Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YOGAZ to 80360 or send an email»
Top tips from Tom O’Ryan...
HE is nicknamed “Neddy”, the mechanical horse where Tom O’Ryan helps young and amateur jockeys find their feet at his Ryedale home.
In his own stable, with an eight-foot mirror on the wall, Neddy has been worked pretty hard over the last few years – as talented riders have been schooled by the former professional jockey, and The Press racing tipster, in the ways of the saddle.
But he is not about to be put out to pasture yet.
Neddy will soon be more in demand than ever after O’Ryan was recently accepted onto the British Horseracing Authority’s jockeys’ coaching course.
The man who has mentored countless young racing writers, myself included, will soon turn his hand to looking after the next generation of horsemen, and O’Ryan says he can’t wait to get started.
In his self-styled “Neddy club”, the former Peter Easterby apprentice has been doing this, unofficially, for years. But, next May, he will have an official qualification and will be one of just 21 ex-riders charged with keeping apprentices on the right path.
“The first coaching session was a couple of weeks ago at Newbury with Yogi Breisner,” O’Ryan explained. “It was a classroom course with a man who is the coach of the British Olympic equestrian team.
“Among the people on my course training is ex-champion jockey Peter Scudamore, local and Cheltenham winning jockey Russ Garrity and Classic winning jockey Phillip Robinson. There are eight of us on it.
“I’ve been coaching jockeys unofficially – apprentices and amateurs – at home for the last four to five years. At the end of this, you will have a jockeys’ coaching qualification and then the BHA will allocate you apprentices.
“It’s a mentoring role. You are there on the end of the phone, you do coaching with them, you are the big brother-type of figure and I wish that was around when I was riding. It’s a fantastic thing for people.
“It’s a great initiative by the BHA and I am just pleased to be part of it. These days will be every month, right through until next May. By then, hopefully, I will be qualified. It will be interesting and it will hone what I have been doing on my own – and to see how others do it differently.
“There’s a session with a guy who is a coach of coaches. That is to get your mindset round how you might deal with different personalities that you might be coaching and it will all be interesting stuff.
“I am looking forward to doing each one. It’s something I enjoy. I get tremendous satisfaction from the young riders that have been coming to me and have been for a fair while. It’s not just about them using the equiciser. You will talk to them about riding at different tracks, what it takes to ride them, and giving them advice.
“For my mind, the riding is 75 per cent of the whole package. They have to be able to arrive neatly at the races, they have to put themselves across well to owners and to the trainer. That has to all add up to 100 per cent.
“It’s professionalism and dedication. It’s not just riding.”
But if O’Ryan gets a kick out of passing on his knowledge to young talent, it still can’t beat the thrill of riding to win. O’Ryan has once again been picked as one of the jockeys to take part in the Leger Legends race which forms a key part of the opening day of the St Leger Festival at Doncaster on Wednesday, September 12.
He will pit his wits against Classic-winning riders like Mick Kinane and the American phenomenon Julie Krone, who racked up more than 3,000 winners during her US career and took the spoils on Town Moor 12 months ago.
“I’m looking forward to it and it’s a great privilege,” O’Ryan added. “I don’t put myself in the league of some of the riders with what I’ve achieved as a jockey, but it is a wonderful thrill to go down memory lane again.
“I still get a great thrill out of riding out every day, get a great thrill particularly out of riding a nice horse in a bit of work. That never leaves you. This is just taking it to another step and that race has lifted the first day at Doncaster. To be part of it is fantastic.
“The aim is to win. The competitive spirit never leaves you and it will be a big kick on the day. I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.”
O’Ryan has raised more than £1,500 for the race, which is raising funds for the Northern Racing College.
To boost his total even further, log on to http://www.justgiving.com/Tom-O-39-Ryan