Jockey Becky Smith talks about her progress in the saddle and her role as a Hydration Ambassador for Harrogate Spring
I’m 31, and originally from Leeds. I grew up riding ponies with my sister Gemma Hogg, for a family called the Pulleins. Thanks to them our love for horses began. Gemma went to the Northern Racing College (NRC) at 16, then on to Micky Hammond’s yard. From being about six, I wanted to be Frankie Dettori! As I got a bit older and realised that that wouldn’t happen, I decided on being a Physiotherapist or PE teacher.
However, after my A Levels I went on to work in Ireland for five years with Paurick and Grainne O’Connor, which was an amazing learning experience. From there I returned home to join my sister at Micky Hammond’s yard to ride as an amateur jockey. I did my level 3 in horse care management at the NRC and after that took on the role as Head Girl – that was eight years ago.
A first double at Catterick last month
Riding a double at our local track was unbelievable for us all. There are so many people involved. My double that day was very special as the first winner was for a good friend of mine Stef Keniry who, even though she has been training a year has supported me no matter what, and given me three winners. My second winner was Justforjames, a special horse for a special team at Micky’s. Micky has been incredibly influential in my progress in my job and as a jockey, I owe him a lot. I rode my 7lb claim out on Justforjames. It’s all thanks to the trainers, the team behind the scenes and loyal owners. I’m very lucky.
Health starts with hydration
I am very grateful for my role as hydration ambassador for Harrogate Spring Water, as it is all about raising awareness of the importance of hydration. Whether it’s a jockey, another athlete, or the general public, it’s about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Good hydration helps both physical performance as well as cognitive function. Healthy hydration is key for wellbeing and success. It is just as much about positive state of mind as peak fitness. Diet is so often under the focus but hydration is often overlooked. We feel it’s about ensuring not only sports people, but adults and children, in general, understand hydration and the impact it can have on us all.
Why I love working in racing
The best thing about working in racing for me is seeing the younger members of the racing community doing well. We are like a big family and it’s so nice to see them progress, whether It be to completing their horse care levels; having their first race-ride or just improving at home in the yard. Seeing the horses running to the best of their abilities and getting them first past the post, especially when I ride them is amazing and possibly is best of all!
The worst part of the job: when we lose a horse. That’s all for me. The bad weather in the winter isn’t ideal but we work in Britain and outside so we have to be realistic…
The proudest moment of my career so far as an amateur jockey was lifting the Champion Lady Amateur trophy for the 2018 Flat season, very special. In racing, seeing my sister win Employee of the year at the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2016 was amazing, so too when she published her book ‘Stable Lass’ I was bursting with pride.
Becky’s advice for anyone looking to start their career in racing
Do it!!! Enjoy every minute of it; it’s more a hobby for me. When you love what you do it’s not a job.
And, of course, stay hydrated!