Month: April 2008



Commiserations to Tom Weston who had a crunching fall at the Berkeley on Saturday which knocked him out for 4 minutes and resulted in a broken collar bone.  (By coincidence, this was the same horse that knocked Claire Allen out for 5 minutes at Bangor a few weeks ago!)


This injury is sickening for Tom as not only will it rule him out of riding Caught at Dawn at Cheltenham’s Hunterchase evening meeting next week but it also rules out his plans to be Great Britain’s Fegentri representative this year.

Danny Cook has stepped into the breach and is looking forward to trips to Spain (Madrid), France (Auteuil) and Germany (Mannheim) in the next few weeks.

Danny has celebrated by winning in fine style at Wincanton this afternoon, producing his horse with a well timed run to pass AP McCoy on the run-in for his guv’nor David Pipe.



John Ciechanowski, Vice President of the Amateur Jockeys Association of Great Britain and a pioneer of amateur racing, died this morning at home in East Garston with his family close by.


Of Polish descent, John escaped his home country with the invasion of the Germans and Russians when he was 17.  Advised to escape to the East, he managed to reach Warsaw before boarding a train to Austria and Italy, eventually rejoining his parents in Paris.  During the brief campaign when Germany attacked France, John joined the Polish army and reached England, before the Polish army reformed to join the Allied attack on the Normandy beaches.


John rode for many years all over Europe, receiving the Fegentri Silver Spur in 1967 and both the Golden and Silver Spur in 1968.  He was widely travelled and fluent in several languages, having trained in Brazil and lived in Ireland (working for Vincent O’Brien) and France, before settling in England.    John was the first European to venture out to Dubai and was instrumental in the introduction of thoroughbred racing there.  In the early 1980s he was also the only trainer in Berkshire to train for a Sheikh, when he acted as private trainer to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum.


John rode out regularly for Barry Hills, Noel Chance and Mick Channon in recent years before retiring from the saddle, reluctantly, only about 18 months ago.  Fitter than most people of half his age, John rode in the charity race at Newbury in 2005 at the age of 83 and raised thousands of pounds for Spinal Injuries. 


John will always be remembered as the most modest of men, a cultured gentleman amateur rider who held strong views and was never happier than when in the saddle.  He leaves a son and a granddaughter as well as many nephews and nieces, one of his nieces following his path as an amateur rider.  He also leaves a host of friends worldwide and will be much missed.



Many congratulations to Gemma Gracey-Davison, our representative for Fegentri this year, who showed her riding skills and versatility to good effect at the weekend.  She enjoyed success at Austria’s Magna Racino all-weather track on Sunday in a thrilling finish, just hanging on by a neck from Switzerland’s Catherine Burri.  Travelling home next day from Vienna, Gemma dashed to Plumpton to partner her old friend Spider Boy over hurdles and follow up last month’s all-the-way Fontwell win in similar fashion. 

Gemma, the youngest of this year’s Fegentri lady jockeys, rode her first winner on her 18th birthday  2 years ago when she won the Dorothy Laird and enjoyed riding a winner last year in Malaysia.  Gemma is now lying joint third in the ladies Fegentri table and looks forward to trips to Belgium and Switzerland in the near future.



Wednesday 23rd April sees the finale of the Betfair Series with the likely series winner now narrowed down to 3 jockeys and only 2 of these having rides at Perth:

Mark Wall leads the table on 11 points but has no ride in the final

Nick Scholfield, fresh from his success last weekend at Ayr, currently on 10 points

and Nathan Moscrop currently on 1 point.


The Series winner will be presented with his Betfair Amateur Series 2008 Trophy along with the NH Amateur Championship Presenations when we end our NH season at Stratford on Saturday 23rd May.  Very many thanks to our new sponsors Betfair for this great series of 6 amateur races which have been so well supported by our trainers.



What a difference a day makes!  18 year old amateur Nick Scholfield partnered BORDER CASTLE to take the £100,000 Scottish Champion Hurdle on an outside ride for trainer Andy Haynes.   Allowing his mount to lead the field at the fourth-last, he stole two or three lengths on his rivals rounding the home turn before being joined two out by his guv’nor Paul Nicholl’s Takeroc and Ruby Walsh.  The pair jumped the last two flights together, but Nick was able to gallop away to the line to notch the biggest win of his career to date. 

After the race, Nick said: “He is a real gutsy horse – I hit the front a bit too soon, but when Ruby’s come to me he has gone again.”  Still reeling from a 10-day ban handed to him the previous evening at Taunton for hitting the front too soon and subsequently getting beat, Nick added: “I needed that – you learn from your mistakes, hopefully. Last night was probably the worst moment of my career. I won’t be in Mr Nicholls’s good books will I?”

Only 40 minutes later, another amateur jockey took centre stage in another outside ride when IRIS DE BALME produced an extraordinary performance to land the £190,000 Coral Scottish Grand National under Charlie Huxley.  Racing from almost two stone out of the handicap, the Sean Curran-trained Iris de Balme was almost running away with Charlie at the last as he drew away from his guv’nor Alan King’s gallant top-weight Halcon Genelardais to win by 14 lengths.Charlie said: “To be fair, the horse has jumped me into the race. I saw Choc come off the bridle (on Halcon Genelardais) and I thought it was time to kick on.  He’s a class horse, a class jumper – absolutely super.  This is the best day’s racing of my life.” 

20 year old Charlie won last year’s Bollinger Gentlemen’s Flat Series as well as another of this year’s jumping marathons, the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, and has also enjoyed success point-to-pointing in the past.  His decision to concentrate on rides under Rules this year in order to further his career is obviously paying off. Many congratulations to both lads, whose wins were at odds of 40-1 and the biggest odds in the Scottish Grand National’s history, 66-1!



The Amateur Jockeys Association are delighted to announce the 2008 Bathwick Tyres Ladies Derby Series, which has grown this year to incorporate 8 races as follows: 

SALISBURY Sunday 4th May
SALISBURY Thursday 22nd May
NEWBURY Saturday 31st May
SALISBURY Saturday 12th July
NEWBURY Saturday 16th August
SALISBURY Friday 29th August


Wednesday 1st October
NEWBURY Saturday 25th October

 The Bathwick Tyres Ladies Derby, the world’s richest amateur lady jockeys’ race, takes place on Newbury’s Ladies Day on Saturday 16th August.  The lady riders return there for the series finale on 25th October, when the series winner will be awarded what has now become the traditional prize holiday so generously donated by Wayne and Sarah Clifford of Bathwick Tyres.  

Now in its 7th year, this series gives a wonderful opportunity for amateur lady jockeys to focus on a challenge which gives the winner an enviable reward.  Jockey points are awarded after each race to the first 6 lady jockeys on a 7-5-4-3-2-1 basis.   Last year’s winner, Vicky Cartmel, worked in Florida last winter and is still looking forward to taking her prize of a holiday of her choice anywhere in the world this year.  Vicky says “I cannot believe how lucky I am to be able to make such a choice and I might even combine it with race riding in Malaysia which will be a fantastic experience, all thanks to Bathwick Tyres.”

An invitation to all members of the AJA


All members of the AJA are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting which will be held on TUESDAY 13TH MAY at Weatherbys, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire  NN8 4BX and is scheduled to start at 11.30 am.  We look forward to seeing you there.



Sarah Gaisford needs urgent help in finding a suitable temporary home near to her house in Buckfastleigh, South Devon, and hopefully YOU might be able to assist her.  She will soon be given a date when she can leave the Spinal Unit at Salisbury Hospital, but she cannot return to her own house as it is unsuitable for wheelchair access and is also on a hill.

Sarah says:  “It has been very hard trying to find somewhere new to live. Ideally, I need to rent a home with two bedrooms for about six months to give me a chance to find a suitable house to buy. It needs to be on level ground and close to my daughter Jasmine’s school in Ashburton.” Sarah has been having plenty of physiotherapy and she is looking forward to competing next week in inter-hospital games at Stoke Mandeville for people who have recently had spinal injuries. If you can help or know of anyone who can, please contact Sarah Oliver on 01886 884488.  Thank you. 



The first ladies race for the Flat season, sponsored by the Amateur Jockeys Association, has been won in fine style by Jacqueline Coward for her grandfather, legendary trainer Mick Easterby, at Doncaster on Friday 11th April.  In a strongly run race, Blue Spinnaker was given a patient ride by Jacqueline who set him alight coming to the final furlong to draw right away and score by ten lengths. 

Jacqueline now joins Lee Newnes in the Flat Championships tables for 2008, Lee having won the mixed race at Southwell the previous Friday for his father, trainer Mark Usher.   

This season sees the implementation of wins only being counted towards the Amateur Flat Championship Titles.  Points tables which include places will only be applied to sponsors’ series, these being the Gentlemen’s Bollinger Series and the Ladies’ Bathwick Series and Sawfish Software Series later in the year.