Those who know me would say I am a bit “bah humbug” when it comes to Christmas. As someone who likes food in equal measure to horse racing, the festive period has always been something of an inconvenience when both loves are available in abundance.
Once upon a time — like so many young lads in racing — I harboured aspirations to be a professional jockey. Rather than studying the Radio Times in the lead-up to Christmas Day, I used to research the entries for Boxing Day and would happily skip the turkey in return for rides on 26 December.
That lasted a couple of years until the lure of pigs in blankets won out. I realised the battle between body and scales was an unequal one and daily sweating was never going to be a sustainable career.
Further education kicked in and I was content in my decision race-riding would only ever be a hobby. At the time, I thought Christmases when I had to watch what passed my lips to ride at the correct weight pointing would never come.
Alas, now I realise that natural weight gain with age is not just a myth and, this year, I once again found myself having to decline that second sausage with one eye on rides at the turn of the year.
Part of my issue is that I have a fairly inactive day job involving a desk and comfortable chair. That said, I know plenty of lads who are riding five to six lots per day and still have to watch what they eat.
Nutrition and diet are key in most sports and equestrian disciplines, but none more so than in racing, both Flat and jumps. Get this wrong and it will impinge on fitness and performance in the saddle.
I for one, am therefore not sorry Christmas is now out of the way, and hope we can all enjoy some good point-to-pointing in 2020.
Ref Horse & Hound; 9 January 2020