The Scottish Racing Academy

scotish racing academy
Scottish Racing Academy

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

The Scottish Racing Academy (SRA) is a brand-new education and training route for new and existing stable staff in Scotland. It is a collaboration between Scottish Racing, Scottish and British horseracing partners and educational institutions.

Eleanor Boden, the manager of the SRA has been involved since the beginning of planning for the new academy, “The idea of the Scottish Racing Academy was born as a result of a dinner for Sir Ian Good’s retirement, as the Chair of the Racing Foundation. After dinner, the focus changed to how the aims of the Racing Foundation could be implemented to meet the unique needs of Scotland and the North. Fast forward a few weeks to the Scottish National and a meeting with Delly Innes, Manager of Scottish Racing, the early ideas of the Scottish Racing Academy was formulated. Now, two years later, here we are as a registered charity, a full board of phenomenal trustees and two collaborative training partners.”

The Scottish Racing organisation was established in 2000 to promote and support the horseracing industry throughout Scotland and its five racecourses: Ayr, Kelso, Musselburgh, Hamilton Park and Perth. The organisation promotes all sectors of the industry and, over the past two years, the organisation has evolved from a marketing vehicle to a wider platform for representing all parts of the racing industry, north of the border. Scottish Racing were successful in their application for funding from the Racing Foundation to develop and deliver a sustainable model of education and training in Scotland. This is the Scottish Racing Academy, a charitable organisation that is separate from Scottish Racing Ltd, which aims to be of benefit to all those who operate within the racing industry in Scotland.

Horse racing is the second most popular spectator sport in Scotland and the five racecourses in Scotland enjoyed nearly 280,000 visitors in 2018 with an average of 2,600 people attending each race meeting. Also, 4% of British horses in training are Scottish and the country is ‘horse rich’ with an estimated 100,000 equines living there.

2017 was a phenomenal year for Scottish horseracing. Kinross-based Lucinda Russell trained One For Arthur to win in the Grand National and Iain Jardine trained Nakeeta to win the Ebor from his Dumfries base. This success has meant that Scottish Racing is flourishing as Eleanor explained, “I would say that Racing in Scotland is definitely growing in strength. To evidence this, racing in Scotland brought in around £9.1m in prize money throughout the 2018 fixtures. Golf’s Open Championship in 2018 paid out around £8.0m in prize money to the whole tournament in 2018, £1.1m less than the prize money for Scottish racing. Football is the most attended sport in Scotland, however, the prize money paid out in Scottish racing was almost three times the amount paid to the Scottish Premiership champions (£3.2m), and Scottish racing’s prize money was nearly double that of golf’s Scottish Open (£5.3m).”

The trustees that Eleanor mentioned are Grand National winning trainer Lucinda Russell OBE; Chair of Racing Together, Morag Gray MBE; Director of Racecourse Media Group, Jonathan Garratt; Simply Racing founder Dena Merson and Scottish council seat holder in the Racehorse Owners Association, Ken McGarrity. All have played a crucial part in getting the Scottish Racing Academy to where it is today.

The long-term aim of the Scottish Racing Academy is to create sustainable, world-class training, which will improve recruitment, skills and retention of racing staff in Scotland. Like racing in the UK, Scottish racing faces the challenge of recruiting and retaining appropriately skilled staff. Scotland lacks a ‘racing centre’ (like Newmarket or Lambourn in England) and there is a huge geographical spread of yards across the country. The training sent out by the SRA will also be beneficial to staff across the UK as they will have the opportunity to access training and education in Scotland. In terms of the wider industry, the SRA will be playing its part in attracting, developing and retaining racing staff.

To tailor to this, the SRA has been designed to be delivered in multiple sites in collaboration with established training centres Borders College and the Scottish Rural University and Colleges (SRUC). Borders College operates from three main sites (Galashiels, Hawick and St. Boswells) and is the regional college for the Scottish Borders. The SRUC is partnered with the SRA to deliver the Level 5 National Progression Award in Racehorse Care from its Oatridge campus, which stands on a 283-hectare estate in West Lothian. This site is also home to the Scottish National Equestrian Centre, a state-of-the-art venue for equestrian sports and activities. Training can also be offered in the workplace or even in schools.

The Scottish Racing Academy couldn’t have started at a more testing time but the team are still aiming to begin courses in August, “We have been working as best we can to keep the Scottish Racing Academy on track for an August start (maybe more online than envisaged) and applications have already been promising. Building on existing good practice and assets, the SRA has created a series of innovative new qualifications which have been written in consultation with trainers. These qualifications have been designed to provide choice to learners whilst nurturing talent whilst people are still at school, right through to workplace training options.”

There are multiple course options for learners, depending on their needs, as Eleanor explained, “We have a full time, National Certificate in (Race) Horse Care offered in conjunction with SRUC and we have a virtual open day coming up on the 5th June for this course. This course is particularly unique because it is the only full-time residential option that meets the rules of racing, in the UK. In addition, we have opportunities at Borders College for current stable staff to upskill in the work place as well as full time options for individuals who would like to mix their learning between classroom and work placements.” The Borders College choices are all designed to be based at home or in the workplace. The aim of all of the courses on offer is to provide individuals with the skills, knowledge and confidence to gain employment in the horseracing industry or further their careers in the sport.

For the residential course, the SRA has a wide range of horses on offer, “We have sports horses, cobs and of course the reason we all love racing, thoroughbreds. We have a few ex-racers ready for the start of the school course term however, we have not started sourcing them for the full-time course until we know more about the way the courses will run. We do have space on our website to introduce our wonderful horses, so keep an eye out for that being completed over the summer.”

Eleanor is delighted with how the SRA has been going so far, “I have been involved with this project since the initial dinner and conversation at Ayr on the Scottish Grand National day in 2018. However, I could not have even dreamed that we would have been able to make the significant progress we have in such a short period of time. This momentum is very much due to support of Scottish Racing, the input of the Scottish trainers, belief and encouragement from the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the direction from the board of fantastic Trustees.”

Horseracing in Scotland is set to return on the 15th June with Ayr holding the first meeting, meaning that life will return to some sort of normality soon! I hope that the team at the Scottish Racing Academy will be able to get the wheels into motion with this exciting, new initiative to help existing racing staff and the next generation excel in the horseracing industry.

I’d like to thank Eleanor Boden for taking time out to talk to me about the Scottish Racing Academy and I wish the team lots of success as it is a wonderful new organisation!

For more information, please visit the website here- scottishracingacademy.scot

Make sure to follow the Scottish Racing Academy on Social Media:

-Instagram = @scotishracingacademy

-Twitter = @s_r_academy

Chatting With… Oisin Murphy

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Oisin Murphy in the Qatar Racing Silks At Ascot (Joshua Myers Photography)

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Over the past few years, Oisin Murphy has rapidly become one of the biggest names in horse racing. His determination and skill in the saddle has helped him get to the very top of the sport as a winner of multiple Group Ones and of the coveted Stobart Flat Jockeys Championship.

Most jockeys aspire to be Champion Jockey and, for Oisin, it was a childhood dream that became a reality, “It was a huge relief picking up that trophy. My family were very happy and hopefully I can do it again at some stage in the future.” In order to win that trophy, Oisin rode 168 winners, over 20 more than his nearest rival, Danny Tudhope. However, despite the title, Oisin told me, “I don’t think of myself as a Champion Jockey though – I’ve only done it once.”

To me, Oisin appears to be down-to-earth and appreciative of all of the success he gets. He began riding when he was four and competed in show jumping, which he still loves doing now. His uncle Jim Culloty rode Best Mate to win three Gold Cups and Bindaree to win the Grand National and trained Lord Windermere to win the Gold Cup. Following his uncle’s career helped get him caught on the racing bug, “As a child, I watched National Hunt racing on the television and I absolutely loved it. Jim was riding at the top of his game and then, from the age of fourteen, I was riding out for Jim. He’s controlled every career decision that I’ve made, including going to Andrew Balding, Aidan O’Brien and Qatar Racing.”

In June 2013, Oisin rode his first winner on Imperial Glance at Salisbury for Andrew Balding and the horse was an easy winner, “I felt relief, joy and I looked terrible. I wasn’t that good in my style but it was good – great – to get the first winner on board.”

A few months after that first victory, Oisin Murphy won four of the races on Ayr Gold Cup Day, including the big race itself. The first leg was the Ayr Gold Cup, which he won on Highland Colori for his boss Andrew Balding. Next, he steered home Levitate to win by two and a quarter lengths and then Silver Rime won by a neck over seven furlongs. Cockney Sparrow took the last race, capping off a great day, “It was unexpected. I only had three rides going up there and everything lead to the next. I picked up the spare ride on Silver Rime. The horses were all well and it was unbelievable.”

From there, Oisin’s career kicked off. In 2014, he partnered Hot Streak to win the Temple Stakes and later became Champion Apprentice in the same year. He won the German 2000 Guineas on Kerpino in May 2015 and then won the Ebor on Ligitant in the August.

In 2016, Oisin became first jockey for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing and since then he has become somewhat synonymous with the claret and gold silks, “Sheikh Fahad has a lovely team of horses and he’s very good to me – the best boss anyone could ask for.” Their first season as a partnership was phenomenal – they managed to win ten group races with ten different horses, “It was absolutely great but it was lacking a group one winner which my job is all about.” Oisin had to wait until October 2017 for his first Group One victory as he won the Prix de la Foret at the Arc Meeting on the Martin Meade-trained Aclaim.

Shortly before this group one, Oisin partnered a horse called Roaring Lion on his second outing which resulted in a win, the roan’s second, “Roaring Lion bolted up at Kempton in September 2017. He gave me a really nice feel but he was a large, gross baby. He just improved and improved. It was impossible to know how good he was going to be at that stage.” Roaring Lion was very good. He won the Royal Lodge and came second in the Racing Post Trophy on his remaining runs at two. In his three-year-old campaign, he was third in the Craven and fifth in the 2000 Guineas. When stepped up to one mile two and a half furlongs, he won the Dante then stepped further up in trip to be third in the Derby. On his next four starts, Oisin and Roaring Lion won the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and finally the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – all Group Ones. Devastatingly, Roaring Lion passed away after suffering from colic after only covering a handful of mares. It is no secret how much Oisin and the team at Qatar Racing loved this horse, “He means the world to me – I adore him. He was a great character and a gent.”

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Oisin Murphy Before Riding Deirdre At Ascot (John Myers Photography)

Another horse Oisin has struck up a good partnership with is Japanese mare Deirdre. She spent the summer of 2019 in England and followed in Crystal Ocean on her first start in England. Oisin took over for the Nassau Stakes which she managed to win by over a length. Next time, she went to Ireland to come fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes before following in Magical, once again, in the Qipco Champion Stakes. Over the winter, Oisin partnered her in races in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. “Deirdre is really cool; she’s very masculine, tall, strong filly. She relaxes very well in her races. She just has a super temperament.”

When our attention as racing fans are on National Hunt racing in the winter, Oisin spends a lot of time in Japan and I was intrigued to know the differences between racing there and in Britain from a jockey’s point of view, “The fields tend to be a lot larger in Japan. They race on very fast ground in the Autumn and Winter time. They breed very good horses and the racing is competitive.”

Japan has been racing all through the coronavirus pandemic and Oisin believes it is safe for England to get started very soon, “I think it’s very simple – we’re ready to resume. Australia, Hong Kong and Japan never stopped. All we have to do is lead by their example.” In lockdown, Oisin has been doing “a lot of walking, cooking, riding out, mucking out for Emma, my girlfriend, who has her showjumpers” to keep himself busy.

Oisin is sure to be riding some really smart horses when racing resumes and he gave me two to pass onto you guys ready for the new flat season – “I love a colt called Tactical, he’s by Toronado. He’s doing really nicely at the minute. And a three-year-old… Enemy, he’s Muhaarar and won first time at Ascot. He’s a lovely horse.”

Oisin is an ambassador for Racing To School and getting more young people involved in racing – and equine sports as a whole – is something he is passionate about so I was keen to find out how he thought horse racing could get more young people into the sport, “Go to schools like I do and engage with young people; show them how these beautiful animals and tell them how great horse racing and show jumping and all the other sports are. Encourage them to be involved – whether that’s just watching on television or owning their pony or helping out at their local stables on the weekends.”

Horse racing is lucky to have Oisin Murphy. He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport – aspiring jockeys look up to him, the media loves him and punters trust him. To me, Oisin appears to be down-to-earth and appreciative of all of the success he gets. He is extremely determined to succeed and be as successful as possible – whether that be as Champion Jockey or winning Group One races. I’m sure he will be riding at the top of his game for a very long time to come.

Wonder Mares : Sun Chariot

Sun Chariot
Sun Chariot (sporthorse-data.com)

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

In the latest instalment of my ‘Wonder Mares’ series, I’m going to talk about Sun Chariot.

Born in 1939, Sun Chariot was bred by the National Stud. Her sire was Derby and St Leger winner Hyperion, who was the most successful British-bred sire of the entire 20th Century, and her dam was named Clarence.

This filly did all of her racing when war was raging in Europe and her successes probably acted as something of a happy distraction for her owner King George VI and his involvement was a key factor in the survival of racing through the war. She was trained by Fred Darling, six times champion trainer and multiple winner of each of the five Classics. He trained out of Beckhampton in Wiltshire, where Roger Charlton has trained from 1990. Beckhampton was Darling’s base from 1913 until his retirement in 1947, when Noel Murless, who trained another ‘Wonder Mare’ Petite Etoile, took over the property until 1952 when he moved to Warren Place.

Darling died six years later, reportedly shortly after listening to his stable jockey of sixteen years, Gordon Richards, win the Derby on Pinza for Norman Bertie. The Derby had eluded Richards for all of those years when riding for Darling. In 1940, it was expected that Richards would ride Pont L’Eveque, a descendant of ‘Wonder Mare’ Signorinetta but he chose Tant Mieux and Pont L’Eveque won. Darling and Richards became a formidable combination. However, their partnership didn’t commence when Darling wanted it to – he approached Richards in 1929 but, due to a better offer, he didn’t become his first jockey until the 1931 season. Yes, they were a partnership professionally but I found it interesting that Darling ‘had no friendships with the people who worked for him and preferred them not to have friendships with each other either!’

Despite her good breeding and maestro trainer, Sun Chariot showed such little promise before stepping her hooves onto a racecourse that she was nearly sent back to the National Stud!

However, Sun Chariot was incredible on the track. In her two-year-old campaign in 1941, she won the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, over five furlongs. Next, it seems as though Darling knew this filly was good as he decided to run her in the Middle Park Stakes against top juvenile colts Watling Street, who won the Derby, and Ujiji. She duly won easily under Harry Wragg. From what I’ve read about Harry Wragg he seems to be the Jamie Spencer of the 20th Century, holding up his horses until the last minute. He won the Derby on 33/1 outsider Felstead in 1928 by using those patient tactics. He won the 1941 Jockeys Championship after Gordon Richards was out for the majority of the season with an injury. This is probably the reason why he picked up the ride on Sun Chariot in the first place. He won thirteen Classics as a jockey and five when training, including Psidium at 66/1 in the Derby.

Sun Chariot won two other races at two but disaster struck on her first run as a three-year-old when she refused to put any effort into the race. This would go on to be the only time she was ever beaten. Darling then sent her to the 1000 Guineas despite the previous start when she displayed her difficult temperament. Gordon Richards rode her and the pair won the Fillies’ Classic without any messing about from Sun Chariot. Next, her target was the Oaks, stepping up four furlongs in trip. Despite hanging dramatically around the bend, Sun Chariot and Richards won the Oaks.

That wasn’t the end of Sun Chariot’s Classic exploits – connections decided to go for the St Leger in an attempt to win the Triple Crown. The versatility of this mare is truly outstanding. A winner of the Middle Park and Queen Mary at two, both over sprint trips, she’d just won the Oaks and was now going for the St Leger. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the ‘done thing’ to run a Middle Park/Queen Mary winning filly in the St Leger nowadays – and that’s not just because fillies can no longer run in the Middle Park!

But she won!

By winning the St Leger, Sun Chariot became the seventh winner of the Fillies Triple Crown and only two horses have taken that title since. This victory capped a brilliant season for rider Gordon Richards, who won four out of the five English Classics. He won the 2000 Guineas on Big Game, who was owned by King George VI and trained by Fred Darling – like Sun Chariot. The 1942 Derby winner was Watling Street, ridden by Harry Wragg and they followed in Sun Chariot in the St Leger.

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Sun Chariot and Big Game (Getty Images)

At stud, Sun Chariot had ten foals with two being by Big Game – Gigantic (winner of the Imperial Stakes and sire of stakes winners in New Zealand) and a filly called Game Cart. Other notable foals of hers include Pindari (winner of the king Edward VII Stakes and Great Voltigeur); Laudau (sire of multiple stakes winners in Australia) and Blue Train (who never really reached his potential due to injuries).

Sun Chariot died in 1963 but her legacy lives on in the race named after her – the Sun Chariot Stakes. Raced in early October, it is a group one for fillies and mares over one mile. In recent years, it has been won by Billesdon Brook, Laurens, Roly Poly, Alice Springs and Sky Lantern.

For any horse to win a Classic is a wonderful achievement but this quirky filly managed to win three and complete the Fillies Triple Crown. She is a credit to the talent of her trainer Fred Darling and jockey Sir Gordon Richards and wouldn’t it be great to see some more group one level horses like her running at a variety of trips during their careers!

Wonder Mares Part One – Petite Etoile

Wonder Mares Part Two – Signorinetta

Chatting With… Jason Watson

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Jason Watson with the Champion Apprentice Trophy (Credit: Press Association)

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Jason Watson has burst onto the flat racing scene in the past two years and has cemented himself as one of the top jockeys riding on the flat. In 2019, he became Roger Charlton’s first jockey, meaning he gets to ride top horses like Headman, Equilateral and Withhold for the Beckhampton Stables-based, maestro handler.

Jason’s interest in racing began aged six, “When I was young, I went to a riding school (Hamsey Riding School, in Lewes) and my instructor was ex jump jockey Ray Goldstein and his wife Sue. The stories from Ray’s life as a jockey intrigued me.”

Starting out with Ray opened up new contacts for Jason as word got around of his talents, “A few trainers came up to potentially go and work for them one day. But, my first racing job was for Gerry Enright (also an ex Jump jockey) he had a handle for of horses and I was only 13 years old or so. I started with him because one day he noticed me walking my dog pass the yard and he said “you look like a jockey” and I started going up to his on weekends to work and ride. I worked for a number of different trainers Gerry, Paddy Butler, Gary Moore and even worked for James Fanshawe’s sister but she didn’t trainer racehorses – she had Polo ponies. I left school at 13 and basically worked for all those yards for a year then stuck with just one trainer, Gary Moore. I was there until I was nearly 16. Then, I went to America for a month or so, to broaden my skills. Came back and went to work for Andrew Balding.” Andrew Balding has a reputation for being an ideal start for young apprentices and the likes of Oisin Murphy, William Buick and David Probert have learnt their trade from Kingsclere.

Jason’s first winner came in May 2017 at Salisbury, “My first winner was on a horse called “Many Dreams” for Gary Moore. It was an amazing feeling something I have never experienced before I got those butterflies… and it was even better because it was for Gary. The horse hadn’t won before and had raced 21 times so that felt even better.”

In August 2018, Jason partnered Gifted Master to win the Stewards’ Cup – a huge achievement for a young apprentice, “At the time, I was just starting to do quite well and my claim was running out fast. I hadn’t really ridden for Hugo Palmer much so it was a big deal to ride in a race like that for a big trainer. We were obviously carrying top weight in the race; I knew he was a talented horse and Hugo was hopeful. I remember his instructions “jump out let him travel where he’s happy, he normally leads but if they’re going too quick don’t force him. Go out there and have fun!” The race worked out well, I wasn’t pestered for the lead and could control the race how we wanted too. When we got headed 2 1/2 furlongs out, I was a little worried but Hugo said to me “he will keep fighting for you” so I had to bear that in mind. Gifted Master is an extremely tough horse and we wouldn’t have won that day had he not had been as tough as he is.”

This win was hugely important for his fledgling career, “That race put me on the map as one of the top apprentices around that season and, without that win, I don’t think I would have won the championship in the fashion I did.” Jason claimed top honours as the 2018 Champion Apprentice by a large margin and it meant an awful lot to him, “A lot of the top jockeys were previously champion apprentices so it was extremely important to me to take the same route. It was a great feeling.” In November 2018, Jason rode the Luca Cumani-trained God Given to a group one victory at Capannelle in Italy – an incredible achievement considering he’d started the flat season as a 7lbs claimer!

Jason emerged into the 2019 season in the role of stable jockey to Roger Charlton, “Roger isn’t just a top-class trainer but a top-class bloke. He’s a gentleman and a very well-educated man who has a lot of knowledge, very clever. I think the knowledge he has is priceless and it helps out when races don’t go to plan. He has great understanding of a race and race riding, so normally if plan A doesn’t work out and I have to change tactics, he understands why. Another thing he never seems pressured he is a very calm guy, never seems flustered. He’s very professional, and it makes you feel proud to be a part of his operation.” Roger has trained the winner of the Derby, the Irish Champion Stakes, the Prix du Jockey Club, the Prix du Cadran and the Prix de L’Abbaye (twice) as well as many more top-tier races in his career.

One of the new combination’s most notable horses from 2019 was Headman. This horse won once from two starts at two and probably needed the run when making his seasonal reappearance. Next time, the big, rangy son of Kingman managed to hold onto victory in the London Gold Cup at Newbury but the yard had bigger plans for him than class twos – he went over to Saint-Cloud and won a group two and then to Deauville for another group two, making him one of Jason’s favourite horses, “Headman is the Man😎 I’m in awe of him and yes, I do have a soft spot for him. He was impressive last year and progressed impressively, mentally at the start of the year he was very babyish and he grew up fast. Both his wins in France and his win at Newbury beforehand was impressive. He ran up against some stiff competition and things didn’t plan out in the Irish Champion Stakes. We didn’t jump well from the gates and from then on found it tough… but we were only beaten 4 lengths by Magical, who was one of the top horses in the world and had age and experience on her side that day.” If you couldn’t tell from that glowing review, Jason has high hopes for him when racing eventually starts again, “He is a beast of a thing, I am hopeful he would have improved from last year’s globe-trotting.”

I’m sure many of Jason’s colleagues would love to be in his position – as well as Headman, the exciting four year old, he has two live chances in both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas. Ladies first – Quadrilateral, a daughter of Frankel, ran in her first race on 16th August 2019. From mid-division, she manged to win by a neck. Next time, she went from last to first in a matter of strides, winning by nine lengths and earning herself a place in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket. She proved her class and battled on to win the group one contest by a head to Powerful Breeze, “Quadrilateral will always have that special place in my heart. She gave me my first domestic Group 1. I never thought it would become a reality to ride in a G1 at this stage in my career let alone win one. She gave me that and no one can take that away from me. I’ve seen her this year and she has done well from the winter. She is tough, and last year she won her races still being very inexperienced… so it’s exciting to see what she will be like with a lot more knowledge this year of her job.” This filly is one of the leading players for the 1000 Guineas, whenever it may take place, and the Charlton yard have done a phenomenal job with her thus far – three runs over the space of 56 days, culminating in a group one victory!

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Kenzai Warrior at home at Roger Teal’s Lambourn-based yard. (@RogerTealRacing on Instagram)  

Some of you may have read my interview with Roger Teal and he pin-pointed Kenzai Warrior as an exciting three year old for this season with the Guineas in mind. Jason partnered this son of American sire Karakontie, for whom he is the most notable produce so far, on his first outing, “Kenzai Warrior has something special about him. He was always quiet a calm horse especially for a 2 year old. He was professional from day one and thought he would run well first time out. I was gutted I couldn’t ride him at Newmarket (due to a ban I picked up) and again thought he would be hard to beat. My only worried was the track and if his lack of education would catch him out… he won pleasingly even though he looked raw, and that’s the best thing about him and Quadrilateral, they’ve won their races not really knowing too much about their jobs. He shows natural ability which makes great race horses.”

The Guineas would’ve already happened if it wasn’t for the Coronavirus Pandemic and we’re all waiting on tenterhooks for the return of racing, “We are happy with the way the horses have been training through this pandemic. They’ve been very patient and professional about it.” Jason gave me a couple more horses to give to you guys to look out for, “There is a 2 year old by Iffraj. He’s called Encourage and he is owned by HM The Queen. He has potential for sure. 3 year olds other than Quadrilateral would probably be Pocket Square – she improved nicely last year and signed off her season with a Group 3 win in France. She looks stronger this year.”

With exciting horses to ride like the ones I’ve mentioned, Jason is well on his way to his goal of being Champion Jockey, “I want to be champion jockey. Of course, it’s a goal and it would be nice to do it more than once. I want to ride winners in all the big races and not just in this country round the world. I would say that’s more kind of where I would like to be heading big races at big meeting globally. That’s more what I’m interested in.”

Around the world, racing has kept going throughout lockdown in Australia, Japan and America and racing in France is set to resume on May 11th but it looks as though racing in Ireland won’t be taking place until the end of June. I asked Jason his thoughts on the best course of action for British Racing to resume and he said, “I think the racing industry best chance is to come back with strict and contracted measures and to limit as much they can the amount of people allowed to go racing (meaning staff). It’s a tough one and I wouldn’t like to be in head office!”

A topic that is widely talked about and fortunately taken a backseat recently is the ‘Whip Debate’. I am always keen to know the opinion of members of the racing community’s opinion on this topic and who better to ask than a jockey? “For me it’s a hard one… the whip is an aid, a source of correction not force… which I think people find hard to understand. I don’t really know the answer but I know the whip has been around for centuries, a lot has changed since racing started; in terms of the whip. I don’t think the rules are wrong or we need to change anything in the way we use the whip. Potentially, I think it would be best to just stricken the consequences if you abuse the rules.”

One of my other go-to questions as it always gets an interesting answer is ‘What can racing do to get more young people involved in the sport?’ Jason’s reply was, “I think we really need to try and televise racing more than just once a week on Freeview it needs to be on more and we need to advertise the sport more. I would love to go in school and do talks, I wish I had someone come in when I was at school, who was a jockey. It would be great fun and it’s such an interesting almost surreal sport sometimes. It’s definitely not understood enough by the public.” I completely agree with Jason here and maybe something Racing To School and Great British Racing could think about for the future!

I’m really grateful to Jason for taking time out to talk to me about life as a jockey. With his skills in the saddle and his attitude, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before Jason is Champion Jockey and, when racing resumes, we will definitely be seeing Jason win big races on, hopefully, the horses mentioned in this article!

 

Chatting With… Nick Barratt-Atkin

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Nick Barratt-Atkin aboard Lady Kyria 

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Some of you readers may be wondering who Nick Barratt-Atkin is so let me introduce him to you.

Nick is a seventeen-year-old apprentice jockey for Catterick-based Phillip Kirby and he has lived and breathed horses all his life, “I’ve always rode ponies from being born, so it was always going to be an option to pursue a career in horses. My family have always had an involvement in horse racing from transporting, to ownership and training horses themselves, so it was always a lifestyle I was involved in!”

Like many top jockeys under both codes, for example Paul Townend and Oisin Murphy, Nick started out on the pony racing circuit, “I became involved in Pony Racing through Pony Club when aged 9. I had always been involved in other events but my main focus soon changed after giving it a go!” Nick was very successful on the pony racing circuit, winning fifty-three races altogether and he believes this experience from a young age was extremely helpful, “Pony Racing helped a huge amount when it came to becoming an apprentice, from a typical race day procedure-to race riding in itself, and it’s a great way to get a taste and insight of what it’s like to be a jockey; whether being for fun, or practice for a future career, I’d definitely recommend it!” If anyone has any interest or would like to find out more, the official website is https://www.ponyracingauthority.co.uk.

The next step in Nick’s career was to got to the British Racing School, “I was able to go to the BRS on a fast track 4 week course, which was helpful as it meant I could achieve my level 1 and 2 diploma in horse care and get straight into working in racing as a full time job for Philip Kirby. Both the NHC and BRS are great for people wanting to get into the industry as they supply courses for all ranges of horse experience for people to attend.” The British Racing School and National Horseracing College have kick-started the careers for many top jockeys like Tom Marquand, Jason Weaver, Danny Tudhope and Adrian Nicholls.

Nick’s main piece of advice to anyone looking forward to working in racing is to follow this route, “As a whole racing is always looking for staff of any role and it is a sport which is increasing in numbers all the time. If someone were to be interested in working in racing, the best process would be to go to one of the racing colleges to get a taste of what working in a real-life yard situation is like whilst learning!” Like Nick says, they are the perfect place for anyone with aspirations to work in horse racing. For more information, read my article about the BRS <here> or use these links – https://www.thenhc.co.uk and https://www.brs.org.uk.

On leaving the British Racing School, Nick joined Phillip Kirby’s yard and really enjoys the job, “Phil is a great boss and it’s a great job in itself. My favourite NH horse would have to be stable star Lady Buttons! And flat horse would be December Second who is a progressive sort and one to watch out for when flat racing resumes!” Lady Buttons has been the Kirby yard’s flagship horse for the past few seasons and she is definitely a fan-favourite. Nick rode December Second at Hamilton in July and the pairing only lost out by a neck to subsequent winner New Arrangement. The gelding seems to have a bright future under both codes as he came sixth in the Champion NH Flat Race at the Punchestown Festival and is very consistent on the flat.

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Nick riding Shine Baby Shine for boss Phillip Kirby (right)

For Nick, his first ride under rules was amazing, “Although I didn’t win or place, the feeling was surreal and it went very quick, I now find having more rides, that the races I ride in are much more slower and you have more time to process the race itself in front of you.” Last season was Nick’s first season riding and the horses have come predominately from his boss Phillip Kirby but has had nine rides for Marjorie Fife, “My target for my first season was to ride as much as possible and build up a backing from outside owners and trainers. Phil and my agent have been very supportive especially when hitting the crossbar on many occasions!” After fifty-four rides, Nick is still searching for his first winner but, judging from the ride he gave December Second and times I’ve seen him ride since, he will be in the Winner’s Enclosure very soon!

Nick looks up to James Doyle most, “I’d look up to James Doyle, because of how he manages his weight, which is no easy task especially with flat racing weights being so low and himself being 5ft 9 inches tall! Also, he admitted that he nearly gave up being a jockey and is now a retained rider for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby and established himself as one of the best jockeys in the world.”

His main piece of advice for any young person going into the industry, “As a whole, racing is always looking for staff of any role and it is a sport which is increasing in numbers all the time. If someone were to be interested in working in racing, the best process would be to go to one of the racing colleges to get a taste of what working in a real-life yard situation is like whilst learning!”

With racing set to return by end of this month, Nick’s eager to get back racing, “My target for when racing resumes is to try and maintain my weight and ride as many winners as possible!”

I’d like to thank Nick for taking time to answer my questions and I’m convinced his first winner will be very soon! Keep your eye out for Nick when racing resumes!

Chatting With… Roger Teal


By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)


Roger Teal has held a training licence since 2007 and is currently based at Windsor House Stables in Lambourn, where he has forty horses in training at peak times.


Roger’s interest in horse racing was through his mum, “I was born into it really. I was always brought up with horses and my mum trained a few point-to-pointers and then she had a permit.” His journey to training is a good example of starting at the bottom and working your way up, “I started as a lad after leaving school and then I rode as an amateur for a few years. Then, I went as an assistant trainer to Phillip Mitchell and I was assistant to Phillip for ten years – maybe fifteen, I can’t remember.” Mitchell was a very good amateur before starting training and is the father of talented jockey Jack Mitchell. Roger’s son Harry was a talented National Hunt jockey before retiring in February and now plays a big part at the yard as assistant to his father.


The Teal yard’s flagship horse of the past few seasons has been Tip Two Win. The grey son of Dark Angel made his debut in July 2017 with a win. Highlights of his two year old campaign were his second place in the Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar and when he won the Flying Scotsman, which Roger described as “a brilliant day because we really thought he had a great chance.”


Tip Two Win has been a regular runner over in Doha between English seasons and used it as a prep before the Guineas, “Doha was an opportunity that came up because we were going for the Breeders Cup at Del Mar, I think it was, when he didn’t actually make the cut. He was fit and well. Then, Adrian Beaumont from the International Racing Board flagged up this race in Doha and, because we’d had him ready to race, we thought, well, we’d give it a go as the prize money was good. He won out there and then we travelled back a month later and he won the local group two, as it was, out there”. Roger also had some good days abroad with Steele Tango, who won twice in Dubai and was a regular in France.


Tip Two Win got the yard’s name out there with a brilliant second in the 2000 Guineas behind Saxon Warrior. To even just have a runner in one of the classics was a huge deal for Roger and his team, “That was amazing. It was an amazing day – very exciting day. Obviously, he ran so well so it just put the icing on the cake.” Subsequently, the Anne Cowley-owned homebred has struggled to feature in top-tier races but he returns to the track as a five year old, “He’s back in training and we’re just waiting for racing to start. He’s working really nicely so we’re just waiting to get underway.”

Oxted at home (Roger Teal Racing on Instagram)


One of the yard’s top performers from last flat season was Oxted. He won on his second ever start in April 2019 and ran well in some decent races before winning the Portland against older rivals in good style. In terms of this season, “Plans have been put in hold really. He was ready to run and we were hoping to run him in a group three or listed at Newmarket in April but obviously that has gone by. He’ll probably now be aimed at Royal Ascot, if that goes ahead. My main target with him is the July Cup at Newmarket.” The yard has big aspirations for this horse and his full brother (Mayson x Charlotte Rosina) has recently arrived at the Teal yard but “it’ll be a few months before he’s on the track.”


Roger is a dual purpose trainer, which means that he has horses that race under both codes. Ocean Wind was one of seven horses to run under National Hunt rules in the 2019/20 Season and was the flag bearer for the yard, taking them to the Cheltenham Festival. The Godolphin-bred son of Teofilo is a half brother to peak 155-rated chaser Three Kingdoms and two black type performers on the flat. Still a full horse, he won a bumper smartly in November before coming second to Audacity in the listed bumper on New Years Day at Cheltenham. He hacked up in a listed at Newbury before running a blinder to be sixth in the Champion Bumper. “After Cheltenham, he went for a break and we’ve just got him back in last week so he’s just started light exercise now and we’ll build him up to run on the flat. We’ll give him a spin on the flat and see how he copes with that. If he takes to the flat, as I’m sure he will, he’ll have to be handicapped before we make sure plans with him. If he hasn’t really got the speed for the flat, we’ll probably school him up and go novice hurdling next year.”


When asked of a two year old for you guys to follow when racing resumes, as well as saying Oxted’s full brother, Roger told me about a horse who had just been named Gussy Mac, “We’ve got a nice two year old that’s just been named Gussy Mac – the owner named him after his Grandad. He’s working nicely so he could be one to keep an eye on.”

Kenzai Warrior On The Gallops At Home (Roger Teal Racing on Instagram)


Kenzai Warrior is an exciting three year old as he won both starts at two. He made all at Salisbury and then was a half-length winner of the Horris Hill, despite not getting a clear run. “Kenzai Warrior is our next Guineas hope. He was in the Guineas until they cancelled all the entries. His main target was the Guineas and he was also in the Derby, we’re hoping. He seems to have come on from last year and he’s very exciting for us so hopefully he can be our next big thing.” The BHA have released provisional plans for the Guineas to take place on the first weekend of June so hopefully we will see Kenzai Warrior in the race!


These plans are still not tied down to actually happening as we have to be mindful of wider problems outside of racing. Like most businesses, organisations and sports, horse racing is in limbo, waiting to get back underway. Roger’s thoughts on the best course of action are, “I think, our sport, we can run it behind closed doors. I think it would be a great morale boost for the public to have some live sport to watch. I think the country needs it, to be fair, and I think it would attract a new audience to us, as well, if we can get racing back on. Rather than people watching re-runs of FA Cups from twenty years ago and things like that, we should get some sort of racing on. They’re doing it in Australia and America and Japan and everywhere else so I think we can do it, as long as everyone is sensible, I’m sure we can do it as we run quite safely as well.”


Coronavirus is obviously the biggest issue facing the industry – and the world – at the minute but I always like posing the question “What is the biggest problem facing horse racing?” to the people I interview. Roger’s response was, “I think prize money has to be addressed. We’re supposed to have the best racing in the world but we seem to be behind all the other countries on prize money. I’d like to see that improved as it would help the owners and make racing more attractive for owning racehorses.” Prize money is often the answer which means that the authorities need to really consider this when racing is back in a stable position!


As Rein It In Racing is a website ran by young people, we always like to find out how industry professionals think we can get more young people into horse racing and Roger had an interesting take on that, “They’re putting on the concerts and everything racing and everything but, to be fair, not sure if that’s working or not because I think a lot of people are going there to watch the concerts. I think if we can jazz racing up a bit like they do with darts and do something like that with good presenters. I think it has picked up a lot in the last few years but if you just sort of make it more attractive for the youngsters to watch. I think now they’ve employed Chris Hughes off Love Island, and people like that, that is bringing the girls to watch it. With presenters like that, you can sell it more fun rather than the serious side. Obviously it has a serious side but if you can just jazz it up and market it a bit possibly.”


From speaking to Roger, you can tell how passionate he is about the sport and I’m really grateful for him taking time to speak to me. I wish him and his yard lots of luck when racing resumes and hopefully Kenzai Warrior can be a superstar!