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Former Ireland U21 international delighted with competitive racing debut

Jay Tabb finished sixth in the Thorner’s Of Somerset Racing Welfare Charity Flat Race at Wincanton.

Jay Tabb (file pic).
Jay Tabb (file pic).
Image: ©INPHO

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, an ex-Ireland U21 international, 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.

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“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.”

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