With racing planned to resume on 1st June, we wanted to find out what it has been like for an Apprentice jockey during the lockdown. In our latest Palace House blog, our Digital Marketing Officer Robin, spoke to the Racing Excellence Apprentice Hands and Heels All-Weather champion and All-Weather Championship Apprentice Jockey runner-up, Grace McEntee.


What was your last ride and can you remember it?

It’s been that long I can’t really remember but I believe it was at Chelmsford

Grace had her last ride on 12th March and finished 2nd aboard Bernie’s Boy, trained by her father Phil McEntee

You were runner up in the All-Weather Apprentice Championship series that was cut short, how did you feel about this?

It was a privilege to be able to finish second in the All-Weather Championships as it was a target at the start of the All-Weather season to try and finish in the top three. Therefore, to finish second I was very pleased. Obviously it was cut short due to Coronavirus but it would have been nice to see how it went to the end, but it was great to finish second as it was.

What have you been doing to keep busy in lockdown?

I have been riding out for my dad every day so it has been nice to ride out to keep busy – then I would either run or cycle in the evening to try and keep my fitness levels up.

What do you miss the most with no racing?

The daily routine – of going to the races and having winners, the feeling of riding winners is something I have really missed. I had started to get going on the All-Weather season and things were going well for me so for that to be cut short and stop, meaning I could have to go back to square one and restart it all when I go back to racing, is a worry. It would have been nice to carry on how things were going into the turf season but I am healthy and safe, which is all that matters.

How has your typical day change since lockdown?

When it was announced that racing was going to be put on hold we turned a lot of our horses out in a field we rent from the Jockey Club and only kept a few of the two-year-olds in the yard, plus an older horse to give them a lead so we have only had 6 or 7 horses in during lockdown. This has meant we have only had to ride 2 or 3 lots a day, so things have been really easy in the yard. Once the yard is finished I can do whatever I like for the day, whereas before I was in the routine of going to the races after riding out.

Do you think the lockdown will have an effect on your future career?

As of my future, I am not sure if it will affect it or not but for the meantime, I just have to hope the success and rides pick up from where I was before lockdown. I am very lucky I work for my father who continuously supports me and I have guaranteed rides from him.

Are you worried yourself about riding again, health-wise, family friends etc?

I don’t think it will be a problem as the racecourses and everyone going to the races will be following strict distancing rules so as long as everyone sticks to the rules and regulations, I don’t think there should be an issue.

Has your boss (Phil McEntee) got any two-year-olds you are looking forward to getting on the track?

For any early type, we have a Swiss Spirit filly out of Bronze Star who seems to be very nice and is doing good bits of work now so I am very much looking forward to her getting on the track. We also have a later, back end two-year-old by Golden Horn out of Blue Beacon so I am excited to see what she can do as she has a brilliant attitude and has been the easiest two-year-old to break in.

What horses are you most looking forward to riding once you are back in the saddle? 

Grace and Split Down South
Grace and Split Down South

I am very much looking forward to getting back on Split Down South as I won five times on him during the All-Weather Season and he’s been a great horse for me. I think he could even improve on the turf so hopefully, there are exciting things to come.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

I am not setting any specific goals but my main goals would be to try and ride as many winners as I can, get as many outside rides as possible and keep on improving.

          We would like to thank Grace for her help with the blog

Blog by Robin McEntee

If you enjoyed this blog take a look at our A Jockey During Lockdown with Rab Havlin