It is our pleasure to bring you an interview with Paul Ferguson, an author, regular race goer and a national hunt stalwart. Paul tells us about life in Liverpool, Jumpers to Follow & much more…..
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
I am the author of Jumpers To Follow – which is now in its 12th year – and currently work for Weatherbys.
What was your first memory of racing?
I remember watching racing with my Grandad and growing up in Liverpool, the Grand National is obviously a big thing. That said, the meeting is a lot bigger now that it was when I was growing up, but it is an event that the people of Liverpool are rightfully proud of.
Did you always want to work in racing & if not what were you looking to pursue as a career?
Like many young lads in Liverpool I wanted to be a footballer, but once it became apparent that I wouldn’t be good enough to fulfil my dream of playing for Everton, then working in racing became something that I wanted to pursue.
You work for Wetherbys, can you tell us a about how that role came about and what it entails?
Weatherbys approached me around three years ago, expressing an interest in Jumpers To Follow. Since then, I have been doing more and more for them, and I started working for them full-time last year. My role is varied, based around working on various publications, but basically I get to watch or go racing virtually full-time so I consider myself very fortunate.
Jumpers to Follow…. You are the Author of this yearly book. How did the project come about and what do you look for in a horse to follow in National Hunt racing?
Jumpers To Follow – or something similar – was a project that I always wanted to do once I started writing (my first couple of roles involved writing for the race cards at Haydock Park as well writing for Racing Ahead magazine, which I continue to do). I decided to give it a go and, thankfully, it still seems to be growing – the publication looks considerably better nowadays thanks to Weatherbys, but I won’t forget CC Publishing (a local publishers from Chester) who played a big part in getting the book off the ground.
In terms of what I look for, the majority of horses who I feature are youngsters starting out in their career, so a lot of emphasis is on bumper horses going hurdling. I am a sucker for a smooth-travelling horse and, thankfully, I have managed to highlight a few household names after just one or two starts in bumpers. Seeing horses in the flesh is key, too, when looking ahead to their long-term future, to see if they are chasing types, for example. Visiting yards and seeing horses work at home is something that I really enjoy.
Approximately, how much research goes into the Jumpers to Follow and do you have much assistance when looking for the horses to follow?
I work alone on Jumpers To Follow, until the lay out / design side of things. I have a few guest contributors each year and some regular jockey who contribute, but in terms of my own horses to follow and the majority of the book, it is all my own work. It’s hard to put an exact figure on how many hours it takes, but basically I start working on the book from May and we usually go to print in late-August.
Along with Jumpers to Follow, you also write Cheltenham Festival Betting guide. How long does it take to compile?
This year is the first that time that I have written the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, although I wrote the more compact Aintree & Punchestown Festivals Betting Guide last year. It is still on-going, so again it is hard to put into man hours, but the project started several months ago and there has been a considerable amount of time/effort that has already gone into it. It will be going to print in mid-February.
Probably Viking Flagship, as he was the horse that got me hooked on National Hunt racing.
Tough one between Cheltenham and Aintree, but I should be bias and say the latter.
Best race ever seen?
Probably Denman’s second Hennessy.
Maybe Well Chief for coming up against the likes of Moscow Flyer and Azertyuiop in what was a vintage era for two-mile chasers. He also shouldered top-weight to win a big handicap and, again, that was something that I had the pleasure of witnessing live.
Do you have any plans for more publications and what does the year ahead look like for Paul Ferguson?
The next few months are obviously geared around Cheltenham and Aintree, after which it won’t be long before I will be starting on JTF 2019-2020.
Can you give our readers a horse to follow for the rest of the National Hunt season?
I’ll try and avoid the obvious Cheltenham contenders and give you Tedham, trained by Jonjo O’Neill. He won a handicap at Wincanton in smooth fashion recently and a 6lbs rise shouldn’t be enough to stop him winning again. There could be a nice handicap in him at some stage.
If anyone is interested in pre ordering the Cheltenham Guide here is the link.. https://bettrendsshop.co.uk/weatherbys-cheltenham-festival-betting-guide-2019/
We would like to thank Paul for his time and wish all the best for the future and his continued success with Jumpers to Follow….
Main Picture – Paul Ferguson(Twitter)
All others photos – File
Interview by Rich Williams