We are delighted to bring you a new Rising Star Interview with Apprentice Jockey Izzie Francis, the 24 year old is currently learning her trade with Mark Usher & is looking to reduce her claim in the coming flat season…..
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please?
I am 24 years old, from a small seaside town; Birchington-On-Sea in Kent, and have been working in racing since the summer of 2014.
What is your earliest horse racing related memory?
My earliest memory would be when our family would gather round the paper one morning a year trying to pick out the winner of the Grand National, where my two younger sisters and I were given £1 each to bet on a horse. Our choices were usually based on our age or if a horse had a funny name. None of us ever won!
Other than this, I honestly didn’t know that the racing industry existed. Having no background in racing what so ever in my family or know of anyone around my area that did. The nearest course would have been Folkestone, which was a good 45 minutes drive from home. It wasn’t until I was about 16/17 that I discovered racing through a friend who had been to the British Racing School.
I had a hard think about what I really wanted in life. Money? A boring office job?
Or happiness and life experiences and doing something I love with animals?
How long have you been riding horses?
I have been riding horses since the age of 3.
Did you always want to train to be a jockey or did you have another career in mind before becoming an apprentice?
No. Growing up I always wanted to go to university and work with animals. Whether that was a vet, zoologist, marine biologist etc.
I was very good academically at school but the one subject that let me down was biology, which was a problem. I realised I couldn’t continue to become a vet, so I set my sights on becoming an accountant. Something that runs in the family.
I completed my first year of A-Level Maths, Physics, Economics and Chemistry. I loved these subjects, but one day I had a hard think about what I really wanted in life. Money?
A boring office job? Or happiness and life experiences and doing something I love with animals?
What was your route into becoming an apprentice & How did your current job come about?
I started off at the BRS, then worked for Hughie Morrison for two years. I remember my first piece of work on the then 2yo Sweet Selection, and from that moment I was hooked. I wanted to be a jockey. I then moved to Jim Boyle where I got my apprentice licence.
Jim is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and he really looked after me. He gave me my first ride and first winner, on two horses that were lovely old school masters. You couldn’t ask for better when you’re starting out. I was with Jim for nearly 3 years before moving to Lambourn where I am now apprentice to Mark Usher.
I had ridden a winner for Mr Usher whilst still working for Jim, and had been going in to ride out for him regularly. The head lad at the time told me to go and have a chat with Mr. Usher about an opportunity to move to Lambourn and be an apprentice here, with the chance of more rides on a regular basis.
I have been working for Mr. Usher since October 2019.
When did you have your first ride under rules? Were you nervous & how did you find the experience?
22nd February 2017 at Kempton on Kristoff. I don’t remember being particularly nervous, just very excited and eager to get on! It felt as though it was over in a flash, I came back in beaming from ear to ear. I absolutely loved it.
Can you remember your first winner & how emotional was it to be in the winners enclosure?
Like it was yesterday. Duke Of North at Lingfield 12th May 2017, 7F on the grass. I was so happy and couldn’t believe we had just won.
What are the BEST & WORST aspects of your job?
The best part would be riding the winners, coming back into the winners enclosure to happy delighted connections, with cheers and clapping from the public. A great buzz.
The worst would be the long lonely drives. Especially after a bad day at the office. It’s easy to play it over and over in your head on the way home and beat yourself up about things when you’re stuck with your own company for a few hours.
Have you set any targets for the season?
I just want to keep improving. I’d like to do better than last year, and hopefully get my claim down to my 5lbs.
What is the BEST piece of advice you have been given?
You cannot control what everyone else around you is going to do, so stop over analysing things and focus on what is the best thing for you and your horse.
Drink… Pineapple juice
Food…. Steak, medium rare.
Music…. Indie rock/ Alt rock?
TV/Film… Action, or a chick flick
Best way to relax outside racing?
I like to go and see my family back home whenever I can. I like going shopping and I also enjoy going fishing.
The final TWO questions……….
If you could ride ANY horse PAST or PRESENT, who would it be & WHY?
Frankel, different class.
Can you give our readers a horse to keep their eye on for the season ahead please?
Bagatelle. A lovely big filly, lightly raced and will be one to keep an eye on when she returns to the turf.
We would like to thank Izzie for her time, as we know the build up to the flat season is particularly hectic. We will be certainly looking out for Izzie and wish her all the best for the season ahead & for the future.
Interview by Rich Williams
Pictures – Izzie Francis (Twitter) & Frankel (File)