5 April 2016
My latest ‘PIGEON RACING’ interview sees me chat with Craig Nichol, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, which has become a regular breeding ground recently for many rising stars of the weighing room. Craig currently leads the conditional jockeys championship title chase and speaks about his career so far, ambitions and even how he would like to improve racing !
You can FOLLOW Craig on TWITTER @craignichol94
Date and Place of Birth
19 February 1994. Borders General Hospital, Melrose
Who inspired you into racing and when did you first realise you wanted to be a jockey
My dad Grahame who rode as a conditional for John Leadbetter, and I had a pony from a young age and was always a big racing fan
What age did you first ride
I was about 6 months old ha ha they start them young up here. But first time I remembered I was about 6 riding at the local common
So where are you based currently and who do you ride out for
I am freelance and live in Hawick. I ride out for a few different trainers. Keith Dalgleish, Nicky Richards, Rose Dobbin, Alistair Whillans and Micky Hammond
Lanarkshire trainer Keith Dalgleish
So the best of the best trainers up there…hence you are going well for the conditional title. How many winners now and what’s your lead
Yeah I’m lucky enough to be in with the best trainers up in the north of England and Scotland. I’ve had 33 winners this season and I am 9 winners clear
First ride & first winner
First ride was 21 August 2012 at Perth on a horse called VALLANI for Lucinda Russell and it was also my first winner !
Who are your jockey idols
Wilson Renwick, who is also a Hawick man. I grew up with him being the top jockey to come out of Hawick and have idolised him from a young age. He has also given me a lot of help and support throughout my career
Who gives you your best advice and what if any was the best advice given
Best advice would be my dad before I left home. He told me you only get out of the game what you put into it so give it everything you got
Biggest or most satisfying/memorable winner
JONNIESOFA at Haydock Park in the Albert Bartlett Trial (aka Prestige). He was my first graded winner and he is a real nice horse for the future
You were on him when I made my debut visit to Kelso in November
Yes that was his first win over hurdles and I’ve since won on him at Newcastle as well as the Haydock win
Favourite horse that you’ve ridden + one you’d love to ride
Probably would have to be JONNIESOFA. He is a natural jumper and best thing about him he is as hard as nails. I would love to ride FAUGHEEN
Favourite racecourse and why ?
I would have to say CARLISLE. It’s not too far from home and has a lovely chase track and the jockeys canteen is pretty good too !
Least favourite or unlucky racecourse
I have been to FAKENHAM only once and don’t fancy a trip back. It’s some racetrack that…it was like a rollercoaster haha !
What are your strengths and weaknesses
Strength would be that I am willing to work hard and also willing to learn. Weakness is that I need to learn to keep my head through bad times and take defeat a bit better
What time do you get up in the morning
I have to be up at 6 most mornings sometimes earlier or later depending on where I am riding out
What’s worst part of the job
Worst part of the job would have to be light weights and a lot of driving hours
What hobbies or sports do you like away from racing
Last year I took up golf and I love it and even though I think I’m improving I’m sure the green keepers disagree. I’m also a massive American football fan and would love to venture over to America to watch the Green Bay Packers
Food and Drink
I would love to say something healthy being a jockey, but my fav food would have to be a lasagne & chips with a pint followed by sticky toffee pudding
Yum – proper jockey diet that Craig ! Good job i assume you don’t have the dreaded weight problems ?
Yeah that’s it. I’m lucky enough to not be too bad. I have to watch it for some of the bottom weights though
TV and Film
Favourite film got to be Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights
Big fan of Mumford & Sons and also Eminem
Which course would you like to ride a winner at this year
Would love at any point to ride a winner at Cheltenham if it is this year next year or in the next 20 years!
If you were put in charge of racing for one day what changes would you make ?
I would organise racing a bit better. Me being a northern based jockey it’s annoying when we go four days without racing, then two meetings come up on the same day and that forces us to miss rides and sometimes winners
Do you have any rides at Aintree over the three days or will you be mopping up the winners at Newcastle/Sedgefield
I would imagine I will be at Newcastle Friday and will wait and see if I can pick one up at Aintree for the conditional jockeys race on Saturday
What are your ambitions for 2016
To finish champion conditional would be great because it is my last chance to do it
Finally, can you give readers a horse to follow for 2016 maybe Scottish National Meeting or summer jumping
A horse of Nicky Richards called Caius Marcius he has good bumper form and will be a better horse on better ground
Big thanks to Craig for his time and very best of luck to him on securing the conditional jockey title which would be well deserved. I hope you enjoyed our chat !