Area ladies’ point to point champion in 2011 and 2012 Jo Buck is looking forward to the new season starting, and she has also taken a new direction in her career. She has become a full time student again and is studying for a podiatry degree at Plymouth University.
Buck, 31, has been riding in point to points on and off since she was 17 years old, but has been riding really successfully for the last seven or eight years. Her first ride was for Polly Curling and Kay Rees on Hilters Chance, and was certainly not memorable as she fell. They gave her great support early on and Buck has also had support from Saltash trainer Jackie Du Plessis and of course, terrific backing from Leslie and Lisa Jefford. The highlight of her career so far was winning the AJA Hunters Chase at Cheltenham on Theatre Diva for Du Plessis. Buck said: “ I had never ridden at Cheltenham before, and it was certainly memorable to win there!”
She said: “ I wouldn’t ever have had the success I have without Leslie and Lisa Jefford’s backing. “ Ironically Buck first wanted to be a vet but she said: “My grades weren’t good enough. I liked the look of racing on TV so I thought I would be a jockey! I went to the British Racing School, had a spell with Philip Hobbs on work placement and that was me hooked!”
She has been working as a driving instructor part time, and riding out for the Jeffords but thought that the time was right to sort out a long term career. She has always been fascinated by how the human body works – anyone who knows her knows she is a fitness fanatic – and it was either physiotherapy or podiatry that appealed and podiatry won.
Jo said: “ I am based in Plymouth during the week at the moment. I tried commuting but, living near Wellington meant I was adding on three hours to my day. I ride out for Jackie Du Plessis, Sam Holdsworth and Lizzie Luxton when I can and the Jeffords at the weekends. I have a long break at Christmas so will be back at the Jeffords then.”
The best advice she was given was to keep an eye on the fancied horses in a race and always be aware where they are. Her own advice to first season riders would be: “Work hard on your fitness, always be friendly and polite. You never know who you are talking to and they might become important to you later on.”
Buck will be in action on December 1 at Black Forest Lodge where she has one or two rides at the moment depending on the ground.