A DAY IN THE LIFE OF: An Apprentice Jockey

For the second instalment of our ‘Day in the Life of…’ series, we follow promising 5-lb apprentice, Leonna Mayor, during a busy mid-summer Sunday…

7.30am – The alarm goes off at 7.30 which is a relative lie in for me compared to when I get up during the week. Dress at speed and head straight out the door!

8am- Arrive at the yard where I keep my own horse, Billy. He’s a 16.2 hands Irish Draught horse and I’ve had him for two months now after missing having my own horse when I first moved down here. Feed him and grab myself a coffee whilst he has his breakfast, then turn him out in the field and change his hay, water and bedding. 

8.30am – Set off for Jamie Osborne’s yard in Old Lambourn to arrive at 8.45.

9am – Jamie’s string pulls out for the gallops and I ride a two-year-old gelding, Hardy Red. Normally Sunday would be a day off for most horses, but he’s part of the string to work as he’s due to run at Ffos Las the following day. He does a routine piece of work to prepare him for racing the next day and I then bring him in and wash him off.

10am – Finish work at the stable and then dash home to shower and get changed.

10.30am – Set off on the two-hour cross-country drive for Folkestone on my own. Stop to fill up around halfway for fuel for both my car and myself! Haven’t eaten yet today, so buy a bag of crisps and a drink to have whilst driving.

12.30pm – Arrive at Folkestone and although I get there in plenty of time and like to do this normally, I feel that I don’t need to walk the course on this occasion as I’ve ridden there quite a few times previously. I head to the weighing room and get changed into my riding gear. Hand my saddles to the valet and the caterer on-hand for the jockeys every day makes me a chicken salad wrap. 

1.20pm – Weigh out early for the first race as my boss, Alistair Lidderdale, likes to saddle up as soon as he can. I give him my saddle in the weighing room and then head back into the changing room to put the silks on and wait to be called out. Hat, whip and then out into the paddock!

1.45pm – Head out into the paddock to meet the owners along with Mr Lidderdale. The filly I’m riding, Mulberry Brite, has raced four times before but has been much too keen and has stopped quick quickly in those races. Therefore, my riding instructions are to sit quiet and get her settled out the back, fill her with plenty of confidence and then come through between horses.

2.00pm – The gates open for the opening apprentice handicap and everything goes pretty much according to plan on Mulberry Brite. We settle in behind, start moving on to challenge three furlongs out and stay on to finish seventh. Her owners are very happy when I return with the run and the fact that the filly has behaved much more calmly and professionally on this occasion. She’s entered to run again at Chepstow on Friday over a mile, which will be perfect for her. I walk back in with my saddle and hand my things back to the valet to clean in between races.

3.00pm – My second ride of the day is Beat The Bell for Jamie Osborne in the seven-furlong seller . I’ve won on him before and really expect him to go in again back at this level. However, he’s a bit of a monkey and knows exactly what you want of him, so we sit in third and end up finishing in that position, as he fails to put 100% in when push comes to shove. Can’t hide my disappointment when I come back in to debrief with the owners, as he was still on the bridle two furlongs out but failed to pick up as expected when I asked him.

After the race Mr Osborne asks whether I would be able to give him a lift back home to Lambourn, as he had come with Fergus Sweeney but he’s  down to ride in the penultimate race. This is something which is quite common and most of the time they just make calls and sleep most of the way anyway! Therefore, I wait around for his runner, Drawnfromthepast, to run in the next race and I’m pleased to say that he goes in at 25/1! He’s a horse I’ve ridden out in the past so I’m really happy for them.

3.50pm – Set off back to Lambourn and drop Mr Osborne off at the Hare pub in Lambourn, which is a popular haunt for many local trainers and jockeys.

6.30pm – Arrive back home and speedily change back into my riding gear from the morning to ride my own horse. Hopefully I’ll get to spend more time with him in the winter, when I hope to go hunting with him, but even when I can’t find time to ride him at the moment, I put him on the walker or get someone else to ride him for me. Rode him for 45 minutes this evening, then washed him down, walked him around to cool off and rugged him up.

7.45pm – Return for a very quick shower and change and it’s off out to meet my good friend and fellow jockey, Jemma Marshall, for dinner. We head to La Tasca in Newbury and enjoy some lovely food (plus dessert!), which is a nice way to round off a busy day.

10pm – Back home again and this time it’s straight to bed! Pretty tired and need to make sure I’m all set for the 5.40 start on Monday morning…