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01 June 2023

Handling half a tonne of racehorse or holding the attention of 40 excited youngsters – all in a day’s work for Page Fuller, who tells us about her racing life and future hopes.

‘Time waits for no one’ as they say, and as a jockey you are particularly aware how true this is for your career in the saddle. Sadly, a culmination of injuries over the past nine months forced my hand a little in deciding when that time would come for me.

How best to give back

It has been a bit of a whirlwind time lately, with quite a serious injury causing me to reassess my career. Unfortunately, when I managed to get myself back from a stroke, another head injury followed quite soon after. Luckily for me I had already been able to engage with the Jockeys Education and Training Scheme (JETS) while I had been off with my first injury, so when I needed to make the decision, it didn’t feel like such a shock. I still have absolutely no idea what comes next, though, I just know that I have got a lot out of the sport through my journey and I would like to give something back if I can.

A dream childhood

I think I was lucky enough to grow up in every young ‘horsey’ girl’s dream! Ponies, Pony Club, hunting until it was dark; the only difference to other riders that instead of dressage and eventing competitions, all I wanted to do was go fast!

Out hunting there was a group of us who hurtled past the other riders, probably leaving chaos in our wake. I’m sure they were delighted to see the back of us once Pony Racing began in 2004. Riding out started for me as soon as I was allowed and racing in point-to-points followed shortly. Leaving school, I never saw myself taking my riding any further than a hobby, but the way things worked led me into a career that I would never have dreamed of growing up.

I began riding out for Jamie Snowden who ended up being a constant support throughout my career and under his mentorship, and the advice of jockey coach David Crosse, and my agent Russ James, I managed to achieve far more than I expected. My first National Hunt amateur championship in 2017 was quickly followed by the second a year later, prompting the decision to turn professional and I never looked back from there. 

Partners in crime

I had some pretty special horses to share my journey: Monbeg Theatre gave me my only winner at Cheltenham racecourse and took me to the bigger racedays when it really counted for my career. Our Three Sons, Finnegans Garden and Solstalla were my joint winning-most horses with six winners a piece and Anythingforlove gave me my biggest winner in a Grade 2 at Sandown in 2021.  Each one of them were particularly special characters, even if you did have to mind Monbeg’s teeth! There were many other horses that helped me get me to the grand total of 110 career winners under rules. Our Three Sons might just pip the others in being my overall favourite though, so is enjoying his retirement with me and I’m looking forward to what our next adventure together brings. 

Perks of retirement

What has been lovely since I’ve retired, is all the people who have come forward to explain more about their role in the industry, and to show me sections of it I haven’t had a chance to see before. One of these people was John Blake from Racing to School, and he kindly asked me along to one of the Racing to School education days back in April.

I have always seen groups of schoolchildren arriving early on a race day, running around in owners’ colours but I didn’t have any idea of how much is done with them! I always thought they were just being shown around, and I had no idea they were actually having lessons around the racecourse. I was also amazed to see how engaged the classes were – I thought teaching children would be like herding cats but they were quick to get involved and answer all the questions the team asked them. I was lucky enough to have the chance to have a chat with them while they were having a biscuit break. I loved being able to tell them a little more about my journey. Speaking to a group like that, who you know may never have got the chance to go and see what racing is about otherwise, was just amazing. 

Future generations

Showing the younger generation what the sport is all about and sharing our love of it with them is more important than ever, and even if only one extra person from that group develops a passion, it adds up pretty quickly over the number of classes the Racing to School team is providing. There are difficult questions facing the industry at present but by introducing people at a young age, hopefully they’ll be quicker to see past the stereotyped culture of betting and drinking and develop a true love of the sport.

Each of us is very fortunate to be a part of this industry, and by helping people recognise this at a young age, we can make sure many future generations can also enjoy it. We also have to learn to find the audience that might not normally come across our sport, so capturing such a wide cross section at school will definitely help. Whether it’s just encouraging new race goers or perhaps future owners, and even inspiring someone to pursue a career in the sport. 

An industry that values

Throughout my career, I have come across some very generous people. What I love is how much free time and advice people are willing to give out and I think that’s really captured in the initiatives across the industry. I’ve always lived in the Lambourn area so have seen so many of the other charitable work that goes on. There’s the Injured Jockeys Fund centre at Oaksey House, HEROS charity for retired racehorses and I’ve been to many Lambourn Open Days at Easter, and more recently the National Racehorse Week, where trainers are happy to open up their doors and share their yard with the general public. All of these things and so many more capture the generosity of racing people and the passion they have to protect the sport. 

We’re so lucky to be on a journey within Racing Together and I really believe that through programmes such as Racing to School, and the other initiatives Racing Together have going on, we are doing our bit to make sure that jockeys in 50/100 years time will still be seeing schoolchildren running around racecourses before racing, learning why it’s such an amazing sport and why they want to be a part of it.

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