Q&A with Kevin Parsons (NASS)

National Association of Stable Staff or NASS for short, have recently won a bid from Union Learn Funding which will provide for a Union Learn Project Manager, who will based in Newmarket at the New Astley Club. They have recently appointed Kevin Parsons who started with NASS on the 8 November; Kevin has provided a short biography which outlines his history in racing and his plans for the Newmarket Learning and Community Project.

So having met with Union Learn who are funding the project last week, NASS are hoping to roll out courses with the help of local college’s and tutors starting in The New Astley Club, Newmarket in January. The main objective is to increase the workforce’s current skills and qualifications and to give them an opportunity to do so in areas they choose.

Then hopefully with success NASS will be able to progress nationally working on the same ideas in Lambourn, Epsom, Middleham, Malton, South West and The Midlands. This will give everyone involved in Racing all around the country a chance to enrol on the courses and help make this a success for all participants.

As with the sport side of things Kevin is looking to organise a National Football Cup competition between racing regions (as used to be in place years ago).  As well look to organise a National Go Karting competition starting off in each region then to a grand final somewhere central to everyone.  Another idea is to do something similar with paintballing.

Another task for Kevin is to get the Cricket day that used to be hosted once a year in Arundel going again as this is another sport event that has not been continued for the last few years and was always a fun day for those involved.

All in all the whole idea of the project is to re-engage stable staff with a community feel and to give them a chance in extra learning and taking part in events. At the same time adding members to our union that works and provides for them.

[frame_center src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/kevo.png” href=”#”]Kevin Parsons with the Newmarket Ladies Team.[/frame_center]

Kevin Parsons – Biography

Kevin has been involved part time in racing since catching the bug at 14 and then started working full time in racing as when he left school aged 16.

Kevin has spent the last 18 years enjoying working with horses and held positions ranging from apprentice; conditional jockey; work rider; stable lad, head lad and travelling head lad. He has been lucky enough to travel all around the world including Europe and Dubai and worked with many good horses. In his time in racing he has worked for some excellent trainers like; Roger Charlton, David Loder, John Gosden, Chris Wall and Roger Varian.

[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/kev.png” href=”#”]Kevin Parsons[/frame_right]

During his 18 year career in racing, Kevin has always been involved with organising football games including Roger Charlton’s vs.  Peter Chapple-Hyam’s , Newmarket vs. Lambourn, North vs. South and most recently the NASS national team.

He began at the British Racing School (course 90)1996 and has completed up to his NVQ Level 3 in Horse and Stable Management as well as FA Level 2 Coaching Badges and FA youth module 1. So he is now looking to combine all his experience and skills working with NASS in giving the people in racing something back.

Kevin will be looking to organise more sporting events, as well as putting on local course’s to offer IT courses along with core subjects such as maths,  English and any other course’s that may be of interest to people within the local community. They plan to hold a survey using a page on the NASS website which will be dedicated to sports events, to find out more about ‘what the people want’ as well as talking and interacting with racing staff to find out their interests and then looking to build events and courses around those.

Q&A with Kevin Parsons

Having filled various positions within racing over the last 18 years, what made you finally make the decision to take up a more active role within the racing community and go from being a general stable employee to your current role for NASS?

[quote]KP: Well firstly it was offered to me by NASS Chief Executive George McGrath whilst the bid for the funding was in motion. After we sat down and had a chat about what the job was to entail and what they were looking for, I went away to think about it and if I was the right man for the job. Firstly knowing it was going to be a massive change in career as all I have known since leaving school was early starts and horses, and having to be dedicated to a job that can be hard at times especially in the winter. But this is a job I have to have a good crack at for myself, the stable staff and racing as a whole, even though I will miss the day to day banter and riding out in the summer I feel if I can make a difference in this new role it will all be worthwhile.[/quote]

So NASS stands for National Association of Stable Staff, tell us more about what they do etc?

[quote]KP: NASS is the union for stable staff and was formed in the early seventies as the SLA (Stable Lads Association) unfortunately though it went through a dismal period in the early 2000’s and a regeneration took place, and this newly named organisation was formed in 2007 and renamed by a member to its current name. With its newly elected Chief Executive George McGrath who was voted in and started his role in August this year the whole Union is looking to expand, with 18,000 people in racing we need to have more than the current third of staff signed up. NASS meets with the National Trainers Federation every year to discuss wage and expense rises as well as improvement in working conditions. They also legally represent any member who needs representation in a dismissal case or with any grievances at work. So to be a member is free and only beneficial and we need to get more people on board.[/quote]

As Project Manager for NASS what does your job entail on a day to day basis?

[quote]KP: At the minute it’s lots of organising and planning, interacting with tutors, organising to work with the British Racing School and Northern Racing College and trying to establish links. As well this I’m helping to design and set up the IT Suite in the New Astley Club. Its all very new to me though so learning as I go, whilst hoping to get numbers on the first courses to get the ball rolling.[/quote]

What do you think people within the racing community can achieve by taking part in courses provided by NASS?

[quote]KP: They can achieve qualifications which will enable them to progress from racing into other careers (if they so choose), not that we want to lose anyone from the industry but a more skilled work staff is better for our industry overall. Knowing they can learn and get qualifications to do other things will be good for the racing staff, and it will keep people more interested in their jobs whilst learning new things in their spare time.[/quote]

What are you most excited about introducing to the racing community over the coming months?

[quote]KP: Mainly the chance to add to their qualifications with new ones and even qualifications they never thought about trying. We are looking to put on courses to cover a wide range of activities, be it from IT Skills to Cooking or Gardening to Basket Weaving, basically whatever the racing staff want we will look to provide. Being sporty myself the National Go Karting Championship we are planning for next year will be great fun for members, and will help boost staff morale and be a great way to bring the community closer together![/quote]

If somebody would like to find out more information on the courses provided by NASS, where would be their best place to go?

[quote]KP: The NASS website which is currently being updated and modernised but the old website still remains available at www.naoss.co.uk this will eventually have a section for all this info on as well as the sporting events coming up and being planned. Otherwise NASS has a page on Facebook or ringing the office on 01283 211522.[/quote]

Anything else you would like people to know about?

[quote]KP: Well mainly that joining NASS is completely free and they work for you the racing staff! All these events and courses we are planning are to get more people involved in activities out of work time and to give them something else to do, aim for and hopefully achieve! Each event and course will be for members and you can sign up on the day, so at the same time as providing these activities NASS will also be gaining the union members and helping us to grow and become much stronger and more influential  in the national industry.[/quote]

 

Doing nothing this weekend and local to Newmarket? Get yourself down to the match and show your support!

[frame_center src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/nass.png” href=”#”][/frame_center]

Cheltenham Preview Evening – Tuesday 6th March

Coral Cheltenham Preview Night; Loose Cannon Club, London; Tuesday 6th March

Tonight was my first “preview night” of any kind and it was an enjoyable night that’s for sure, for this “invite only” occasion. A panel of four were the main players in discussion. These were Nick Luck (NL), Channel 4 Racing and RacingUK presenter; Simon Clare (SC), Head of PR at Coral; Mark “The Couch” Winstanley (MH), from the Racing Post and Paddy Brennan (PB), who arrived late after returning from riding at Exeter. All 27 races were discussed, albeit some briefly and I’ll go through them in chronological order, as the panel also did bar the exception of the Gold Cup, which was left until last.

Tuesday

Supreme Novices Hurdle

The Supreme Novices Hurdle opened the discussion, with MW vehemently opposed to Galileo’s Choice, mainly due to the poor record of Dermot Weld at the Festival alongside that he believed that Weld was merely using Cheltenham as a “schooling session for Galway”. MW advised giving this race a miss altogether. SC commented on the shortening price of Darlan, possibly due to owner JP McManus claiming it was his NAP of the Festival. SC also put in good mentions for Tetlami from the same Nicky Henderson yard, along with Galileo’s Choice, which provided the first of many short and lively debates with MW regarding Dermot Weld. At a bigger price, NL suggested the Charlie Longsdon trained Vulcanite as a nice each-way wager, his belief being that his run last time at Newbury was disappointing due to incorrect jockey tactics. PB supported NL’s views regarding Vulcanite, and was very complimentary regarding work he’d done on the horse at home, using the word “unbelievable”.

Arkle Trophy

The Arkle contains the highly touted Sprinter Sacre and all four of the panel agreed that he’s going to be very difficult to beat. SC suggested that on-course layers will be very tempted to get stuck in to this favourite and evens on-course might not be a complete fantasy, a view corroborated by his colleague in the audience, James Knight. MW sternly rubbished suggestions that Sprinter Sacre would fail to get up the Cheltenham hill, and quickly went on to say that Ruby Walsh for top jockey was his NAP of the festival, along with Blackstairmountain in the w/o favourite market in the Arkle not being a bad shout. Both NL and PB also agreed that barring accidents Sprinter Sacre could be very difficult to beat.

JLT Handicap Chase

MW threw up a few horses in this race, including The Package who has been off for a long while but has been well-supported. Penny Max too as a NRNB play, especially if the ground comes up soft [was pulled out at Ascot as ground said too fast a couple of weeks ago]. MW also put in a good word for Tullamore Dew, who was just touched off at that Ascot meeting and he wouldn’t put anyone off backing Quantitativeeasing, NL stating that he needed to get in the first 4 to get a place for the National. NL further added a good mention of Lie Forrit, a favourite of a colleague of his and he believed he was a similar kind of horse to that of Chief Dan George, and Lie Forrit would prove to be well-handicapped over fences. SC provided a trend that winners tended to be rated 143 or less, and thus he thought Tullamore Dew might go well. SC also had reservations regarding current favourite Hold On Julio, as Wayne Hutchinson had concerns regarding the horse’s jumping.

Champion Hurdle

This was another race where the race seemingly revolves around one horse, that being in this instance Hurricane Fly. In this case, the panel wasn’t unanimous in their support for the Willie Mullins trained horse. NL suggested Binocular as being a “great each-way price” at 5/1 and a “danger to all” if his form of his win in this race two years ago. SC was less impressed with Binocular, stating him as “unexciting” and suggesting that a possible betting plan of action would be to wait for the day regarding backing Hurricane Fly, as it is likely that the bookmakers may try to get after him on-course. PB thought Hurricane Fly would win barring accidents, whilst MW was similarly impressed, especially after his last win at Leopardstown. Other bets suggested in this race was that by SC of Oscars Well and a place bet on Overturn, whilst MW also liked the chance of Rock on Ruby in the w/o favourite market, alongside a tricast including Hurricane Fly, Rock on Ruby and Thousand Stars.

Cross Country Chase

This race was mentioned only very briefly, with PB quickly quashing any suggestion he’d want to ride in this race. SC mentioned that Richard Johson believed that Balthazar King was his best chance at the Festival in this race. My feelings of that horse would be that he’d need fairly quick ground to play a part in the finish, which with the current forecast isn’t that likely.

David Nicholson Mares Hurdle

Another race where the market revolves around one horse, that being Quevega. PB will likely ride Terre Du Vent but claimed Quevega to be a certainty. SC suggested the only horse that could beat Quevega would be Unaccompanied (bringing about another short debate regarding the Cheltenham Festival record of Dermot Weld) but the market vibes were suggesting she wouldn’t line up. MW put up Kentford Grey Lady, a progressive horse who he claimed was given a poor ride by Jack Doyle last time, as a place bet, but that Quevega would win.

Centerary

SC and MW both mentioned the gamble on Triolo D’Arlene, who allegedly was tipped by Nicky Henderson himself as his NAP of the Festival, and there were reports of said horse working like a 150 rated animal. SC also found the Irish trained Slieveardagh interesting, whilst MW also threw the Tony Martin trained Nearest The Pin into the mix, who he’d received a positive report for. NL liked Shot From The Hip, whom he felt was well-handicapped on his form over timber and at 10/1, had slipped under the radar. PB suggested Ackertac, who had finished behind Triolo D’Arlene at Ascot earlier this year, as having been “set-up” for this contest by his old boss Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Wednesday

NH Chase

MW suggested Allee Garde as being one of his best bets of the festival, feeling it should be a much shorter price than it currently is. SC commented on the market support for Harry the Viking, along with the low-profile campaign over fences of Oscar Dan Dan also being of interest. SC also liked Teaforthree as he would stay the trip solidly. NL felt that Alfie Spinner was Nick Williams’ best chance of a winner at the Festival and that he should go well upped in trip.

Neptune Investments Hurdle

MW was of the view that Boston Bob would win any race he goes for, but market signals were suggesting that BB was going to go elsewhere, and that the 5/2 on Simonsig at the time was a fantastic NRNB investment. It was also stated Irish P2P rider Derek O’Connor at another Cheltenham Preview night, had suggested that Simonsig was “banker material” having his experience with the horse in the past, NL adding that he’s bred for the trip and it will likely turn out to be his best distance and that the race itself would be fairly thin if Boston Bob didn’t show.

RSA Chase

Will Grand Crus turn up here or in the Gold Cup? SC suggested the market vibes were pointing to the latter. If lining up in this race though, it’s probable that the bookmakers will again want to take on the favourite anyway and SC stated Bobs Worth as having an obvious chance, fitting the stats nicely. He also added that the huge gamble in Sire Des Champs meant there was very little value in the price currently. MW disagreed entirely, stating Sir Des Champs to be an “aeroplane” and having an excellent chance, shown especially by how far he’d come from the rear last time out, later going on to give it as his charity bet. MW felt that Grand Crus should be given a crack at the Gold Cup.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

MW brought up the poor record of older horses in this contest, leading him to have sided with Finian’s Rainbow as an each-way wager, although apart from the age stat, he found it difficult to knock the chances of Sizing Europe. NL was keener on the chances of Finian’s Rainbow than MW, while also questioning why Henrietta Knight doesn’t give a chance to Somersby in this race. SC agreed, saying he’d run Somersby as it was a pretty poor race in truth, especially with the likes of Big Zeb towards the front of the market, who he felt was regressing badly from top level competition. He felt though that Evens or better about Sizing Europe was worth a bet. MW also added a possible match bet in this contest, that Finians Rainbow would beat Big Zeb.

Coral Cup

SC quoted a stat that no horse higher than 147 had won the event, which would rule out some of the big players in the market. He however, gave no specific advice about what to back, suggesting you should follow the money on the day of the race. MW would have liked Our Father if lining up, but he goes elsewhere and he gave a small mention to Third Intention after an impressive success in the Spirit Hurdle.

Fred Winter

PB claimed he’d have no ride in this contest, and stated that Vendor would be difficult to beat in any case. Vendor was the topic of much the discussion on this race, with reports of the Alan King horse working well alongside much higher rated animals in Balder Succes. Wayne Hutchinson claimed he couldn’t be beaten off a mark of 129, but SC hasten to add that the Fred Winter often has many well-handicapped animals involved that could go off at big prices. MW believed that Vendor could be a difficult ride and that might find him out at Cheltenham, even comparing him to the frustrating Olofi. MW put up Fire Fighter as an alternative to Vendor, especially as Alan King had an excellent trio of runners in this race last year and you shouldn’t be put off by any second-fiddle jockey bookings, although he was concerned with said horse’s jumping last time out. MW also suggested Musawama from Gordon Elliott’s yard, who’d appreciate the likely ground being out of Azamour and he won’t have been seen to the best of his ability running on softer surfaces.

Champion Bumper

SC said the market was wide open, but had heard reports that Fickle Fortune was “very special”, a comment also corroborated by MW. MW thought market principle Moscow Mannon wasn’t a very likely winner, putting up a suggestion in the John Ferguson trained New Years Eve as the best of the English horses. Both NL and PB liked Royal Guardsman after his Ascot win, and the former suggested he thinks this race will go to a British trained runner. A couple of audience members (including Twitter member “kingofbumpers”) suggested Cool George as their fancy, although PB thought that he wouldn’t be running.

Thursday

Jewson Chase

Peddlers Cross was confirmed for this race only a couple of days ago and all four of the panel weren’t too keen on his chances, PB being concerned with his jumping and his movement when last seen at Kempton, while SC was also worried with “why” they had decided the switch so late, did they just believe that Sprinter Sacre couldn’t be beaten? Coral’s were likely going to lay top price about Peddlers, with both PB and SC, liking the chances of Champion Court. MW liked Cristal Bonus, although he was unsure to how strong the Kempton race actually was, while putting good mentions in for Call the Police (ew) if the rain arrived. Taking a similar view to that of Coral, MW stated Peddlers Cross as his lay of the meeting.

Pertempts Hurdle

PB was adamant throughout that Sivola De Sivola had an excellent chance in this race, especially with the NRNB concession now in place as there are doubts to whether he’ll get in. From what you could see, he felt this horse had a huge shout and that this horse was a “serious talent” after an eye-catching run last time. MW thought Our Father had an excellent chance also, as he believed he’d go for this race and that Sweet My Lord also had claims. SC spoke about their being a big move for Jetson, but he obviously wasn’t too worried as he offered a special price of 10/1 on the night.

Ryanair Chase

PB liked Noble Prince in this race, and wasn’t really convinced by Riverside Theatre. SC thought otherwise, liking Riverside Theatre, especially with Medermit possibly going elsewhere. Great Endeavour was another where a fair case could be made, with MW not sure whether he could handle it at the top level. MW wasn’t particularly involved in this race, stating it was a hard one to call but if he had to, he’d go Noble Prince.

World Hurdle

Big Bucks is unbeatable according to the current odds but MW thought there was a chance he could be turned over, putting up Dynaste in opposition at 14/1, further adding that Big Bucks is getting on a bit now and sometime soon, bad luck in-running will fall his way. Dynaste was stated by MW as a decent trading proposition in-play, especially as he consistently trades much shorter. PB thought Oscar Whisky would stay the 3 mile trip, but still wouldn’t have enough to beat Big Bucks, although he was glad Oscar Whisky lined up as it added another plausible rival to the favourite. SC thought similar, suggesting Big Bucks should be 1/4, and his colleague in the audience James Knight suggesting 1/5 would be a more apt price.

Byrne Group Plate

PB had been reliably told that Salut Flo had worked very well on a racecourse gallop at Exeter recently, but obviously didn’t want to say who he had heard it from (it wasn’t Conor O’Farrel). MW jokingly suggested that they’d been working in the dark, possibly even “in Guernsey”. MW went on to say that he’d love Hunt Ball to win, especially as he enjoyed Anthony Knott as a character in racing, adding that he felt Crackaway Jack and Divers were possibly worthy of investment. SC also thought Divers was worth a bet, especially with AP McCoy on board. SC also said that Notus De La Tour would likely show in this contest, as one of his co-workers had a share in the horse and this was the target.

Kim Muir

MW thought Up The Beat was capable of running a big race, with NL thinking that Midnight Appeal was still under the radar after it’s win at Sandown. PB thought this was a weak race and Faasel was at least reliable. He also felt that Helpston was overpriced, merely due to the fact that it was Pam Sly training, rather than a big-name. SC reported the market as pretty quiet, and that he’d heard that Faasel was working well at home.

Friday

Triumph Hurdle

MW thought that Grumeti was bombproof before the scare today regarding his lameness, although it’s fully expected he’ll be fine for the Festival itself. He also liked Shadow Catcher, as his jockey had gone too soon last time out and he was expecting a better run. PB rides Baby Mix, who’s been brilliant but with one big blip. He needs good ground but the impression is that he’s still a serious horse, but Grumeti still stands as the one to beat. SC thought that punters shouldn’t get too adventurous with bigger priced selections, as those at the forefront of the market have a good record. NL went against this, feeling that Hollow Tree was too big a price, his defeat last time being excused as he went off too quick last time.

County Hurdle

MW thought an Imperial Cup/County Hurdle double for Ted Spread wasn’t impossible and thought the current price for the County Hurdle wasn’t a bad price NRNB. He also found the money for Snap Tie interesting, especially given the amount of time he’s been off the track. NL thought Citizenship “has a stone in hand”, whilst PB “wouldn’t swap Olofi” for any horse in the race, which created a debate regarding how genuine Olofi was. PB felt he was just a bit quirky, similar to Pigeon Island and that he felt he knew the right way to ride him. SC confirmed that Coral had laid loads for Snap Tie, but didn’t seem too concerned.

Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle

SC said the vibes were that this would be where Boston Bob would run, and that they’d been an interesting move for Mount Benbulben. Lovecen was seen to be a “really likeable type”, but still,the market was suggesting that Boston Bob would go off a short-price. MW thought that the 9/4 was worth taking now, and that sort of price would be one of the best bets of the festival. PB further stated his fondness of Sivola De Sivola, suggesting if he didn’t get in the Pertempts then he’d go here, feeling that wherever he went, he had the ability to run to a level of around a mark of 145.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

SC stated that Long Run had been eased out to 7/4, especially with plenty of negative vibes about and the fact that no-one was backing. Kauto Star had “rolled” today, which was a positive. PB wasn’t keen on the chances of Kauto Star at all, feeling (as a Gold Cup winning jockey) that preparation had to go perfectly for you to have a chance of winning the contest, and after Kauto’s fall (which he’d heard had been “awful”). He felt Long Run was a certainty barring accidents, and just hopes that Kauto Star returns from the race safe. MW also couldn’t have Kauto Star at all, “if he can’t win at 11, how can he at 12?” He thought Grand Crus was the best horse in the race, although PB disagreed and thought it would come too soon in his career. A chance was also given to Weird Al due to his impressive record when fresh, but NL and PB both thought Weird Al lacked resolution in a battle, which wouldn’t stand him in good stead for the race. Further questions by the audience led to What A Friend being mentioned as a possible each-way alternative, especially now Burton Port’s value had pretty much disappeared, and the likes of Quel Espirit being “an awful price”.

Foxhunters Chase

Both MW and PB both agreed that ex-handicappers such as Chapoturgeon who had raced at a high level shouldn’t be allowed to run here, as it should be a race for the smaller yards to compete in. NL and SC both liked Salsify.

Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle

PB had the impression that there may be up to 10 runners from David Pipe, one put forward by SC being that of Street Entertainer. MW thought that the Bourne/Smad Place form-line was a good one, and he expected both to be fighting it out near the finish. NL ended the discussion on this race by saying that none of them really had a clue. PB hoped that Sivola De Sivola wouldn’t line up in this race (he obviously can’t ride him in this one).

Grand Annual

SC felt Toubab had a good chance here, but MW disagreed completely, saying that he wouldn’t get up the hill. He put forward Kumbeshwar instead. NL reiterated his belief that Shot From The Hip had a chance in whatever race he showed up in, also giving a fair chance to Ferdy Murphy’s De Boitron. PB confirmed this, saying he had spoke to Ferdy Murphy and had felt that De Boitron was his best chance of the entire Festival, and especially with the likes of Divers also running during the week, was a fairly strong comment to make.

Panel Charity Bets

Simon Clare – Champion Court in the Jewson

Paddy Brennan – Sivola De Sivola in Pertempts Hurdle

Nick Luck – Cristal Bonus in the Jewson

Mark Winstanley – Sire Des Champs in the RSA

 

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience for someone who hadn’t been to a Festival Preview night before, and would recommend attending to anyone in the near future, especially if you have a particular strong fancy for the Festival, as it’s entirely possible that a bookmaker may give you a better price on that night. One of the biggest impressions looking to the Festival was how excited Paddy Brennan was regarding Sivola De Sivola’s chances. He looked gutted when it was even mentioned that he might not ride him if he missed the cut on his first two planned engagements and if there was one horse to take from the night, it would be that. The unanimous opposition to Peddlers Cross was also interesting, along with the repeated assertion that bookmakers are likely going to try and take on the short price favourites in Big Bucks, Hurricane Fly etc on the day. It’s an obvious point to remember that these are just the opinions of four people in the racing industry, and shouldn’t be seen as the “be all and end all”, but it provides an interesting discussion nonetheless, and I hope the above has been of use to you in some regard, or merely just an interesting read!

Finally, could I thank Coral for their invitation, along with “Best Brit Bloggers (http://www.bestbritishbloggers.co.uk) for setting me up to attend! Thanks guys.

Q&A with James Millman

Welcome to the first of our Q&A sessions with racing personnel, and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Our first Q&A sees us interview James Millman who has kindly agreed to do this for us (many thanks James!).

James in action…

James is about to venture into his seventh year as a professional jockey, and rode in his first race as an amateur on Paso Doble at Lingfield in November 2003, and continued in the amateur sphere until February 2005.

James rode his first winner at Chepstow aboard Polar Dawn in July 2005 and went on to ride six winners that year.

Shortly after that he joined trainer Clive Cox for a six month spell and didn’t really get the opportunities from Clive that he needed, but his career took off with a switch to Dean Ivory in May 2006. In his first full season James rode 15 winners from 224 rides, with those rides coming from 39 different trainers, giving James valuable experience at tracks all over the country.

Unfortunately for James, his weight was always going to be an issue and he returned back to his father Rod’s yard in March 2007 to combine his riding career with a role as Assistant Trainer to his father. Although the majority of his rides are now for his father, it helps them get their best out of their horses, getting to know the very ins and outs of their horses on both a day to day basis in the mornings and out there on the track.

James rode out his claim in October and has ridden 97 winners in total; hopefully it won’t be long before he reaches the milestone century of winners!

Being a professional jockey for 7 years now, what horse would you say has given you the best moments in the saddle and why?
JM: Definitely riding Roi De Vitesse as a two-year-old in 2009. He didn’t have a lot of class but was extremely tough and ran consistently well in the top races, his second in the Superlative was gutting but also my career highlight so far and we also finished third in a Listed race at Cork, fourth in a Listed event at Deauville. Despite coming last of the seven runners, it was a great experience to ride him in a Group 1 on Arc day and he wasn’t far behind Dick Turpin, Beethoven, Lope de Vega, Pounced etc. so it was a really good run and an amazing experience to ride against Europe’s top jockeys.

If you could pinpoint any positive turning points in your career to date, what would they be and why?
JM: Probably leaving Clive Cox’s yard and moving to Dean Ivory’s as he let me ride most of his horses when I worked for him, riding five winners from over eighty rides just for him. It increased my confidence no end which helped me improve my riding and I had 224 rides that season, yet twelve months earlier had nearly quit riding. Unfortunately I struggled with my weight and decided to return as assistant to Dad but luckily, most of the owners have being really helpful in letting me ride the top weights and I’m very pleased to finally lose my claim, which certainly helps with the dieting!

Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot?
JM: As a spectacle it has to be the Cheltenham Festival and would love to have a ride in the bumper (rode in the fillies’ equivalent at Aintree) but professionally would love to ride a winner at Royal Ascot.

Group race wins are every jockey’s dream, which group winner would you like to have won on, and why?
JM: Obviously Sergeant Cecil as he is the iconic horse of the stable, and gave us our first Group 1 win in the Prix Du Cadran on Arc day but I don’t think the owner would have ever let that happen!

Emma Ramsden or Hayley Turner (lookswise)?
JM: Hayley Turner

If you could have had an alternative career outside the saddle, what would it be and why?
JM: In dreamland it would be a Formula 1 driver, used to race Karts from 10-17 but didn’t have the funds or enough talent to go into motorsport so switched to horses but now can afford to go motor racing some weekends, just at a lower level! Realistically it would be a sports journalist.

Which racing journalist do you feel is the most courteous and respectful?
JM: To be fair I get on with all the racing journalists at the moment, especially those on Twitter! When I started had a few that were over critical, bearing in mind I had limited experience but on the whole get on well with those that I speak to.

Milkshake or Turner?
JM: Difficult as have to ride against them both – equally as good!

If you could give us a horse to keep an eye out for next year, who would it be?
JM: Definitely Galatian, I think he could be our next star. A huge gelding that has been lightly raced as has needed time to fill out his frame but won his last two races at Leicester and Goodwood and is still just rated 77. His half-brother Masai Moon is trained by us and he reached a mark of 95 and I feel he has a lot more scope than him. His other half-brother Tangerine Trees went from 69 to 103 when winning a Listed race at Newmarket as a 5yo last season so he’s one I’m really looking forward to.

What is your favourite track and why?
JM: Probably Salisbury as it’s a nice friendly track that owners like to have runners at. However, hard to get winners there as it’s very competitive with all the top trainers but most importantly, it’s only 90 miles from home!

Dubai or Wolverhampton?
JM: Are you serious? Definitely Dubai spent Jan-Apr 2008 looking after the Fitri-Hay horses including Traffic Guard, Lizard Island and Yellowstone. Had a great time and will hopefully be taking some of our horses out there in the future.

If you could pick one horse out of your stable to have a successful winter on the All-Weather, who would it be?
JM: Irish Jugger was a $220,000 yearling that we picked up for £4,500 last year. Had a few problems but finally rewarded a lot of hard work when winning a 0-55 at Wolverhampton. Unlucky the last twice for various reasons and I still feel he’s well handicapped off 59. However, weather has being making things hard as he’s a horse that needs routine, something that we’re struggling to achieve at the minute. Of the others Mustajed has taken over Whitbarrow’s role of stable veteran and should be very competitive in sellers at the age of ten.

What happens on the all weather at Lingfield and Kempton? 3 from 80 at Lingfield, 8 from 95 at Kemtpon but 13 from 75 at Southwell. Do you find the Southwell fibresand easier to ride than these tracks or is it the horses?
JM: As our horses are trained on a woodchip gallop, a deep surface quite similar to fibresand, they are generally very effective at Southwell if handling the kickback. However, most horses trained in Newmarket or Lambourn are trained on a polytrack surface so they are at an advantage when racing on that surface compared to our horses. Southwell is probably the fairest track, best horse will win but on the polytrack, you can get a lot of hard luck stories so I certainly prefer riding round Southwell. Also our owners prefer to run their horses on the grass so the AW string is normally of a lower level and is unlikely to be as successful as is normally the case.

Your biggest wins have been on various 100 rated, listed class types. Horses like Masai Moon, El Bosque, Whitbarrow, Phantom Whisper, and Light From Mars, Shavansky and the unlucky Roi De Vitesse.
If you could pick one out to have as a 2yo again, which one would it be and why?
JM: Of those, for various reasons Roi De Vitesse was the only one that I actually rode as a 2yo and nearly gave me my biggest win when second in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. Of the others, my old favourite Whitbarrow would be the one, as he won the Woodcote on Derby Day and also the Molecomb at Glorious Goodwood; he was one speedy two-year-old. He was still pretty quick when I started riding him at seven and we managed to get seven wins out of him before he was retired at the age of eleven.

Do you plan to take over the reins from your father Rod when the time comes?
JM: Have done two of my three training modules so the ambition is to train but I’m not sure whether to go it alone or take over from Dad (don’t know if he’ll ever give up!). Ideally I’d like to train 25 horses and be able to do most of it myself but that isn’t really commercially viable. However, with current prize money so poor, I’ll definitely consider starting up in France or the US, if things don’t get much better in the UK.

One last question, do you have any updates on Sherman McCoy who was looking a promising stayer but failed to see the racecourse again in 2010 after his 3rd to Martyr at Newmarket?
JM: Same owners as Roi De Vitesse, you couldn’t ask for a tougher horse and has yet to be out of the first four in his eleven starts in Handicap Company. Was being campaigned with the Ebor in mind but unfortunately suffered a broken pelvis when cast (stuck) in his box. Has had six months off and aim to bring him back in March, you’re never sure if he can return to his best but his great attitude will give him every chance.

We here at OHRacing would like to express our thanks to James who has taken time out (albeit on a snowy period) to answer all of our questions, and has been an absolute gentleman throughout.

James is a very good bloke, and can be contacted on Twitter @JRMILLMAN, add him to your ‘Follow’ list now, you never know what gems you’ll pick up from him over the winter.