Grand National winner Ryan Mania reveals uncertainty for jockeys

Grand National-winning rider Ryan Mania is one of many jockeys who is uncertain what the future holds as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania steered outsider Aurora’s Encore to glory in the 2013 Grand National at Aintree. Picture: Julian Finney/GettyGalashiels jockey Ryan Mania steered outsider Aurora’s Encore to glory in the 2013 Grand National at Aintree. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty
Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania steered outsider Aurora’s Encore to glory in the 2013 Grand National at Aintree. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty

While Mania, who returned to race-riding earlier this season following a premature retirement, admits the jumping game has a little less to lose than their Flat counterparts, he is still extremely worried by when racing may be allowed to resume.

“I’m feeling the same as everyone else, it’s very disappointing this had to happen. They’ve called it off and that’s just the way it is,” said Mania, who shot to fame riding Auroras Encore to victory at Aintree in 2013.

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“I feel we could have kept going a little longer. It was inevitable it was going to stop, it was only a matter of time, but we maybe could have got another couple of weeks in behind closed doors.

“That might have made it easier to come to terms with as well. One minute I was on the phone to my agent sorting a couple of rides out and the next I got a text message saying it was all off.

“It was very abrupt the way it was called off and it was very hard to come to terms with. I think the biggest problem for everyone is not knowing when it is going to start again.”

The Galashiels 30-year-old rides principally for his father-in-law, Sandy Thomson, who trains in Berwickshire and the pair were enjoying a fruitful spell recently. Mania added: “If we knew it was going to resume on May 1 then we’d enjoy a break and get going again, but realistically it’s going to be a lot longer.

“You can’t make any plans. It could be worse and we could be in a Flat yard. I can’t imagine what those guys are going through, as it’s the start of their season,” said Mania.

“For the jumps game the timing of it isn’t a disaster, the horses in our yard might have had one more run each – maximum two – but for the Flat yards it’s a nightmare. It’s a worry if we get much past May, they’ll miss half their season.”

Like many, Mania is fearful of not being able to earn a living and he is keen to find out the plans of the Professional Jockeys Association. “I know they are trying to come up with a financial plan to support everybody, but I feel there won’t be enough money going around,” he added.

“I know the Government are doing their best, but there’s just not going to be enough money.

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“Let’s be realistic, you are talking about every single industry being on its knees.

“I’m hoping to hear something more from the PJA. It’s not terrible yet for the jump jockeys, but for the Flat lads it will be worse. We are all losing wages currently.

“I was hoping to make some money riding out for a Flat trainer at the end of the season, but now that is unlikely to happen so how do I make money?

“Historically I never had too much of a worry in the summer, I always managed to get a few rides and tick along. This year I wanted to ride out every day for a Flat yard to keep the money coming in, as I wouldn’t be picking up many spares, as there aren’t many. I just don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

Mania knows only too well the difficulties that many yards will face.

“The horses still need exercising, but how are the trainers going to pay them as why will the owners want to pay full fees when they can’t run their horses,” he said.

“I dread to think what shape we’ll be in when we return. It’s the not knowing. We can only assume the state the game will be in when we do return.

“It’s not just me going through it, it’s all of us, everyone and everything so we’re all going to have find ways and means of getting through this crisis – but it’s not easy at all.

“Racing folk are great at sticking together and I’m sure we all will, but it won’t make it any easier.

“These are interesting times, shall we say.”