Becky Smith Racing Post Feature
This feature about our head girl and amateur jockey Becky Smith appeared in the Racing Post Classified section on 12th November 2015.
A day in the life of an amateur jockey
Amateur jockeys do not ride as a profession and tend to ride in races restricted to other amateurs. However, depending on the category of amateur rider permit they apply for, they can also apply for a ‘Category B’ licence that allows amateurs to ride against professional jockeys in certain races.
Amateur riding is a good way to kickstart your career as a jockey and this route has been taken in the past by some top jockeys including Ryan Moore and Richard Johnson.
Becky Smith is an amateur jockey for Micky Hammond in Middleham and talks about a day in the life of an amateur jockey….
I was riding in Ireland and Micky Hammond kindly asked me if I would like to work a summer for him as his amateur jockey. I accepted and have been here for the last four years.
What attracted you to the job?
There are plenty of opportunities for amateurs in the UK with a large Flat and jumps calendar. Micky is renowned for giving jockeys plenty of opportunities and he is a gentleman to work for.
We all start at 5.45am, muck out five horses then exercise between three and four horses. We make sure the horses are groomed and comfortable before lunch then return at 3.30pm until 5pm for evening stables, unless away racing.
What is your favourite part of the job?
You can’t beat riding a winner for the yard you work for, for your boss, lads and girls working so hard behind the scenes. I also really enjoy schooling mornings.
Nothing! Apart from the weather in the winter! On a cold dark wet morning it’s not as enjoyable as the summer when it is warm and light. Micky also says “I should pay you double in the winter and in the summer, you should pay me!”
What is the career progression in your role?
For me, as I am an amateur, it is about riding every horse as well as I can and coming home knowing that if I win or lose I have done the best I can. A lot of amateurs progress into being conditionals or apprentices but for me it’s all about improving myself and learning from the senior riders. One day I would like to win the championship.
What advice would you give to someone considering a similar role?
You have to be as professional about the job as the professional jockeys in every aspect and it’s very hard work, full-time hours with riding races on top of it. Do it for love, enjoyment, learning and self-satisfaction.
Becky Smith going to the start for an amateur contest