Darren Edwards: Not the best start [H&H VIP]

  • Our columnist is having a frustrating start to the season, having to wait for a scan to prove his fitness to race

    I was forced to miss my intended rides at Black Forest Lodge on Sunday.

    Having applied for a Riders Qualification Certificate [RQC] in early November, I was advised by the British Horseracing Authority [BHA] that it would not sanction my licence via the Point-to-Point Authority [PPA] on medical grounds.

    This followed what can only be described as an innocuous but breathtaking non-racing “stunt riding” mishap in June.

    Despite having been discharged in writing by the NHS the following month and playing physical sports through the autumn, I was advised by the BHA that the NHS “does not understand the mechanics of horseracing”.

    A referral back to a chest physician would be required to obtain clearance for my RQC to be granted.

    This left me with two options: go back to the NHS, whose waiting list was prohibitively long, or pay £717 for a private CT scan and appointment.

    I am now in a queue awaiting an NHS appointment, which remains some weeks away.

    Worrying trend

    With rider numbers having decreased worryingly over the past two seasons, a trend that is proving a concern for the professional ranks too, such bureaucratic irrationality will do nothing to combat that change.

    For what is already an expensive hobby to pursue for many aspiring amateurs — a full RQC for this season is £198.91 — the prospect of paying extortionate sums to satisfy the BHA begs the question, is it worth it?

    Proving my fitness

    Among intended mounts was a maiden I fancied for racing character Luke “Harry Hedgehog” Harvey.

    Luckily for me, Luke opted against risking the horse on ground that had dried out to be on the fast side of good.

    Hopefully, I will get to make amends when I finally get an opportunity to prove my fitness.

    This column was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (5 December 2013 edition)