Craig Nichol


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 !