‘It feels a bit surreal’ – meet Jay Tabb, the footballer who now rides horses

21 June 2019 09:48
The former Coventry and Reading player is training to work in racing and has a ride at the Cheltenham Festival in his sightsIt is 9.30am and Jay Tabb is shuffling around stall No 13 inside the horseshoe-shaped stable block at the Northern Racing College, tacking up Coombe Hill, his second of four lots, before leading the 18-year-old thoroughbred out to the seven-furlong woodchip gallop. His day began more than four hours ago, as it does every morning here during a 12-week foundation course, which he has nearly completed, by getting up to go for a half-hour run in a sweat suit to ensure he meets the 11st weight limit – inclusive of skullcap, body protector and boots. Tabb, a professional footballer in his previous life, jumps on the scales in the offices to double-check. “I don’t want to not ride basically,” he says.On a sunny day in south Yorkshire, in the grounds of Rossington Hall and where peacocks roam, the 5ft 4in former Reading midfielder, who retired three years ago, explains swapping shin pads for saddle pads with a smile. The chipper instructors, former jockeys Philip Varley and Lee Swift, chivvy the students, including Tabb – whose hands are weathered and blistered from mucking out and “being keen as mustard” to sweep the yard during his first days on the programme – as he wraps tendon boots around the horse’s legs, having applied the bridle, girth and stirrups. Continue readingreadfullarticle

Source: TheGuardian