Role – Rider/Groom
Joined – 1st spell (2009-2012) 2nd spell (July 2020-)
Favourite Horse – Fev Rover and Monsieur Kodi
In this first edition of a new Q & A series, we sat down with Maz to learn more about her journey through racing.
Can you tell us about the first time you sat on a racehorse and your early days in racing?
It was in the summer of 2006 when I first arrived in the UK from Poland. I was working for a jumps trainer down in Dorset called Paul Keane at the time. It was quite difficult, because since the age of ten, all I had known was show-jumping. The switch to working with and riding racehorses was something completely new to me.
However, once I found my feet, I didn’t find the riding side of things too hard. Perhaps because they were jumps horses – big, strong animals – there were, in a way, quite similar to showjumpers. And so it wasn’t too long before I was on the canter and up the gallop with the rest of the team. Knowing I came from a jumping background, they also allowed me to school a few over hurdles and fences – often upsides Paul’s stable jockeys at the time – Daryl Jacob and Neil Mulholland.
It was fun, it was different, it was rough and ready – Paul ran quite a traditional, old school jumping yard – but I enjoyed my time there.
Paul then thought I was too light for a jumps license, so he sent me up to Southwell for some work experience with his good friend and flat trainer Eoghan O’Neill. That was where my journey properly started. That was where I went through the stalls for the first time, worked upsides with three or four horses at a time and learnt about the pace of flat horses. It was such a good experience and I learnt a huge amount. I ended up staying for about seven months before making the journey up to Yorkshire where I took out my apprentice license with Nigel Tinkler.
You rode in 53 races across three seasons between 2008-10; winning five, second in three and third in five. How do you reflect on those days?
I really enjoyed my time. I was surrounded by a good team of people – Paul Hanagan in particular was someone who was always keen to help and lend advice. And, looking back at it now, it is a bit of a regret of mine that I packed it in so early. Paul still sometimes asks me when I’m coming back! I’m too old now, but it is really nice to look back and remember how fantastic the whole thing was. I love to remember how every ride gave me a buzz. And riding winners! There’ll never be anything that can take those memories and those feelings away from me.
On the other hand, it was quite hard as well. My English still wasn’t very good – so communication between trainers and owners was always tough. I’d say that that was my main reason for giving up at the time. Also being a girl in the weighing room back then was hard.
Can you pick out three of the best horses you’ve ridden at Fahey’s?
It is honestly hard to pick out the best horses, because our job on a daily basis is to try and get the best out of each horse we ride. Some try and some don’t – so it’s difficult to say who the best ones are.
That being said, the horse that does stand out in my mind is Fev Rover – she was exceptional. On the gallop she flew along with her long, beautiful stride and you could tell she loved her work. She was always sound and the boss would often say how easy she was to train. In every one of her races, even if she didn’t win, she put her whole heart into it. She was grumpy, quirky, full of attitude, but incredibly talented. I feel very privileged that I was able to ride her for a good chunk of her career.
Can you give us three older horses to follow for the season, and perhaps one two-year-old as well?
Barbanera – She ran very well in her listed race last year and is still unexposed. I think she’s still got a lot to give this year. Whenever I have sat on her, she has always given me a nice feel.
Gorak – I haven’t sat on this one many times, but when I have, I’ve been impressed. I love the way he moves, the way he looks and I think that by being bigger and stronger this year, he’ll do well.
Maywake – He was running very well on the all-weather before Christmas and I think he’ll be able to do the same on turf and win us some nice races.
Dyed In The Wool (two-year-old) – He’s sharp and seems to find everything quite easy. I hope he’ll go well this year.
What would you be doing if you didn’t work with horses?
I’d miss the horses too much! I have, however, always had it in the back of my mind that I could be a fitness instructor. I think I could motivate people quite well – or failing that, flog them to do it!
What are you looking forward to most about the summer ahead?
We are all looking forward to seeing the horses running well and I’m personally really looking forward to see how the youngsters turn out – ones like Dyed In The Wool. It’d be great to see all the hard work that’s been put into them over the winter pay off on the track.