Author: Derek Thompson

A new ‘Newmarket record’ was set last week and it was a lady jockey who set it by lasting longest on the Equicizer! Just in case you didn’t know, an Equicizer is a mechanical horse riding simulator that many young jockeys and indeed experienced jockeys work out on. It has five speeds and can go as fast as 50mph and not only does it teach riding balance technique and general race riding ability, it’s also a very good workout machine! It was also used in the Hollywood film Seabiscuit when the star Toby Maguire looked as if he was riding Seabiscuit when in fact he was riding the Equicizer! It is very hard work to keep going on it riding hard, so much so that in the last few years since the Equicizer was introduced at the British Racing School, the longest a jockey has been able to go flat out on it was seven minutes!

That was achieved by a young Andrea Atzeni under the care of instructor Richard Perham and of course Andrea has now developed into one of the best jockeys in the world! But now that time has been beaten by a 17yo Danish apprentice called Selma Grage who lasted over ten minutes! She did it on the Equicizer at the Palace House racing museum under the tutelage of Frank Conlon who for 30 years was head lad to the late, great Sir Henry Cecil. Frank is the resident instructor at the museum and he was staggered that a girl so young could last so long riding flat out! And the experience she is gaining on the workout machine is certainly paying dividends on the racetrack because her first six rides have produced two winners and four placings.

Of course she has a long way to go to emulate someone like Frankie Dettori who I well remember as a young apprentice working out on his own Equicizer that he ‘stabled’ in his ‘lock up’ garage in Newmarket and he would work out on it night after night. All that work certainly paid off for him and I wonder if it will do the same for someone like Selma Grage? Dettori meanwhile has pledged his support for people suffering the horrific fires in Australia. Dettori is in Australia at the moment and he attended the charity Magic Millions Polo event that raises money for the victims both human and equine that have suffered so much because of the fires. I know a number of top sportsmen and women are donating some of their earnings to the cause and it’s good to know the people in horse racing are now doing their bit to help.

It was also sad to hear that once again the scheduled meeting for Jebel Ali on Friday had to be cancelled because of worries about the racing surface. I, like many people, had been looking forward to attending this very popular racetrack but I know the management team are working round the clock to try and ensure racing resumes soon! And finally... it was good to change sports on Sunday and I went to the Riverside Stadium in the north east of England to watch my home football team Middlesbrough take on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur in their FA Cup clash. And when the Boro took the lead it looked as if a big upset was on the cards but Jose Mourinho’s team equalised and it ended one all. It’s going to be difficult in the replay next week at White Hart Lane in North London but I’m quietly confident that we can still progress to the next round. Come on Boro!

Another record here in Newmarket