Image Credit: Instagram / @Mmeg_nicholls97

"I find a dress and stick my hat on! I don't really plan Royal Ascot long-term. It's a really fun meeting and it's great that we can arrange plans again and that a proper sized crowd will be back".

How would you assess your season so far?

I’ve had a slow start to the season. It’s a combination of things, the ground has turned soft fairly quickly and that means so many non runners. People that I ride out for usually have runners at four or five meetings, but that hasn’t been the case with the weather lately. I know I’m not the only one in this situation, it isn’t easy and we’ve seen a lot of people giving up riding lately.

How difficult is it being a woman in a male-dominated sport? 

It’s very competitive and difficult riding on the Flat, it’s great that we see people like Hollie (Doyle) doing a great job riding for Imad (Al Sagar, retained owner) it shows that we can perform at the top level given the opportunity and connections. It is hard to get the opportunities and you can work as hard as you like every day of the week, drive up and down the country and still end up out of pocket. I’ve been lucky to have some great opportunities with fantastic connections, but you can still be forgotten about overnight and it can take a long time to be remembered again. It’s not an easy game by any stretch.

You’re busy at the moment with riding, purchasing horses and making TV appearances. What do you think the future holds?

I won’t carry on riding forever, that’s why I want to keep working on other things and being busy. My dad has always taught me that anything can happen, god forbid I pick up an injury or I keep putting the time into riding without getting much back. I can’t sit still, I hate not being busy. If I’ve only got one ride on each of a few days in a week after driving there isn’t any money coming in. I’ve been lucky to get some contacts with Racing TV and have recently done a couple of shifts for ITV, which is a massive privilege. I’m an apprentice again in this and still have plenty to learn, but the more I do it the more I’ll improve. I’m not 100% committed to just doing TV at the moment but I’d definitely like to do more and see what opportunities come about. Riding still comes first for now but I’m trying to look at the wider picture.

You’ve got quite a big social media following and appeared on ITV/Racing TV more often in recent months. Have you noticed more negative comments/trolling as a result? How do you deal with it?

What annoys me on social media is people making comments like “she only gets that because of her dad” etc. My dad has done amazing and become champion trainer from nothing, I can’t help who my dad is. What I can help is what I do myself, I switched to be a Flat Jockey and put a lot of hard work in, I got the contacts in TV myself and if I’m talking about horses running on the Flat at Musselburgh then that’s nothing to do with Dad, he’s probably not watching or taking any interest in that, that’s not what he does! I feel like I’m in his shadow a bit, no matter what I try and do I can’t come out of it. I believe that I can and have come out of that, but that’s the only real negativity I receive that annoys me. The rest of it, I don’t really care. They’re sat sending stuff from the sofa.

You’ve really got involved in bloodstock recently, purchasing winners over jumps and on the flat. Do you see yourself going down that road more in the future? 

I love buying yearlings and three year old horses for dad, I prefer the yearlings and am a bit more interested in that side of it. I bought Kevin Ryan’s winner at Hamilton on Tuesday (26th May) called Atomic Force, my first two-year-old winner this season. It’s a tough industry to get into but it’s another that I’m keen to build contacts in and keep going with.

Working with parents would be a nightmare for a lot of people; has working with your dad changed your relationship with him?

Me and my dad are both ultra-competitive. We’re as stubborn as each other but we know there’s no point in falling out as none of us ever give in! We had an amazing time last season, Aintree topped off an incredible year with Knappers Hill. I try and find some young horses for him and it was great riding out for him plenty last winter.

We’ve seen a lot of cocaine use among jockeys in recent months, do you think riders are under too much pressure? Do they need more education or harsher punishments?

I think if someone is going to do that then they’ll do that. We know the pressure on us as jockeys obviously, but the majority of us don’t turn to it so I don’t see any excuses as to why they go down that route. Of course they need help and some riders are probably reluctant to admit that they have a problem or need support, which is obviously a shame. We saw what happened with Kieran Shoemark, he turned to help when needing it and came back better than before. We are educated about the issues and are aware of the different issues that jockeys face. I do think that the punishments probably need to be a bit harsher as there is evidently a problem in our sport and it’s a shame to see a lot of talented young riders caught up in it.

How has it been living with Kevin (Stott, jockey/partner) over lockdown and do you have a competitive household? Jockey couples (as shown with Tom and Hollie) seem to really complement each other.

We’re often in different places during the day. It’s been nice to have someone during covid and we’ve helped each other after coming back from Dubai. We started doing fitness again together and it was a lot easier having someone there. He’s a top 10 jockey now and has a rising profile, we’re at different phases of our riding careers but we support each other wherever we’re riding or whatever we’re doing.

Tell us a bit about your Royal Ascot rides and fashion routine ahead of the meeting?

I’m hoping to ride Scaramanga in one of the handicaps. He’s had a good spell over hurdles and would be a likely runner if getting in.

I find a dress and stick my hat on! I don’t really plan Royal Ascot long-term. It’s a really fun meeting and it’s great that we can arrange plans again and that a proper sized crowd will be back.



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