Getting A Feel For It

July 15th, 2016 | Marten Julian's Guest Contributor News

By Jodie Standing

Having been raised on a farm I have always had a passion for animals and creating a special bond with them. I am sure most little girls growing up on farms can recall a pet lamb they favoured and I am no exception.

Dexter for some reason became mine. He followed me everywhere, he slept on my knee, he went on car journeys and he even was my “show and tell” at school – he was my best friend. Sadly for Dexter (and me) he was male and was castrated as a baby which meant he had no use for breeding purposes. Unfortunately this meant he had to follow the natural course of farming life and was sent to slaughter, something I gladly wasn’t too clued up on at the age of five.

I will never forget my first bond with Dexter. Since that autumn afternoon I can honestly say I never have and never will eat lamb again. Because of my interest in farming I am relatively new to the racing scene. My family have always been interested in horses – my sister used to compete in various shows – and they also were part of a horse racing syndicate.

But for me, it was on my first proper racing outing to Ascot in 2007 with Marten that I realised how fascinating the sport is. Marten had been asked to join a friend in one of the boxes because he had a horse running and I was kindly asked if I wanted to tag along – of course I did.

The meeting was a successful one – the owner’s horse ran well and I won money on almost every race – beginner’s luck you may say. I believe it was more than just that.

Before each race I studied the horses, their personality, their movement, their energy – everything – and picked my horses accordingly. I think I had four winners and two seconds – not bad for a first timer. However it was not the success of gaining money that interested me the most – of course it was a bonus but it was more the trying to figure out a horse’s chances by getting inside its head that was most captivating.
To this day if I am at the races I still prefer to not look at the race card until I have seen the runners and formed an opinion on how they look that day. I do this so I am not influenced by their name, for which I will have already a preconceived idea of due to their recent form.

There was an occasion not too long ago at a Guineas meeting where I was stopped in my tracks when I caught a glimpse of a horse walking around the pre-paddock. I don’t even know what it was that first struck me. She had incredible agility in the way she walked but I think it was perhaps a combination of everything that caught my eye. From the way she moved, the way she carried herself, her mannerisms – she was the whole package.

Her name was Talent. She duly won the Pretty Polly stakes at odds of 11/1 before winning the Epsom Oaks at 20/1, confirming that what I saw in that moment was not just a fluke. Of course, I am not saying I do not look at form, but in many circumstances I look at the individual before assessing its chances according to the stats.

As my involvement with horse racing has developed over the years thanks to the work I do for Marten I have become extremely fond of the point-to-point scene and pedigrees. I do enjoy the flat season and I have a fondness for a few horses but my passion is for the National Hunt.

I love following horses who have shown exciting promise at a young age when realistically they will not be reaching their full potential until much later on in their lives. Going back to the start of this piece, I was brought up creating bonds and getting to know the personalities of animals and for me the National Hunt scene enables me to do this.

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