Riding in your first race is daunting, but don’t worry about where you are going to finish — enjoy yourself.
Get to the course early and walk it thoroughly so you know where you are going. The fence judges are a good source of knowledge and will often tell you where the best ground is.
The changing rooms are a great place to get to know the other jockeys and find out where they want to be within the race — for example who wants to make the running. It’s a good idea to tell them you are a first-timer, as they will often offer support and advice.
When positioning in a race, stay wide so you can see the fences easily and don’t have to do any wild manoeuvres. You want to give yourself plenty of time coming into a fence.
All this was running through my mind at Bangor-on-Dee, where I made my debut aboard Grand Fella (Conker) in the PPORA club members’ conditions race. Nerves hit at the start — it’s eerily quiet compared to the buzz of the paddock, and it’s a split-second decision when the starter lets you go, which creates tension.
Conker was very keen. He’s a front-runner and, unfortunately, we quickly ended up at the back, which switched him off and I pulled up after a circuit and a half.
Despite the heavy going he jumped superbly and gave me a confident first ride. Roll on the next!
Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 March 2016