Sarah Gaisford rides at Exeter Racecourse

09th December 2014

Nick Scholfield Blog – Racing back to Exeter

I mentioned a while back that I had been involved in a photo shoot at Exeter Racecourse and I can now reveal the reason.

On October 9, at the racecourse’s first meeting of the new season, Sarah Gaisford will be making an emotional journey around the course on horseback. I am so full of admiration for her and can’t think what will be going through her mind as she dresses up in full racing regalia to raise money for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund at the racecourse where she was paralysed in 2007.

I was honoured to be asked and feel very proud to be in those photos. She is such an inspiring person and I really hope everyone donates £15 to the IJF and takes part in a sponsored walk on the service road while she rides on the track.

When she rides down towards the winning post, all the jockeys will be supporting her be forming a tunnel for her to walk through.

The shoot was a lot of fun and some true legends of the turf were on hand to add to the camaraderie. John Francome turned up with Graham Bradley and Steve Smith-Eccles as they were on their way to play golf at Thurlestone, Richard Pitman was his usual jolly self, Jenny Carr, who lent Sarah her horse Harvey, added a touch of glamour, and Exeter’s general manager Tim Darby was overseeing proceedings.

Despite the fun it was a poignant moment when Sarah asked to walk around the paddock on Harvey. Details of how you can support Sarah are at the bottom of the column.

Bicton Arena’s Betfair showjumpers v eventers v jockeys challenge was great fun and there was a terrific turn out of people too.

Rosie Fry, trainer Harry’s sister, was very kind to lend me her horse and I am pleased to report that he made a full recovery after my efforts in the arena.

All joking aside, he was wonderful and jumped so well. Given I haven’t ridden in a normal saddles for years and had my stirrups that long, he put up with me very well.

I was in a team with James Best, Cieran Gethings and Micheal Nolan and if you’d seen us in the warm up arena before hand you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a disaster waiting to happen. The poles were flying, horses were running out or deciding not to jump at all, and we all resembled a scruffy bunch of jockeys without out much showjumping sense at all.

But when the chips were down, we held up under pressure and in fact all gave a very good account of our selves. We made it through to the final and were beaten just six seconds by the showjumpers. The evening added another £700 to Sarah Gaisford’s efforts to raise £20,000 for the IJF.

It was a great training performance by Jeremy Scott to win the Lord Mildmay Menorial Handicap Chase at Newton Abbot last Saturday with Nortarfbad. He’d had more than 200 days off the track but everything was right and he just lasted home the 2m5f distance to run a career best. It was brilliant prize to pick up for this time of the year and hopefully he’ll go on and win another big race. It was definitely his day and it was brilliant.

You do get lucky owners in racing and the Goviers, who own him with Geoff Brown,  are definitely lucky. They have had a lot success with Melodic Rendezvous and enjoy every second of their racing. They definitely would have partied hard that night.

Unfortunately, there was a sting in the tail for me as I picked up a seven day ban for excessive use of the whip and a £400 fine.

I was shocked to hear that Harry Derham has given up as a jockey at only 19. But you have to respect his decision and honesty. He’s very grown up for his age and I am sure that what ever he does he will make a huge success of his life.

I schooled Irving at Paul Nicholls’ this week and after his summer break he’s bigger and stronger than ever. I keep telling Paul to run him against The New One so that I keep the ride, otherwise his number one, Sam Twiston-Davies will be on board!