Sarah Gaisford riding at Exeter Racecourse

12th December 2014

Nick Scholfield Blog – All roads lead to Exeter

Professional jump jockey Nick Scholfield, who is also Exeter Racecourse's ambassador, has ridden more than 400 winners during his time in the saddle and earned more than £1 million in prize money since turning professional at the age of 17

 All roads lead to Exeter Racecourse next Thursday when Sarah Gaisford will be riding a remarkable circuit of the racecourse.

I say remarkable because it takes guts and courage to get on a horse and ride at the actual racecourse where you were paralysed in order to raise money for charity.

I’ve got to know Sarah quite well over the past few months and she is just incredible. I am so much in awe of her. When something life changing happens to us, we all react in very different ways and I’ve often found myself questioning whether I would do what she’s doing and give so much back.

I really hope we make it an incredible occasion for her and that as many people as possible take part in the sponsored walk. What a great thing for Exeter Racecourse to do by giving free entry to everyone who donates £15 to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. Hat’s off to general manager Tim Darby for doing this.

I’ll be at the racecourse early so that I can walk with Sarah along with Richard Pitman, John Francome, Philip Hobbs and many other people who have pledged to join her. Sarah’s dream is to raise £20,000 for the IJF by next Thursday. Please help her do this by joining in this historic moment too.

I was suspended for seven days which dragged out to 12 days as there were four or five days without racing but it gave me a chance to ride out a lot of different places.

I am so excited because there are so many lovely horses to ride and the racing is going to be very competitive but we do need a drop of rain.  Nearly every trainer I’ve spoke to has said their horses are coming fit, and they are looking for races but they won’t race until the rain comes.

I schooled several horses at Jeremy Scott’s yard and the one that took the eye is Boogie In The Barn. I like him a lot.

I schooled six on Wednesday morning at Paul Nicholls’ including Southfield Theatre who is a nice novice chaser, and a load of new French horses.

Sam Twiston-Davies was schooling as well so we had a good bit of banter but as soon as we get going it will be different as we both get completely absorbed by the job in hand and take it very seriously. We’re professional sportsmen and paid to do a job so we need to. Paul Nicholls’ one word of advice is always concentration and it’s so true.

When I come home from a day’s racing I watch replays of my rides to see what I could do better and what I can change for next time. I’d watch each race three or four times, which is quite sad I know! I’ll also spend an hour or so every night looking through the next day’s runners.

You’ll always know how your horse prefers to run, but sometimes you have to change it as  there might be no pace in the race, or there will be two obvious front runners. You have to work out the situation before it happens. It can give you an edge in a race if you know your own horse and your opposition.

I have some nice rides at the weekend which I am looking forward to. On Saturday I’ll be at Fontwell where there is a bit of rain forecast.

My best ride would be a Ladfromhighworth for Jeremy Scott who has won his last two races. He hasn’t gone up too much in the handicap as he didn’t win by much.

I also ride a horse called Porters War who has done well this season. He always runs a good honest race and I’d be hopeful he’ll get placed.

I’m looking forward to watching the Arc De Triomphe on Sunday. It’s a wide open race and any one in the top ten could win but I’d love it if Frankie Dettori won it on Ruler of the World. He’s a class rider and I think he gets put down unnecessarily sometimes.

I did a photoshoot at Cheltenham Racecourse the other day and I had to stand next to a well known England rugby international player. They asked us to take our tops off and I was like whippet compared to him. I was trying to tense to show off a six pack and look cool and he took off his top off and had the biggest six pack you’ve ever seen which made me look scrawnier than ever. It was very funny, although it won’t be if the picture is ever published!