With less than a week to go before the start of the new pointing season on 1 December, it is difficult not to get a little bit excited about what the new season might have in store. Perhaps I could end up sitting on the next Salsify or, better still, Bobs Worth?
Chances are that I won’t, but then again apparently people do win the lottery.
I will be entering my 13th season this time around and I am not shy to admit this makes me one of the elder statesmen of the changing tent but, as they say, with age comes experience. As a youthful teenager I can recall riding against wiley old foxes like Jimmy Frost, Evan Williams, Tim Vaughan, Leslie Jefford and Ashley Farrant. It is fair to say they would keep you in your place and the new-starters of today could learn a lot from such characters. However, the demographic of the modern day amateur has changed somewhat and we now operate in a semi-professional environment where a lot of riders are attached to professional yards.
As someone who plies their trade away from the world of horseracing, in my attempt to keep up with this transition, I am for the first time this season training my own pointer, in the hope of improving my fitness. “Woody”, as he has become affectionately known, arrived with me this autumn since when I have been giving him plenty of work. He feels like a surefire winner every time I jump on him and I am hoping he has put me spot on for Black Forest Lodge. The wonders of an equicizer.
Despite the changes that have occurred within pointing in recent years, from a jockey’s perspective, the fundamental principles of approaching a new season remain the same. For new and old alike, the coming days [if not done already!] will involve checking the Rider’s Qualification Certificate and Medical Record Book are in order, checking tack including saddles, girths, and stirrup leathers, checking bodily attire including helmet, back protector, breeches and boots. In addition time will be made for studying entries, speaking to trainers or owners, and planning for the all exciting first day of the season.
My advice to anyone having their first ride on Sunday is to arrive at the races early and familiarise yourself with the layout of the course. Take advice from those that have been in your position before and, most importantly, enjoy yourself. I certainly will be.