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A trip to Vegas and a Dubrovnik getaway: how jockeys spent a rare week off

Aidan Coleman, Tom Scudamore and Ian Popham recap their break

Sam Twiston-Davies and Aidan Coleman enjoyed a third trip to Vegas with Richie McLernon
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As the curtain came down on the jumps season at Sandown last Saturday jockeys across the UK took advantage of a rare week off.

Their holiday is over, however, as the new season for professional jockeys and trainers kicks off at Uttoxeter and Hexham today. So what did they get up to?

Sam Twiston-Davies, Aidan Coleman and Richie McLernon traded their saddles for sunbeds as they flew out on their bi-annual trip to Las Vegas.

Twiston-Davies and McLernon battle at Exeter

Coleman, who rode 104 winners last season, spoke of how the holiday has become a tradition for the trio since their first visit, adding that the trio aim to head out there every two years.

He said: “We know our way around there now, and we really enjoy it. It’s a nice escape from everything, completely different to anywhere else in the world."

The threesome, who had a combined 1,565 rides between them last season, wasted no time after Sandown’s finale, flying straight out to Nevada the next morning, before returning on Friday ready for the new season.

“It’s great to be able to do it," continued Coleman. "We spent our time sat by the pool and at a few tables, and popped along to some shows and nightclubs. It was a great week.”

Coleman, however, does not take such trips for granted, and stressed he is now fully focused heading into the new season.

“We appreciate the fact that riding horses has given us the opportunity to do things like this," he said. "That said, we’re now refreshed and ready to go again for the season tomorrow.”

Far from the bright lights of the Vegas strip, Tom Scudamore, who had 610 rides last season, spent his five days off in Croatia, leisurely taking in all the seaside town of Dubrovnik had to offer.

Recap Scudamore's Aintree victory with Mr Big Shot here

He said: “We spent most of our time sightseeing, swimming and that sort of thing. It was just a very nice break with my girlfriend. I hadn’t been away all season so I thought it would be nice to get some sun.

“The highlight was walking around the walls of the old town and swimming on the peninsula – not as exciting as Sam, Richie and Aidan’s holiday, but there you go!”

There was no week off, conversely, for former jockey Ian Popham, who spent the break between old season and new preparing for the next chapter of his career as a jockey's agent after hanging up his boots at the end of last month.

Popham rode 150 winners in his 12 years as a professional, before a broken and dislocated shoulder suffered in January led to him considering other options.

Ian Popham enjoyed one of the best moments of his career when Annacotty won the Paddy Power Gold Cup in 2015

Despite being new to life as an agent, the 28-year-old already has an impressive stable of jockeys, including Harry Skelton, and is keen to hit the ground running heading into the new season.

“I have not taken any time off myself as I was getting geared up for my new career as an agent and making sure I am totally on the ball,” he said.

“I am enjoying it so far and learning all the time. I want to get as many winners as I can for my team; every jockey wants to improve their numbers, otherwise they wouldn’t be in this game. Above all though, I want everyone to stay in one piece.

“It’s a long season and there’s no let up, but I’d still advise my guys to take a break – everyone needs to recharge their batteries before they go again.”

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We appreciate the fact that riding horses has given us the opportunity to do things like this
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