Blog 3 – Charlotte Jones
In July 2016, I went to the NRC for my course where I had to complete all the usual theory lessons, fitness tests and ride assessments. I was dreading jumping the fences, which everyone was asked if they were fine to jump and in desperation to pass the course I said “yeah that’s fine” (obviously had never jumped a fence before) – luckily I was told the instructor could not tell, THANK GOD!! After the dramas were over, and I passed the course that week with flying colours, I headed back home to find out I’d be riding at my local track Cartmel in two weeks’ time. Once I got my licence through problems seemed to creep up, which may not seem a big deal to others, but due to the whole feminism side of me I mentioned earlier – what was I going to wear? I had never ridden in a race before so was totally not prepared, but the day concluded all well and good as I came third on a horse called Smart Ruler in the Lady Riders race for the diamond necklace.
Brian Harding, recently retired jockey, is now my coach, who is very helpful and I could not fault one bit. Since then I’ve had 7 other rides and to say the least it has been a rollercoaster of rides:
- Second ride: The saddle slipped over the wither and I was in 2nd jumping the last five hurdles sat on the neck, a disaster to say the least
- Third ride: I was in an open race and got tailed off, but nothing too dramatic
- Fourth ride: It was so foggy you could hardly see 10m in front of you
- Fifth ride: This wasn’t too bad, but I never got placed
- Sixth ride: I was in a £50,000 race at Haydock with professional jockeys such as Aidan Coleman and Derek Fox (Grand National winning Jockey) and little me. First of all, I was 3lbs too heavy, then the speakers weren’t working in the female changing room so I was late to the paddock, then I found myself cantering towards a stampede of the other horses in my race cantering towards me but thankfully, the race itself was fine
- Seventh ride: I experienced a fall
- Eighth ride: Last month two days post the fall where I finally rode a winner on a horse called Lough Kent. A day I will never forget.
It is times like these which make racing such a good industry to work in with the days we never forget; whether it is hacking through the roads with an ice cream or going to race meetings. Racing is full of thrills, days you never forget and nail biting experiences but without those we are restricted to grow as a person, accept the new challenges we face and step out of our comfort zones in order to achieve success and this is one of the reasons I wouldn’t change my job for the world right now.
Overall, it is great to be part of a small team on a close knit yard as you really get to embrace all opportunities and see everything that goes on including the whole yard going to the Grand National as this was such an achievement and thrilling for us to be taking on and competing with all the big yards. I rode Highland Lodge every day prior to the Grand National and it was an amazing experience to show off the horse you have been working with and put all hard work and effort into and it’s days like that which make the job even more worthwhile.
I hope you have enjoyed my first blog post and I apologise if it is a bit long winded as this is 16 years’ worth of introduction to cram into this short post but it is onwards and upwards from here!
Thank you, please revisit for some more updates.