in the run up to Cheltenham but for him to give up his time to sit and speak with me on a lengthy phone call and give me some support and advice also, meant a lot to me, especially as he’s someone I look up to in the industry.

As I mentioned at the top of the page WellChild are an incredible charity and I am so glad I got to speak to Ed about the work they do. There website is: https://www.wellchild.org.uk/ – I urge everyone to check out their website where you can find out more about the work they do and also donate if you can afford to.

I am really grateful I got to speak with Ed and I really hope everyone enjoyed this one as much as I did! Leading into the Cheltenham Festival I have a post Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening’s at 6pm and another next Saturday morning at 11am so a very busy week ahead on my website and I hope to see you all back here for all of those!

Thank you so much for reading, I will see you tomorrow at 6pm for my next post: The History of the Champion Hurdle.

1981 Grand National: Bob Champion – The Greatest Comeback

Good Morning!

Welcome to another post in my Horse Racing History series here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Today I decided to do a little research into a horse racing legend Bob Champion and how he successfully had one of the greatest comebacks within our sport, or even within sport in general and I just had to share with you all!

Robert Champion CBE was born on the 4th of June 1948 in Sussex, shortly after moving to Guisborough in Yorkshire. Known as Bob Champion, he became a very popular and successful jump jockey. However, at the height of his career, in July 1979, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, where he was treated with chemotherapeutic drugs and also had an exploratory operation to identify cancer in his lymph nodes. Luckily, Bob successfully recovered and even returned to riding racehorses again.

On the 4th of April 1981, it was the 135th renewal of the Grand National at Aintree. Bob Champion made a return to this iconic race and it was an achievement just to come back to be able to ride in one of the biggest races in the world, however, to win it would be something pretty spectactular wouldn’t it?

Bob Champion took the ride of Aldaniti who had recently recovered from chronic leg problems and was nursed back to optimum race fitness ahead of the race. So overall, seeing Bob Champion, who has recently come back from cancer win on a horse who had recently returned from a severe problem, this would be a pretty incredible thing to witness and at 10/1, it was not something many expected to happen.

However… Making the comeback of all comebacks, Bob Champion and Aldaniti won by 4 lengths to the 8/1 favourite Spartan Missile. Their victory was special and one that nobody could forget in a while. This victory also earned them the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award.

In the 1982 Birthday Honours, Bob Champion was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his contribution to sport.

A year later in 1983, the Bob Champion Cancer Trust was established. They help to support and raise funds for a research laboratory which is situated in the institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, Surrey and they also have a research team in the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Norfolk. You can find out more information as well as how you can support and donate to the Trust right here: https://www.bobchampion.org.uk/

Bob Champion later became a trainer based in Newmarket, his first horse being Just Martin for owner Frank Pullen who also helped to build his yard. In 1999 Bob Champion retired from training horses.

On the 22nd of December 2011, Bob Champion received the Helen Rollason award as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In the 2021 New Year Honours, Bob Champion was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to prostate and testicular cancer research. It is said that so far in the region of £15 million has been raised.

I wasn’t alive to see Bob win the Grand National, but my parents have spoken to be about it many times, including when we met Bob at a meeting in 2019 and my dad filled me in on the whole story and how he made the ultimate comeback so I decided I needed to look into this and write something up.

Overall, Bob Champion is exactly as his name states, a champion. He is living proof that no matter what happens to you, you can always come through it so much stronger than before. Bob had a deadly disease, but he came back to win the biggest race in the world and what a true inspiration he is to do so. I really enjoyed reading into Bob Champion and even though this is a shorter piece, I really hope you enjoyed it! I shall see you all in my next post.

Rubio: The Retired Grand National Winner

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a new post in my Horse Racing History series. I hope you enjoy!

The 1908 Grand National was a strange one because the horse who won it had actually already been retired. How? Why? So many questions. So let’s get right into it!

Rubio was an American bred racehorse. He was bred by James Ben Ali Haggin in the Rancho del Paso stud in California in 1898 by Star Ruby out of La Touera. As a yearling Rubio was sent to the United Kingdom when he was purchased for 15 guineas by a Northamptonshire farmer and horse dealer Septimus Clark in 1899. He then sold him to Major Frank Douglas-Pennant for 95 guineas. As a four year old Rubio was sent hunting. However, being a good judge of horses, Major Frank Douglas-Pennant soon noticed that he had a lot more to him than most of the horses around him so he made the decision to look to sell him as a potential racehorse with a reserve of 60 guineas. However, he failed to reach his reserve so therefore Major Frank Douglas-Pennant decided to send Rubio as a 5 year old to be trained as a racehorse with the successful trainer Brian Bletsoe.

Rubio started as a relatively successful horse. In his first season he won three races from three starts, however very soon after he broke down badly and his vet advised him to be removed from training. Based on this advice Rubio was sent to the landlord of the Prospect Arms Hotel in Towcester to ferry guests between the station and the hotel. Rubio seemed to enjoy his new role and in 1906, just three years later, it was decided that Rubio would go back into training as a racehorse once again.

This time, Rubio entered into training as a racehorse with Fred Withington. He got back to race fitness and ran once in his first season, this time at Kempton where he finished third. In 1907, Rubio only ran 3 times, including one win at Towcester where he carried 12 stone.

We then move into the most fascinating year, 1908. Rubio was doing well, so it was decided he would be entered into the Grand National. However, he wasn’t fancied at all, he wasn’t even the most fancied in his own stable. Another horse also trained by Fred Withington called Mattie McGregor was the most fancied horse of the stable. Therefore first class jockey Ernest Piggott was given the ride on Mattie McGregor and the stable jockey William Bissill was given the ride on Rubio. It is said that Bissill was very unhappy about being given the second string horse to ride, however Piggott was riding in France for a regular owner he rode for and they would not release him to ride Mattie McGregor. It was then decided stable jockey Bissill would ride Mattie McGregor and a jockey who had previously won on Rubio as a 5 year old Henry Bletsoe would ride him. However, sources also say that Rubio was then trained by William Costello, so therefore it was not the same stable which caused so much drama between the jockeys in the first place.

There were 24 runners in the race and it was the 1905 winner Kirkland who headed the betting. However at a massive 66/1, Rubio ended up beating Mattie McGregor and winning the race. This was the first time a horse who had retired to do another job was actually brought back and managed to win a Grand National.

Sadly, Rubio returned in 1909 however fell at the water jump. He returned to the stables and the vets found he had broken down again so the decision was made to retire him completely from racing with immediate effect.

So there we have it, a retired horse winning one of the biggest races in the world. An incredible story to research and I had to share! My history series is a very interesting one, but they always seem to be shorter posts, however I hope you enjoyed it and I shall see you in my next post!

1997: The Postponed Grand National

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a brand new post in my Horse Racing History series and it is all about the 1997 Grand National, which was actually postponed. I would like to send a massive thank you to Mike Parcej who actually attended Aintree on the day and sent me over a first hand account of what he saw that day and I am super grateful. Throughout this post I will be quoting a lot of what Mike told me, as I believe this is the best way to really get a feel for how it was on the day! (All quotes from Mike will be in bold text.)

On Saturday 5th April 1997, it was the scheduled 150th running of the Grand National taking place at it’s usual home of Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. However, it didn’t take place on this day, instead taking place two days later on Monday 7th April, but why? Let’s get right into it!

The day started as normal. Intimidating police presence, everyone pushing all over the place, trying to find a quiet spot to have a coffee, a few presentations and thankfully plenty of room around the vast embankment of the huge paddock. The one place where you could actually see the horses! There was absolutely no indication of what was to come, it was just another Grand National Day.”

The day went pretty normally, the first few races took place without a hitch. However, at 2:49pm a bomb threat was made via a telephone call to Aintree University Hospital. Three minutes later at 2:52pm a second call was made, this time to the police control room in Bootle. Both callers used a recognised codeword used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). They warned that there was at least one device planted within Aintree Racecourse.

With no announcement at this point, the paddock screen suddenly went blank and the message ‘would all racegoers please leave immediately’ came up. I was on my feet and out of the front entrance like a bullet from a gun. My mate Andy was hanging around awaiting further news but I was having none of it. In my mind a bomb was going to explode and I was out of there at once.”

The police evacuated 60,000 people, stranding 20,000 racegoers, media personnel and all horse connections and their vehicles locked inside the confines of the course. At first spectators were evacuated from the stands and sent onto the course itself, however the police consulted with course clerk Charles Barnett and then advised via a live broadcast that everyone should leave the course immediately.

Out front, I have never seen such scenes in my life – sirens, police cars all over the place, the big black Royal car with Princess Royal being driven away at top speed. There is a bus stop outside the track and between the madness a bus for Liverpool City Centre came through like a rescue helicopter coming out of the fog. I turned around and was horrified to see Andy in a burger stall queue for a coffee! I shouted ‘Andy I’m getting on this bus’ he said ‘wait a bit I’m getting a coffee – I shouted ‘you do what you want, I’m getting on this bus’ so he grumpily joined me.”

Most of the competing horses either travelled home or were moved to Haydock Park Racecourse, while a dozen remained at Aintree in their stables. At 4:14pm the police carried out two controlled explosions at the course. Aintree responded by opening their homes to racegoers who were stranded in the city overnight, with tens of thousands temporarily homeless for the night, being offered places to stay at homes surrounding the course.

It was one of those ‘I was there’ days but for all the wrong reasons.”

The race was then set to be run two days later on Monday 7th April at 5pm, less than 10,000 people were expected to return to Aintree, however over 20,000 turned up to watch the race 49 hours later than originally planned.

When the race was finally run, a 9 year old 14/1 shot called Lord Gyllene won by 25 lengths with Tony Dobbin riding carrying 10 stone exactly.

I was disappointed that they didn’t run the Amateur Riders Chase and the Bumper that were due to be run after the National as well. After Lord Gyllene had won, they all stood up and said ‘the terrorists didn’t beat us after all’ but for those who had runners and horses in those two latter races, the terrorists did win.”

Interesting to note as a side reference, during ITV’s coverage of the 2017 Grand National, it was revealed that another bomb threat was made on Monday 7th April 1997, however Merseyside Police were confident that this was just a hoax and the race took place without any disruption.

If you want to see footage from the day I found a YouTube video you can watch right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xok12BpmChQIf you go to 2:19:00 this is where the commentators start to become aware of evacuations taking place. I must say it is a very interesting watch for someone like myself who has never seen this footage before!

As always, my Horse Racing History posts are not always the longest, but sometimes the most interesting posts I write! I enjoyed researching this one, especially speaking with Mike and getting a feel for the day from someone who was there. It’s a very interesting day to research and look into, but also a very sad one, however luckily nobody was hurt in the proceedings and eventually the Grand National did get to go ahead.

Again, I want to thank Mike for giving us a brilliant insight, and I hope you all enjoyed this one. It’s a heavy, tense one to take in, but after my previous Grand National post, this one was highly requested! I will hopefully see you all on Wednesday evening for my next post!

1993: The Grand National That Never Was

Good Morning!

Welcome to another post in my Horse Racing History series! Today’s is a very exciting one, just two weeks before my older brother was born, the 147th running of the Grand National took place but as always with my history stories… It didn’t quite go to plan! Let’s get straight into it…

On April 3rd 1993, the 147th running of the Grand National was scheduled to take place at it’s regular home of Aintree Racecourse, the day started off as it always did, then things suddenly took a turn. Before the Grand National could take place, fifteen animal rights protesters invaded the course near to the first fence, the second time in 3 years, a repeat of the 1991 Grand National 2 years prior, this caused the start to be delayed. However, that isn’t the biggest turn of events that happened that day.

When the race was finally ready to start the horses lined up as they normally would, however a false start was called when several riders became tangled in the starting tape. The starter was a gentleman called Keith Brown who was officiating his last ever Grand National before his retirement, he waved his red flag, then the second official Ken Evans who was 100 yards down the track signalled to the runners to turn around.

So they go again, on the second attempt, the tape became tangled again, this time around the neck of Richard Dunwoody, again causing a false start. However, this time his recall flag didn’t unfold itself as he waved it, which in turn meant that 30 of the 39 runners set off around the track, oblivious to the false start and the recall.

Officials, trainers and the crowd tried to halt the race, however the majority of the field continued on. By the 6th fence, Becher’s Brook only 1 of the 30 starters still competing had fallen. The BBC’s commentary team at the time were Peter O’Sullevan, John Hanmer and Jim McGrath and they continued to describe proceedings all whilst reminding viewers that ‘it’s got to be a void race’.

It wasn’t until the water jump, the final fence of the first circuit, that many of the jockeys became aware of the situation and pulled up, this included Champion Jockey Peter Scudamore on Captain Dibble and most of the horses to the rear pulled up also. Peter Scudamore pulled up due to seeing trainer Martin Pipe waving at him near the water jump to stop.

However, 14 horses continued to race into the second circuit. In the end, it was 50/1 shot Esha Ness ridden by John White and trained by Jenny Pitman who crossed the line first in the second fastes time in Grand National history. Only 7 horses finished the race.

Immediately after the race finished there was a lot of confusion as to what would happen next. Starter, Keith Brown was interviewed by BBC and hinted that there was a possibility that the nine jockeys who noticed and obeyed his recall could be eligible to take part in a re-run. A short time later several jockeys said that they though the officials attempting to stop them were actually something to do with the protestors from before the race. Esha Ness’ jockey, who unofficially won the race, John White, said that towards the end of the race “I could see there were only a few horses around, but I thought the others had fallen or something”.

The Jockey Club later declared the race void, ruling out any re-running of it and they subsequently launched an inquiry. At this stage bookmakers were forced collectively to refund an estimated £75 million in bets staked.

An inquiry was later conducted, headed up by High Court judge Sir Michael Connell, the deputy senior steward of the Jockey Club since 1988. His report portioned some of the blame to starter Keith Brown for allowing the horses to get too close to the tape in the first place, however most of the blame was aimed towards the second official Ken Evans for failing to notice the second false start. Later that year Keith Brown retired stating “it was very sad for all concerned, whatever could go wrong that day, did.”

Following the official inquiry, a 34 page report with recommendations was approved by the Jockey Club. Public discussion had included the possibility of introducing electronic devices, however the use of modern technology was dismissed on the basis of a lack of total success overseas and being open to sabotage or technical failure. The tape at the start line was made more sturdy, consisting of 3 strands instead of 1 with a more distinctive pattern and the width of the start was also reduced.

It was decided that when a false start is called, two official who are in constant contact with the starter via radio, will have fluorescent yellow flags that they wave at the jockeys, further up the course there will also be a third official who is positioned to stop those who fail to notice the two initial flags. If necessary, the third official can follow the field in a car to stop them.

This was the first and so far, the only time that the Grand National has been declared void and hopefully it will never happen again!

I hope you enjoyed this one, I feel like my history posts are sometimes a little short, but they’re also very interesting and I love doing the research into them. I hope to continue this series with plenty more stories. I have created a Google Form which you can access and input any ideas you may have that you would like to see me cover, this can be any historical stories, people to interview as well as any original ideas of content you may like to see me put out onto my site. I appreciate all of the feedback I get weekly from my readers so it is only fair I create content which best suits my audience and that my readers want to see! You can access the form right here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScg5vZg8Xonpg8l-3S6gVSwS3FPx8wiGFUcmkPX9qXiSW9QQQ/viewform

Thank you again for reading! I will see you all in my next post!

An Interview with Kian Burley featuring Hannah Burley

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today I am very excited to bring to you an interview with the one and only Kian Burley. I spoke with Kian and his mom Hannah on the phone last weekend where we discussed all things racing so without further ado, let’s jump straight into it!


Me: First things first, what made you get into horse racing?

Kian: So I like watching it on the TV and it’s the best sport and it’s so much fun because it is interesting when they have hurdles and fences.

Me: And when you went to Cheltenham last year, what was your favourite winner that you seen?

Kian: Shishkin.

Me: Do you think it will win again this year?

Kian: Yeah!

Me: What do you think is one horse that will definitely win at Cheltenham this year? What is the best horse going to Cheltenham this year?

Kian: I think Appreciate it for Willie Mullins.

Me: Do you think Willie Mullins will win another Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo or do you think something else will win?

Kian: I think something else will win it this year.

Me: Do you know who yet or have you not decided who yet?

Kian: I don’t now yet!

Me: And what about the Grand National, do you think Tiger Roll will win again?

Kian: I think Tiger Roll will win it again.

Me: And now, of course I have to ask you Kian, obviously Paddy Brennan is your favourite jockey, why do you love him so much?

Kian: Because he’s the best jockey in the whole wide world.

Me: And apart from Paddy, what other jockey’s do you like watching?

Kian: Connor Brace, Liam Harrison, Max Kendrick, Will Kennedy, Harry Skelton, Callum Rodriguez and Eoin Walsh. I like them all!

Me: And when you went to Cheltenham and you got to meet all the jockeys and trainers, who was your favourite person to meet?

Kian: Gary Windass.

Hannah: He met Gary Windass off Coronation Street and that’s all he ever goes on about! He was sat on the table next to us at Cheltenham and now that’s all he ever goes on about. Who was your favourite jockey to meet though?

Kian: PADDY!

Me: And when Paddy walked into your school Kian, how did you feel?

Kian: Amazed! I nearly fell of my chair!

Hannah: To be fair, only his class teacher, headteacher, me and my mom knew about it. The school had sent a letter out to get permission for other children to be on camera so Kian came home from school and said ‘aw we’re gonna be on camera but I don’t know what for. So me and my mom were saying ‘oh we don’t know what that is’. Then Barry from The Jockey Club had rang me and said if we ask people who wants a microphone on them do you think Kian will put his hand up and I said 100% yes he will, so when Barry came in and said we need a helper to have a microphone on do we have any volunteers, Kian put two hands up, he was making sure he got picked!

Me: How did it feel at Cheltenham Kian when everybody knew who you were?

Kian: Amazed! I had about 4 people ask for selfies!

Me: What was your favourite part of the day?

Kian: When the cameras were following me around.

Me: And of course you go down to Ravenswell to see Fergal and the team too, who’s your next favourite trainer aside from Fergal?

Kian: Erm… No one.

Me: Just Fergal?

Kian: Yes!

Me: How often do you go down to Fergal’s?

Hannah: It’s whenever we can get down there really, they’re 3 hours away from us, so when we go we have to set off at 4 in the morning…

Kian: We’ve gotta be down there for half 7!

Me: I was lucky enough to go down last year and I loved it down there. I think the whole team are just lovely to speak to.

Hannah: They are! They’re lovely. They’ve all got so much time for Kian as well and the Doc, Dr Simon is absolutely brilliant with him. They’re all just so nice.

Me: When you do go down to Ravenswell, who’s your favourite horse?

Kian: All of them!

Me: All of them? You don’t have a favourite?

Kian: No.

Hannah: He does… It is Imperial Alcazar?

Kian: Yeah!

Me: And what do you think when Fergal has a horse and he runs miles and miles ahead of all the others? He’s had quite a few that I’ve seen that just run off a million miles ahead!

Kian: I think what are you doing? Like Totterdown!

Me: So apart from Fergal’s horses, what’s your favourite horse you’ve watched?

Kian: Cue Card!

Hannah: When you watch your YouTube videos, what’s the race you always watch?

Kian: Cue Card winning the King George!

Me: And what race courses have you been to so far?

Kian: Everywhere!

Me: What one is your favourite?

Kian: Market Rasen!

Me: And obviously I know you get on really well with Doctor Simon and I seen the other day you was winding him up on Twitter about his cardigan, what did you think of his cardigan, have you seen it yet?

Kian: Not yet.

Hannah: What do you think of cardigans? Would you wear one?

Kian: NO!

Me: Do you think it will suit Doctor Simon wearing a cardigan?

Kian: NO!

Me: I feel like I have to ask you because Fergal is known to love his cakes, so what’s your favourite cake?

Kian: Victoria Sponge.

Hannah: You little fibber! You like chocolate cake!

Me: I seen on Twitter that you wrote a letter to Boris didn’t you?

Kian: Yeah and an email!

Me: Did you get a reply?

Kian: No! I wrote to Her Majesty the Queen!

Me: What did you say to the Queen?

Kian: About her horses.

Me: Do you watch flat racing and jumps?

Kian: I like them both!

Me: What’s your favourite flat race?

Kian: St Leger!

Me: And what’s your favourite jumps race?

Kian: Gold Cup! I remember when Paddy won it on Imperial Commander!

Hannah: You don’t remember it, you’ve seen the videos of it.

Me: And your mom’s always tweeting saying how you scream the house down whenever you’re watching the racing and now you have the biggest trending quote in racing…

Kian: GO ON PADDY LAD!

Me: Everybody shouts it now don’t they?

Hannah: When we were at Cheltenham and we were walking through people were stopping him to say go on Paddy lad! Even now when he goes into school people will shout go on Kian lad!

Me: What do you want to do next after lockdown?

Kian: Get back to racing!

Me: Where do you want to go next?

Kian: Every racecourse!

Me: Is that the plan? To do every racecourse?

Hannah: We’re going to try and go to Ireland too and see some Irish racing.

Me: Talking about Irish racing, I seen you met Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham too, what did he say to you?

Kian: Aye up Kian lad!

Me: Everyone just knows who you are!

Kian: And I met Ruby Walsh!

Hannah: When we first went through the gates Ruby Walsh was stood there and he said ‘hiya Kian’.

Kian: I spoke to Davy Russell, Nico de Boinville and Harry Cobden. I spoke to everyone!

Me: To finish off Kian, what are we telling everyone to bet on for Cheltenham?

Kian: Imperial Alcazar.

Me: And as Fergal’s assistant, do you know what race he’s going into yet or have you not decided?

Kian: We haven’t decided. I had a look and I think the 3 mile staying hurdle.

Me: With Fergal do you advise him on what to do or does he advise you?

Kian: I advise him!

Me: Thank you for talking to me today Kian!

Kian: Thank you!


Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Kian and Hannah for having a chat with me, I thoroughly enjoyed our call and talking about all things racing. I think Kian is absolutely brilliant for the sport and I think he has a long future in the sport with whatever he chooses to do next.

And secondly, if you haven’t already seen, Kian has started up his very own blog and I highly recommend going over to his page to have a read of his work: https://theassistanttrainer.wordpress.com/.

Again thank you to Kian and Hannah for their time and I hope my readers enjoy this informal interview/chat as much as I have!

1928: The Record Breaking Grand National

Hiya!

Welcome to a new post in my Horse Racing History series! Today’s is another interesting story which I felt I needed to share!

The 1928 Grand National was the 87th renewal that took place at Aintree Racecourse on the 30th of March and to this day, it still holds a record, can you guess what record that is? Let’s get straight into it!

On March 30th 1928 it was very misty in Liverpool and the going for the Grand National was heavy, being unofficially described as ‘very heavy’. With 42 horses declared to run, it started off a very normal race. That was until the field approached the Canal Turn of the first circuit.

At the Canal Turn, Easter Hero took a fall which then ended up causing a pile up of fallers including the starting price favourite Master Billie who went off at 5/1. Out of the 42 starting horses, only seven emerged from that pile up with their jockeys still seated.

The race continued with the seven remaining contenders, however when coming to the penultimate fence, there were only three horses left standing, Great Span who was 33/1 and currently leading ahead of Billy Barton who was also a 33/1 shot and closely followed by Tipperary Tim who had a starting price of 100/1.

Great Span’s saddle then slipped, which left Billy Barton in the lead who also ended up falling. Which left 100/1 shot Tipperary Tim as the last remaining horse. With baited breath, he did manage to jump the final fence safely and complete the course. The only horse to finish the race. Interestingly though, Billy Barton’s jockey Tommy Cullinan managed to remount and eventually complete the race. So the finishing order was Tipperary Tim at 100/1 winning for amateur jockey Mr William Dutton, trainer Joseph Dodd and owner Harold Kenyon. With Billy Barton eventually finishing the race in second place at 33/1 for jockey Tommy Cullinan. Due to the excessive distance between the two horses, the winning distance was officially declared as ‘a distance’.

With only two horses completing the course, to this day the 1928 Grand National set the record and holds the record for the fewest finishers in a Grand National.

Ironically, before the race Tipperary Tim’s amateur jockey Mr William Dutton’s friend had told him “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall” – Little did they know that this would be the eventual outcome only a few minutes later.

So there we have it, a record breaking Grand National that still stands to this day and in my opinion will probably never be broken. With jockeys continuously improving, horses continuously improving and the safety of both jockeys and horses improving within the sport, I don’t feel like we will ever have another occasion where there is a mass pile-up or so many horses not completing the course – touch wood.

I feel as though most of my history series are short posts, but I love sharing them as I find them interesting even when there isn’t a lot to write other than the facts. Thank you for reading and I shall see you all in my next post!

An Interview with Barry Geraghty

Hi guys!

I am very excited to bring to you all today an interview with, in my opinion, one of the best jockeys I have had the honour of growing up and watching. I am very grateful to Barry for taking time out of his day to allow me to speak all things racing. Let’s get straight into it!


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

Barry: I grew up dreaming of being a jockey and of winning the English Grand National. I hoped that some day I might get the chance to win it, but I never thought it would happen as easily as it did, and I presumed I would be a lot older than 23 by the time I’d won it.

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

Barry: To me, Istabraq was the ultimate hurdler. He had so much class, jumped brilliantly and was unbelievable around Cheltenham.

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

Barry: Personally I feel with all the modifications to the whip itself make it as harmless as it is brilliant and I also believe the rule changes in recent years to both reduce the number of strikes and penalising jockeys for hitting horses out of contention are sufficient. The whip is a vital piece of equipment to help control a horse for its safety and the safety of others.

Me: What is one race you’d love to have won that you never did?

Barry: I was very fortunate to have won most of the major races in England and Ireland throughout my career. The only Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival that I didn’t win was the Supreme Novice Hurdle, so I’ll go with that.

Me: You’ve rode some incredible horses in your career such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, Bobs Worth, Monty’s Pass, Buveur D’Air and so many more… What would you say is the best horse you rode and why? And not necessarily the best, but your favourite horse to ride and why?

Barry: I was very fortunate to ride a lot of great horses over the years an I’ve never been able to split Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre. They were two amazing horses but very different. Sprinter oozed class and was always so impressive in his races but Moscow on the other hand would be an average horse by two to three lengths and beat Azertiyoup by the same, he also went four full years unbeaten. They were both a real thrill on the racecourse.

Me: What was your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?

Barry: There is no racecourse that you get the same buzz for winning whether you are a professional or punter as you get at Cheltenham.

Me: You finished your riding career as the 2nd most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival behind Ruby Walsh with 43 winners in total, out of all of those winners, what one stands out the most to you as the one you enjoyed the most?

Barry: I probably got my biggest kick out of winning the Champion Hurdle last year on Epatante for two of my biggest supporters JP McManus and Nicky Henderson. I knew going into the meeting that it was my last Festival as a jockey, so to win one of the feature races in my last year meant so much.

Me: The green and gold silks are arguably the most recognisable within racing, did you ever feel any pressure riding for JP McManus knowing people would automatically look at your horse due to the silks you were wearing?

Barry: There was always an element of pressure when riding for a big stable or owner but the pressure I always felt was more what I put myself under to get the result than external pressure from anyone else.

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

Barry: Like all field sports there is a risk of injury involved in racing, but it is in no way cruel. From the time a racehorse is born they are cared for like royalty, with the best feed, living accommodation and care any animal could wish for. That continues throughout their racing career and through their rehoming in retirement.

Me: You rode for some incredible trainers throughout your career, what was the best piece of advice you was given in general or for a specific race that you can remember?

Barry: When Nicky Henderson would give you your riding instructions at the Cheltenham Festival he would finish it with ‘have a nice time’, that is Nicky’s way of trying to take any pressure off you. It was always lovely to hear in that pressurised environment.

Me: You won Champion Jockey in Ireland twice, do you ever look back at your career and wish you had attempted to take AP McCoy’s crown and won the British Jockey Championship?

Barry: I enjoyed being Champion Jockey in Ireland on both occasions, but I was always drawn more to the chance to ride a good horse in a big race rather than chasing around the country every day of the week trying to find winners. Big days mattered more to me.

Me: If you could choose a banker for the Cheltenham Festival 2021, who would you currently choose?

Barry: Envoi Allen in the Marsh Chase.

Me: In the 12 months between 2004-2005, Kicking King went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George twice, for a young racing fan like myself who doesn’t really remember him, describe how good of a horse was he to ride?

Barry: Kicking King was very good, he was a big, strong horse with a lot of scope. He had a lot of natural pace as a three miler but also proved he stayed well when winning the Gold Cup, but for injury he could’ve won a few more.

Me: You’ve won the Grand National so you know what it takes, do you believe Tiger Roll could go on to win for a 3rd time? If not, is there any horse that has caught your eye that could take the crown?

Barry: Tiger Roll has proved how good he is around Aintree and with luck on his side there is no reason why he couldn’t return and win it again, the only problem is you need a lot of luck!

Me: In a great career, to finish as the fourth most successful British and Irish jump jockey with 1920 wins, do you look back and wish you had done anything different?

Barry: You always learn from your mistakes and that’s what makes you a better rider, so without the mistakes you won’t improve.

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

Barry: Follow your dream, give it all you can but most importantly try and enjoy it.


I want to say a huge thank you to Barry for taking time out to answer some questions and talk all things racing. I grew up watching Barry compete so it truly is an honour to have him take part in my blog and to support what I am doing and wish me luck moving forward. Hearing someone like Barry tell me how much he enjoyed answering these questions instead of regular every day questions means a lot to myself.

I absolutely loved this one, so I hope my readers enjoy it also.

I will see you all in my next post which will be Wednesday (20/01/2021) at 6pm which is a brand new interview with Harry Cobden!

An Interview with Jamie Moore

Hey guys!

Today I am thrilled to bring to you an interview with Jamie Moore. From such a huge racing family, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to Jamie about all things racing!


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

Jamie: The Grand National

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

Jamie: Red Rum

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

Jamie: I think it’s a load of rubbish. I think it’s a part of the art of riding. Whip technique is a skill and we keep it safe as the rules are very good in this country. And it doesn’t hurt the horses.

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

Jamie: Richard Johnson and Ryan Moore.

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

Jamie: The Grand National.

Me: Of course, you’re from a huge racing family, do you ever feel any pressure due to the success of the Moore name within racing?

Jamie: There’s not pressure. We all do our best and we all know how hard we try. The success is sweeter, but when it goes wrong it hurts more.

Me: On from that, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given from Ryan, Josh, Hayley or your dad Gary?

Jamie: There is no real stand out from any, but we always help each other with little things when we can. Josh is always the best for advice.

Me: How is Goshen? Personally, where would you like to see him go next?

Jamie: He’s fine. I’d like to see him go to Sandown next month.

Me: One of the best photos, in my opinion, from Cheltenham is the photo of AP McCoy leaving his ITV podium to come and console you after the incident with Goshen, what was his words of wisdom to you in that moment? How did you feel to have one of the greatest jockeys in our time to give up his time out to come and speak with you?

Jamie: He just told me to keep my chin up. I just kept telling him I’m a d*ckhead. He’s the greatest jockey ever but he is also a mate who I rode against a lot. He knew what I was going through so it was very kind of him, but that is the sort of fella he is.

Me: You seem very close with your Dad in terms of the sport, are you looking forward to a potential future within training like your dad or is that not something you have ever thought about?

Jamie: I love the training side of things and I love just plainly riding horses – whether it is racing or training and I will always be at our stables helping out.

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

Jamie: Jog on and keep your nose out. If you don’t like it then ignore it. Come and see how our horses are looked after. When you see ponies and horses chucked in muddy fields with no grass with their ears flat back in the rain – They don’t have much of a life.

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

Jamie: High Definition.

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

Jamie: Sandown is a lovely track. You can see over all of London to spectate and watch them jumping down the back straight. It’s a great race course.

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

Jamie: Be a student of whatever it may be, whether it’s sport, medicine, journalism, whatever it is. Read books and learn everything you possibly can to be the best you possible can be in your chosen field. Never stop learning. Watch the best and learn from the best.


Firstly, as always, I would like to thank Jamie for taking time out of his day to speak with me all things racing. I hope everyone enjoyed this post as much as I did speaking with Jamie and getting this post wrote up.

I will be back Wednesday (13/01/2021) at 6pm with an interview with Julie Camacho. So I shall see you all then!

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.