Tag Archive for: Jay Tabb

Former footballer Tabb thrilled by charity race performance

Former Premier League footballer Jay Tabb is planning his next race-riding experience, after finishing sixth in the Thorner’s Of Somerset Racing Welfare Charity Flat Race at Wincanton.

The 37-year-old played at Crystal Palace, Brentford, Coventry and Reading during his career as a midfielder before learning to ride at the Northern Racing School and taking up a role with trainer Philip Hobbs in 2019.

Hobbs provided Tabb with a ride on Umndeni for his competitive debut on Sunday, with the gelding slightly caught on the back foot at the start before running on to finish sixth.

“To finish sixth, I’m absolutely delighted,” said Tabb.

“It was the best experience ever – I would recommend it to anyone who works in racing.

“I would love to do that again, because it is such a buzz. A realistic aim is to ride in a point-to-point in the spring.

“I’m delighted to work in the industry and get the chance I did today. I’m lucky to do what I’m doing, and to find something I love after football is really good as well.”

Tabb likened anticipation before the race to the pre-match butterflies he used to experience.

“Driving in this morning was the first time I’ve had the same feeling as driving to a football match,” he said.

“It is very similar in the fact that you are on your own and you are getting there earlier than all the fans, so the butterflies are building up a long time before the race is taking place.

“It was quite nice actually, listening to the radio and thinking how the day would go.

“At the end of the day you are performing for someone, so it is the biggest thrill you can get.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls enjoyed a one-two in the contest, with his staff taking the top two slots at their local track.

Sarah West was victorious aboard Celestial Force, beating Wise Glory and Hannah Roche by just a nose.

“I used to ride in point-to-points but I haven’t done that for 10 years, so I was a bit rusty – and I was still quite nervous, because I didn’t want to let the team down,” said West.

“It’s all a bit surreal really, but I think it all went to plan. I was hoping to make all the running, but I did end up near the pace.

“Turning into the straight I kicked on, then I realised it was my colleague (Roche) upsides me – and I thought ‘I can’t let her by’.

“There was only a nose in it, but it felt like a dead heat – for everyone concerned at the yard, we couldn’t have had a better result.

“I think it was the fact that Celestial Force had a bigger head – that’s why he stayed in front. It was really exciting and it was great to have the chance to ride in it.”

Former footballer Jay Tabb all set for charity ride

Former Premier League footballer Jay Tabb will experience another kind of sporting thrill when he takes to the saddle for the Fitzdares Racing Welfare Charity Flat Race at Wincanton on Sunday.

The 37-year-old enjoyed a 16-year career as a midfielder, working his way through Crystal Palace’s youth academy before undertaking spells at Brentford, Coventry, Reading and Ipswich alongside gaining ten caps for the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 side.

Upon retirement Tabb, who was introduced to racing and racehorse ownership by a teammate, learned to ride at the Northern Racing College in Doncaster (now the National Horseracing College) and began working for leading National Hunt trainer Philip Hobbs in 2019.

“I got into racing through one of my old teammates who used to, whenever we travelled away for matches, watch racing on TV so I used to watch it with him,” he said.

Jay Tabb at Stratford Racecourse
Jay Tabb at Stratford Racecourse (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Then we got involved in a couple of syndicates and we managed to get our own colours and own our own horse.

“Whenever we’d go to the yards to watch them train on the gallops I always thought ‘it’d be amazing to try that’.

“When the football finished I thought I’d give it a go and go up to the Northern Racing College but before that I’d never had any experience riding horses.”

Though both sports require a high level of fitness and discipline, Tabb quickly became aware of how football and riding place different physical demands on the body.

“In all sports you can be fit in that discipline but when you go to another sport you find it to be totally different, that’s what I found with riding horses,” he said.

“The jockeys on TV make it look easy but it definitely isn’t when you’re on a horse, at first it was hard getting used to being in that position for a while.

Tabb (right) playing for Brentford
Tabb (right) playing for Brentford (PA)

“At the moment the fitness side of it seems to be going well, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the equicizer and I’d like to think I’m as ready as I can be.”

Hobbs has two horses earmarked for Tabb to ride in the race, with veteran chaser Rolling Dylan a possible mount alongside seven-year-old gelding Umndeni.

“I think it’s between Rolling Dylan and Umndeni, they’ve both got entries as well this weekend and next week so I think whichever one doesn’t take up his entry I will probably ride at Wincanton,” Tabb said.

“I’ve been sitting on them this week and getting to know them, they’re both really nice horses and nice rides so whichever one I’m on I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

Betfred Midlands Grand National Day – Uttoxeter Races
Rolling Dylan ridden by Tom O’Brien

“I’m really good friends with all of the jockeys down there so as soon as I know exactly what I’m riding for definite I’ll see who’s been riding him and have a chat with them on the phone and see what the best way to go about it is.”

Tabb intends to ride out in his racing saddle and breeches in preparation for a competitive run in the race, but his priority is to enjoy the experience and contribute as much as possible to Racing Welfare.

“First and foremost I just want to make sure we get down to the start and jump off and then anything from then is a bonus,” he said.

“Both of the horses I’m possibly riding are good horses and have had good careers so I’d like to think I have a chance of having a nice race, but I think the most important thing is raising money for the charity and enjoying the day and enjoying the experience.

Tabb during his time at Coventry
Tabb during his time at Coventry (Dave Thompson/PA)

“All the riders are raising money for the same charity and it’s a great charity, hopefully we can raise as much as possible.”

Tabb is not the first sportsperson to take up riding after a successful career in another discipline, with Wincanton also the scene of one of Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton’s early rides before her fifth-placed finish aboard Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Daniel Cooper, Wincanton’s clerk of the course, said: “We are excited to have yet another sporting professional take on the popular Somerset racetrack on Sunday, having seen Victoria Pendleton riding here previously, plus not forgetting our close association with cricket pros Jamie and Craig Overton as ambassadors for the course.

“We understand that preparations are going well for Jay, but the pressure is now on during these final few days to stay fit, healthy and watch his diet!

“Most importantly, the money already being raised for the Racing Welfare charity is exceeding expectations and donations, and together with a large auction on the day could well result in a record-breaking amount of money raised on a single raceday here at Wincanton.”

Donations to Tabb can be made via – https://justgiving.com/fundraising/jay-tabb?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=jay-tabb&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=f0f64ca017d0474da42413977cd61821