Racing Post Interview
This interview with Micky appeared in the RP Sunday supplement on 30th August 2015.
You only get out of life what you put into it.
What’s your biggest ambition in racing?
To be successful but to balance it with a good quality of life.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
My staff said Rowan Atkinson, but I would prefer Brad Pitt.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love the smell of a good barbecue.
What’s the most overrated thing in the world?
I wouldn’t get any older.
Which person do you most admire and why?
I admire an owner of mine, Nick Rust. His first job after leaving school was marking the boards in his local Berwick bookmakers, and he has worked his way up to chief executive of the BHA. He has done all this while caring for his wife Margarita, who has been living for some time with a life-changing illness, and bringing up his son, of whom he is very proud. Nick is a very hard-working and approachable man.
What was the best day of your racing life?
Two days that stand out are winning the Scottish National as a jockey on Hardy Lad for Jumbo Wilkinson and training six winners and four seconds from 13 runners on a Saturday in February 1996.
What’s the best bet you’ve ever had?
Whan I was at school I was convinced Alverton would win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. So much so I put my entire savings on him and won enough to take my family away on holiday. It was so sad when he got killed at Aintree in the Grand National after his Gold Cup victory.
What is your earliest racing memory?
Running home from school to watch Nijinsky win the Derby under Lester Piggott in 1970.
It would have to be Sandown Park, the best dual purpose racecourse in the country.
Which current racehorse would you most like to own?
Treve. A wonderful racehorse, with paddock value.
What was the last film you saw?
Not really into films, but Minions with my children, Oliver (10) and Kierra (six).
What was the last book you read?
What was the last television series you really loved?
Poldark. My late grandmother lived in Mousehole, close to where Poldark was set.
Give us a playlist of your favourite five songs and artists
Twist And Shout (The Beatles); Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)? (Peter Sarstedt); American Pie (Don McLean); Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye featuring Kimbra); Love Is (Rod Stewart).
What was the biggest disappointment of your career?
Life is full of disappointments but you never get used to losing horses. Two weeks after running the race of his life in the Victor Chandler Chase under AP McCoy, Clay County died of colic. Heartbreaking.
What is the strangest/funniest thing you have ever seen on a racecourse?
Many years ago in a two-horse chase at Sedgefield, myself and Mark Dwyer were upsides four fences from home. Both horses fell independently. In those days you could remount, and Mark got his leg over quicker than me and went on to win!
Give us a horse, trainer and jockey to watch out for?
Just Cameron is still open to improvement and could have a good season. Callum Shepherd is well worth his 7lb on the Flat and Finian O’Toole his 10lb over jumps. On the Flat my former assistant Jedd O’Keeffe is training and placing his horses well, while over jumps my brother-in-law Neil Mulholland is going from strength to strength.
Laphroaig whiskey with a custard cream biscuit.
What’s your most unappealing habit?
I always think I’m right!
Who or what really annoys you?
People who feel a night out on the town drinking is a good enough reason to let their teammates down and not turn in for work. After a good old-fashioned verbal warning they are not often around long enough to do it again.
What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?
Thailand has it all – east meets west. However, my children love the Algarve, which makes it the best for me.
What’s your favourite restaurant/pub for a night out?
I really enjoy a night at the theatre to watch a musical with a good meal and fine wine. In and around Middleham we are spoilt for choice with good pubs and restaurants, but I’ll say The Wensleydale Heifer, West Witton, for an excellent meal, and for a drink at the bar, The Blue Lion, East Witton.
Your stable seems to be thriving this year. Are you happy with the way things are going?
Yes. We have a team of better horses, nice owners and dedicated staff all working together.
What’s the target for the rest of the year?
Our target is to continue doing well on the Flat, but also keep the good summer jumps form going into the winter season.
You clearly put an enormous amount of effort into updating your website daily. How important is it to your business?
Very! Martyn Thompson, an owner and friend of ours, works daily on it (mickyhammondracing.co.uk). I believe it is one of the best in the business and has helped attract new owners by keeping everyone up to speed.
What’s your biggest fear?
Something happening to my children.
Tell us one thing you’d like to do before you die?
I’d love to cruise the world.
What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
While in second place in the National Hunt jockeys’ table – behind Peter Scudamore, and fending off the likes of Richard Dunwoody, Chris Grant and Mark Dwyer – I had a bad fall at Sedgefield on April 22 in 1988 and sustained head injuries, broken collarbone, broken tibia and fibula. In the ambulance room, my then boss George Moore’s wife Carol said to me, “You have broken your leg, luvvy”. To date that’s the worst thing someone has said. I can’t be doing too bad.
Who’d be your four ideal dinner party guests?
David Cameron, in my opinion the best prime minister since Margaret Thatcher; Seb Coe, a great athlete and ambassador for sport; Thierry Henry, the best footballer I have ever had the pleasure of watching from the terraces, and the Duchess of Cambridge for a touch of class.
And, finally, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
A slice of toast with strawberry jam and a cup of strong Nespresso coffee.