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Young jockeys training seminar

The Northern Point-to-Point Association organised a successful training seminar for aspiring young jockeys at Kelso Racecourse, targeting first season jockeys but other novice riders were welcome.

Eight young riders attended and were lucky to share the knowledge and experience of two former National Hunt jockeys, Peter Scudamore and Geordie Dun.

Peter 'Scu' Scudamore spoke first and went through the whole process of getting yourself fit to riding in a race. He began by saying: "Hunting is a great way to learn about riding across country and helped to develop natural balance and an independent seat, which are essential in race riding.

"Pony racing in recent years has also provided a stepping stone to riding in point-to-points, with Tom and Jamie Hamilton being two examples of this process in the north. You must get yourself fit by running and going to the gym – also see if you can ride out for a point-to-point yard to gain experience," added Peter.

"Regarding tack, buy the best and try it on at home before you ride in a race. Get dressed you breeches and boots and ride in your racing saddle and weight cloth – even if you feel an idiot – it is a totally different feel to riding in a hunting saddle. "

Make sure the tack is in good repair as Peter's first ride in an amateur flat race resulted in two broken stirrup leathers!

"The night before your first ride have an early night – don't be out dancing till 3am. On the day make sure you get to the course in plenty of time to walk the track paying attention to the going and how many times you need to go round – don't be riding your finish a circuit too early.

"Get changed and weigh out and hand your saddle over to the owner or trainer in good time but not too early as you will only sit in the changing tent getting greener by the minute!

"While waiting to be called into the paddock think about how your going to ride the race – jump off or sit in behind? On entering the paddock tip your cap on meeting the owners and listen to instructions. Once mounted and cantering to the start try to get your horse to relax and when showing them the first fence give them a reassuring pat on the neck," added Peter.

"When circling at the start find out from the other jockeys what their plans are and don't be intimidated by older jockeys. Once the flag falls and you're off get into a rhythm and as David Nicholson said: "Let the fence come to you." Ride positively throughout the race and make sure you have learnt how to change the reins and whip so when riding your finish you can give your horse the maximum assistance.

"After the race, if you finish in the first four, you must remember to weigh in – don't stand in the unsaddling enclosure and chat – there is plenty time for a post mortem on the race later. On returning to the changing room – savour the moment that you have just ridden in your first point-to-point – and once you have come back down to earth go and see how the horse is, thank the owners and discuss the race."

Geordie Dun, who is senior steward at several of the Northern Area point to points, reiterated Peter's advice and offered his own tips.

He suggested watching the professionals on television and cited Ruby Walsh as a role model along with Lucy Alexander, who both have a great knack of being able to get horses to jump out of a stride.

"Make sure you know the procedure at the start if there is a false start, but also not to panic if you get left at the start as there are three miles ahead of you," he said.

"The stewards are there to make sure the day runs smoothly not to pick on individuals but if you do find yourself involved in a steward's enquiry be polite and don't answer back."

Summing up he wished all the young jockeys good luck, not to be frightened to ask for advice and, most importantly, to enjoy themselves.