If you thought Robbie Henderson would be scaling back his point to point riding now he has embarked on a non-equestrian career, think again. Henderson, 24, may be travelling the world selling aircraft and aircraft spares for Aero Assets Ltd, but he is more committed than ever to race riding and has been riding two lots a day for Polly Gundry and Ed Walker before he drives into the office.
He said: “ I am looking forward to the new season hugely. It is the first time I have worked outside racing – he worked for Colin Tizzard, was pupil Assistant to Alan King and worked most recently for Richard Woollacott – but ironically I have more free time at weekends than before. I just thought it was time to get a job with long-term prospects!”
“Hopefully I will ride for Polly and Ed, a few for Marie McGuiness, some for Kayley Woollacott and Pat Bryant, as well as Dad’s horse. I have some lovely horses to look forward to riding.
Henderson, had his first race ride at 17 years old while he was still at school, on board his family’s horse DUN LOCHA CASTLE. He had done a lot of riding in his youth, pony club and hunting but got bored and didn’t ride for about three years around the age of 12. But then he started riding out for Nick Mitchell and was hooked. He cites Tim Mitchell, Joe Tizzard and later Robert Thornton and Wayne Hutchinson as being influential in his riding career and owes a lot to prominent owner Guy Carstairs, who is now his boss at Aero Assets.
His family are interested in racing, dad Guy, is chairman at Wincanton Racecourse and is training a horse this season for the first time.
Henderson’s most memorable result came early in his career – on just his second ride under rules he won the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton on ELLERSLIE GEORGE, another family owned horse, trained by Nick Mitchell. “I wish now it had been later on as I would appreciate it so much more now, “ he joked.
His favourite Devon and Cornwall area courses are Flete Park “because it’s so different and fun” , Wadebridge for the same reason, and Bratton Down “if you are on a good horse and can get into a good rhythm there it’s great. There is a good atmosphere and the weather is normally okay and I was lucky enough to ride a winner at each of the meetings there last season.”
Asked who had given him the best advice he said: “ It was more something I worked out for myself. Racing is fun, not stressful. I have a great crowd of mates at the races and I have learned not to take it too seriously – and as a result I am riding much better for being relaxed.
Advice for new riders would be to work hard. “I had to work very hard as I wasn’t overly natural as a race rider. It also helps to be able to talk to owners and trainers – that goes some way to make up for deficits in the riding department. Being monosyllabic, particularly if a horse isn’t particularly great, doesn’t achieve anything.”