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Immy Robinson

This week we're chatting to successful jockey and new PPORA blogger for the 22/23 season, Immy Robinson! Immy is one of the most experienced lady jockeys in the changing room with 67 winners to her name, including 2 Cheltenham Hunter Chase winners! She is never without a smile and is often seen in the winner's enclosure. Alongside her day job, Immy and her mother Caroline have a successful string of horses in training; Immy’s most successful partnership was with the gutsy mare Popaway, who she steered to victory an amazing 10 times!

How are you involved in pointing? I'm a jockey and am getting increasingly involved in the training side of things too. Mum and I currently train a string of pointers from our base in Shropshire. I took out my point-to-point license as soon as I possibly could and had my first ride the day after my 16th birthday. 15 years on and I still love it as much as ever!

What is your favourite aspect of pointing? Winning is obviously what it's all about, but I also love being part of lots of different teams. I ride for some great people and love getting to know them and their setups and working together to make a plan for different horses. When it all comes together at a sunny spring point-to-point, there's no better feeling!

How did you get into pointing? I've been involved in pointing all my life. Both my parents were amateur jockeys and went on to train. Dad trained professionally for a while when I was little and Mum has been training pointers ever since I can remember. I did lots of Pony Club when I was little and evented quite seriously as a teenager. Pony racing was brought into the UK when I was 15 so I did that for a year which fuelled my determination to become a jockey. I found an old homework diary the other day and was reminded of how I literally counted down the days until I could race ride, starting from about 450 days out!

What is your day job? I work for a charity as a researcher and facilitator. Before the pandemic I was based in London which meant lots of to-ing and fro-ing down the M1 late at night but the pandemic showed we can be just as effective working from home so I moved back up to Shropshire and now fit work in around doing horses! In the depths of winter we ride 3 lots out in the pitch black so I can get to my desk at a semi-reasonable time. What's been the biggest lesson in your working life? That it's not what you do, it's how you do it. I work with a lot of organisations that focus so much on their processes and the details of their work that they lose sight of the big picture and the fact that they're human beings working with other human beings. So I think that the biggest lesson I've learnt is to spend time building good relationships, and everything else falls into place from there.

How would you describe pointing to someone that hasn’t been before? A bunch of adrenaline junkies hurtling around a field over fences, watched by families and friends picnicking from the back of their cars, sometimes in the sunshine but most often in the rain! What’s your pointing highlight/biggest achievement? Winning at the Cheltenham Evening Meeting on the indomitable Popaway in 2016 and 2018 were definite highlights. She was awesome both days and the feeling of powering up that famous hill will stay with me for a long time! More recently, winning the Lorna Brooke Memorial Final at Chaddesley at the end of last season on another mare, Champagne Lily, was a real highlight. I wanted to win that race from the moment it was announced and we had a real battle with Southfield Theatre to just get up on the line.

Who's a figure in racing you admire? A lot is said about the big names, but I really admire the smaller setups who graft away with the resources they have and manage to compete successfully against the much bigger yards. I'm thinking particularly about the Rigbys and the Owens - both of whom I have the pleasure of riding for. Success against the odds is extra satisfying!

If you could change one thing in pointing, what would it be? A small and somewhat flippant thing, but the food in the changing rooms! Some Yorkshire tracks do a great job of supplying us with yummy snacks, but most places offer up shrivelled sandwiches and a few gummy bears! There's usually a big hole in the picnic by the time I get back to the lorry which leads to a hangry drive home!

Where’s your favourite point-to-point & why? That's a hard one! I love all point-to-points in the old North West Area - Eyton, Tabley, Sandon etc as well as many of the Yorkshire courses. My favourite point-to-point might have to be Bredwardine though. It's a really friendly course in a beautiful setting and somewhere that one of my favourite horses - Oh Toodles - used to excel. What’s your earliest pointing memory? Watching Jemaro - an exuberant front runner that my Granddad bought as a 4-year-old and my Mum trained - hurtling around Chaddesley Corbett, breaking the course record. I was lucky enough to ride him at the end of his career and he gave me my first winner. He had his last run at 18 years of age - a year older than I was at the time!

What do you think lies for the future of pointing? I'm hopeful about the future of pointing. I see how passionate we all are about it and can't see how something so many people love so dearly could fall by the wayside. I think Peter Wright and his team are doing a fantastic job looking for ways to continually evolve it, and think the future lies in finding the right balance between supporting the commercial operators to be successful and keeping the small owner-riders interested and able to be competitive. What's your favourite aspect of riding pointers? It's probably forging a really great partnership with a horse - one where you feel like you're both really in tune and making the same decisions. One of the best partnerships I struck was with a really difficult horse of my Mum's called Shales Rock. He was incredibly quirky and would stick his head up and slam the brakes on if you hit him, but we won six races together including two hunter chases - one at 80-1!

If you could ride any point-to-pointer in the country, who would you choose & why? I love riding bold front runners so I'd love to have a spin on the likes of Southfield Theatre and - in the brief time he pointed - Ahoy Senor. Latenightpass doesn't look like a bad spin either! Any hobbies outside of horses? I've got really into CrossFit - a fitness community which runs competitions across the country and the world - and have just bought a campervan and love going off on adventures around the country with my dog. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I'm also quite into gardening and spend much of the summer pottering around tending to my plants!

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