I have touched previously upon the concerning decline in rider numbers within point-to-pointing. But one of the effects of a smaller pool of jockeys was never more evident than over the recent bank holiday weekend.
As a jockey, I like to be busy and have plenty of rides. I therefore liaise with my connections as far in advance as possible to ensure my rides are spread accordingly, horses are placed to run at courses that suit and, most importantly, where they have the best opportunity of winning.
This keeps the owner, trainer and me happy. It is inevitable, however, that there are some weekends when meetings and or rides clash. The May Bank Holiday, with its busy schedule of fixtures, was a prime example.
Choosing one horse over another is sometimes easy. You factor in recent form, well-being, the ground, the course, and it makes for an obvious choice. It is also sometimes hard and there can be extenuating circumstances behind a choice.
The call to let someone know you are choosing someone else’s horse over their own is one of the most difficult to make. While it is never meant to cause offence, sadly sometimes people do take it personally and it can test relationships. I can certainly appreciate why our professional counterparts have agents to make those calls.
I was saddened to hear of the death last week of owner Brian Kilpatrick. I was lucky enough to ride a few winners for Mr Kilpatrick, who was a truly gracious man. He really understood the importance of giving his horses — many of which he bred — a proper education.
He did this primarily in the English and Irish pointing fields and, while most commonly associated with Sabin Du Loir, his more recent Festival winner An Accordion — who won three points before being sent under Rules — is perhaps a more fitting tribute to Mr Kilpatrick’s approach.
This article was first published in the 15 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine