Author: Derek Thompson

YOU HAVE to be brave and tough to be a jockey! It’s one of the few professions where you are followed in your work by an ambulance! And on Saturday jockey Adam Wedge proved that by winning one of the biggest staying races in the UK: the Welsh National at Chepstow.

Let me say straightaway that 31yo Wedge is one of the unsung heroes of the weighing room, indeed, while other big name jockeys win the big races and grab the big race headlines, he rides about 40 winners a season. But on Saturday he hoped that his luck was about to change for he was riding the favourite Secret Reprieve in the £150,000 Welsh National.

The day started badly when his first two mounts both fell: indeed one landed on top of him, and his third mount was beaten into second. Things could only improve and they did as he brought Secret Reprieve through to take the lead in this 18 runner marathon at the second last but then bang!

It was the sound of his girth snapping and it was only the breastgirth round the horse’s neck that was keeping the saddle on. Wedge felt it go immediately and it can’t have been the nicest feeling with one to jump in the Welsh National with horses all around you! But Wedge kept his composure and his balance and somehow managed to drive his mount home!

“What Adam has done today is unbelievable,” said winning trainer and proud Welshman Evan Williams who was winning his first Welsh National and will now aim the horse at THE Grand National at Aintree in April. Daryl Jacob showed what a top jockey he is by riding a five timer at Wincanton and trainer Paul Nicholls was in ‘McFabulous’ form pulling off an incredible across the cards seven timer!

The highlight of Nichols’ Magnificent Seven was a horse called McFabulous who won the Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton in the style of a horse who is going places! And a horse called Going Places looks to be doing just that after winning under Hollie Doyle for trainer Archie Watson at Lingfield on Saturday.

Watson, who is the bright young star of the UK’s training profession, sent out Glen Shiel to win under Doyle in the Group 1 Champions Sprint at Ascot last October and looks to have another bright prospect on his hands here and will hopefully live up to his name!

It’s Baltic here in the UK at the moment with temperatures as low as minus ten with snow, frost and freezing fog all over the place and you have to feel a bit for the stable staff who have to ride out, sometimes three or four lots a day, with freezing fingers and toes! And what about the ground staff at the racecourses who are sometimes up all night harrowing the all-weather tracks in their tractors to ensure the meetings go ahead?

And that was certainly the case at Chepstow where last week incredibly the ground staff covered the whole of the track with sheets to stop the frost getting into the ground. It worked, because when they pulled back the sheets on Saturday morning the ground was not frozen and the meeting was able to go ahead!