A Christmas Update

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A Christmas Update

Kieran Schofield gives as an update on life in the yard and at the racecourse.

Well the driving test is booked and hopefully I’ll be able to make my own way to the races after Christmas – I owe a lot of people lifts and they will be looking to cash in!

In general, I do prefer travelling with other people, it’s at least a couple of hours from my Malton base to most of the all-weather courses so it’s nice to have company rather than being alone.  If a day hasn’t gone well then you might want to keep to yourself a bit but usually having others around can pick you up and stop you dwelling on the day – tomorrow’s another day.  On the other hand, if you have had a good day it’s great to be able to share that with friends.

There are some days though when I need to make my own way, either due to race times or locations so having the flexibility to do that will make life much easier.

It’s also good to travel with someone in case we have a fall or pick up any injuries, it means that you can get home (provided you haven’t needed to go to hospital).  We all look out for each other and the camaraderie is a part of the sport that I really enjoy.

Sharing lifts means that you don’t have drive everyday which is often cited as the worst part of the job.  Not driving means you have time to study form, watch previous races and catch up on some sleep, particularly in the busy summer months, not to mention the benefit to the environment.

Life in the yard is a busy as ever.  All the yearlings have been backed and ridden away and they are now having a little break.  They will come in again after Christmas and start being prepared for their racing careers.  Officially they all turn two on New Years Day and I’m looking forward to getting them to the track.

We have been busy with the jump horses, I do enjoy riding them although they are quite different to the flat horses.  Stable star Definitly Red ran a great race at Aintree recently under a very heavy weight to finish fourth.  He also won the Yorkshire Horse of the Year Award at the Go Racing In Yorkshire Annual Awards, which is a great accomplishment for the owners Mr and Mrs Martin and the boss.

I was also at the awards to be presented with my prize for winning the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Series again.  It’s great to be able to celebrate the racing achievements in Yorkshire and there was a real buzz in the room as we looked back on the year and were reminded of everything that has happened over the past 12 months.

The apprentice series is supported by local company White Rose Saddlery.  Fortunately the shop is based very close to the yard so I didn’t have to go far to get my new bits of kit.  I’ve got two new pairs of breeches for race riding, one normal pair and some waterproof ones which will get plenty of use over the coming months!

We’ve all had to get new breeches in the Weighing Room as they all had Stobart branding on the back.  Unfortunately their sponsorship has come to an end which means we can no longer carry their name.  Although as jockeys we didn’t receive direct financial benefit from Stobart, their sponsorship covered the collective premium to cover a career-ending insurance policy, which means that anyone who had to give up riding due to an injury would receive a financial sum, based on the number of rides and wins they achieved.

Stobart have had a long association with racing and it has been a privilege to wear their branding and know that if the worst happened there was some security, but things change and we have to adapt.  Hopefully a new brand will take up this opportunity but the sponsorship market is very competitive which makes me grateful to have the support of Go Racing In Yorkshire again.

I am also going to be getting a pair of riding breeches and all will have the Go Racing In Yorkshire logo on them, so if you see me riding out or at the races I should be fairly identifiable by these!

I will be getting my new heavier saddle soon too.  This will weigh about six pounds and means I don’t have to carry as much lead when I’m doing heavier weights.  Putting lead in the weight cloth means I can carry the correct weight for the race, however using a heavier saddle and less weight means I can carry less lead so it’s not such a dead weight for the horse.

Whilst I was at White Rose Saddlery, Wendy got me to do some modelling of a new brand that she has got in stock called Jobea, so look out for me appearing on her website!

I’ll be working this Christmas.  We work either Christmas or New Year so I’m on evening stables on Christmas Eve and back in on Christmas Day morning and evening.  It will be quieter than other days, probably like working a Sunday so mainly feeding, mucking out and checking over all the horses.  We don’t have any runners on Boxing Day so it’s unlikely anything will need riding, then I’ve got New Year’s Eve off.

We had our Christmas party last week at the Golf Club.  It was a great evening and it’s really nice to get together with everyone away from work.  I have to admit I was first onto the dance floor but fortunately it wasn’t long before the others came to join me so I wasn’t on my own for too long!

On Christmas Day my parents will probably come and visit us for a few hours in between work.  My girlfriend Keely has bought loads of presents for our lurcher Nell, she will be spoilt this Christmas and I certainly know my place!

Looking forward to 2020 I hope to keep building on my career.  I will be looking for as many rides and as many winners as possible to keep moving forwards.  Although I’m no longer an apprentice I still have my claim which will be useful to the boss and other trainers who I ride for.

Apprentices have been a hot topic in the media recently with changes in their pay structure on the horizon from March next year.  Brian has always been very fair to me and paid me a full wage, even if I was racing or riding out elsewhere, however trainers do need an incentive to give apprentices rides.  It seems to be an issue for the bigger yards, but at the end of the day I suppose it will be up to the trainers and owners if they want to use apprentices.  Harry Russell is currently our apprentice and I hope he has a good year in 2020 as success reflects on everyone involved in the yard.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone.  I look forward to seeing you on a racecourse, hopefully in Yorkshire, sometime next year!