Britain’s men’s champion Jack Andrews is gearing up to retain his title when the 2020/21 season gets underway with a planned start on October 24.
Andrews, 22, (pictured above) rode 21 winners in the shortened season that ended in March, five more than former champion and runner-up Alex Edwards, and was awarded the championship for the first time.
Based at the Warwickshire yard run by his brother-in-law Tom Ellis and sister Gina, Andrews was at Goffs UK’s Summer Sale held in Doncaster this week “looking at one or two stores and possibly a form horse that could go into a syndicate”.
Looking back over the extended close season, Jack said: “Things were very quiet at the end of March and early April, but once we managed to get the pointers roughed off we took a few breakers in, which is one of my jobs at Tom and Gina’s. That kept me occupied. We now have eight or nine pointers back in training, including three or four unraced four-year-olds who we would hope to get out before Christmas to support the early meetings.”
Being some 6ft 5ins tall means Andrews has to be particularly diligent about diet and exercise, and he said: “I do watch my weight and it’s currently about 11st, so not much above my riding weight. I try to keep as busy as possible to keep it in check and would rather do that than allow myself to get too heavy in the close season and then have to find a way of getting it all off.”
With that in mind it is no surprise that he would like to see a smaller concession in the weights five-year-olds concede to four-year-olds in races.
Glancing at proposed regulation changes for next season, he said: “I like the idea of allowing intermediate race winners to run in another intermediate with a penalty. That should help the number of runners in those races, and creating three levels of conditions races should work.
“I cannot see why a five-year-old has to concede a stone to a four-year-old. It’s not necessary. I know I’m biased because of my weight, but I’m not the only senior rider who can’t do the weights – Will [Biddick] and Bradley [Gibbs] would be two other good examples. That means trainers often have to turn to young, inexperienced riders, and I think it would encourage people to buy and run four-year-olds if the weights were higher and they could use their preferred riders. It’s the same when selling a four-year-old – people say ‘you beat an older maiden getting a stone’, even though your horse won easily and could have carried more weight.
“It’s point-to-pointing, and if we could ride at 10st 7lb we would be riding under Rules.”
In a period when racing fixtures have been affected by Covid-19 virus closures the chances of amateurs like Andrews picking up an occasional spin under Rules have been reduced, although Alex Edwards was in action at Bangor yesterday and scored a handicap chase win on Damut I’m Out for trainer Alastair Ralph.
Andrews said: “I’m not expecting to get any rides under Rules this summer, but if one pops up I’ll be happy to take it.” Asked if he was looking forward to the next point-to-point season he said: “Big time! I would ride all year round if I could, but it’s probably been good to have a break.
“My ambition next season is to retain the title and ride one more winner than Gina. She managed one more than me last season, and wouldn’t shut up about it.”