Alice Mills, congratulations on your recent win in Bahrain in the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Racing Championship (IRAHR) on Kuheilan Al Adiyat. Horsereporter fans are interested in this ride and what it took to get to this point in your racing career.
Alice, Can you tell us a bit about your training and racing regimen?
I live in Somerset, England, where I work freelance. I ride at a number of different training yards during the week and I race all over the country and in Jersey.
Do you travel a good deal in getting rides?
Yes. I will travel anywhere to get rides and so I tend to spend a lot of my time on the road. I also think nothing of hopping on a plane to Jersey for a ride. I never turn a ride down. I would always rather be riding in a race than sat at home watching someone else ride!
What type of racing/horses do you generally ride? Do you often ride Arabian horses in your racing career?
I regularly ride both thoroughbred flat and jumps racing but don’t often have the opportunity to ride Arabian horses. I have previously ridden in a listed Arabian race in England and I have also ridden in a few Arabian races as part of the FEGENTRI series in 2014.
Are you a professional jockey? What is your race record? How long have you been riding?
Yes. I have ridden horses all my life. I previously rode as an amateur jockey for 10 years before applying for my professional license last year. I rode 28 point to point winners but always struggled with the high weights! I have also ridden 10 jump winners most of which were in professional races on my amateur license. In addition I have ridden 13 winners on the flat in England, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Jersey and now Bahrain. Now I am one of the only professional lady jockeys in England to ride regularly in both flat and jumps races.
What is the biggest race you have won or of which you are very proud?
Last year I won the Somerset National on a wonderful horse called Monkerty Tunkerty. At the time I was still riding as an amateur so it was a big achievement to win a high-profile professional race. I also finished second in the FEGENTRI Ladies World Championship Series 2014. It was an unbelievable experience.
Had you been in Bahrain before? Did you enjoy the experience? What did you like about your mount, Kuheilan Al Adiyat?
I have never been to Bahrain before but know people who have lived or current live there so was really excited to explore the country. The people are so welcoming and hospitable and I love the weather.
I was so lucky to have the opportunity to ride Kuheilan Al Adiyat. He was a lovely strong and genuine horse and definitely looked the pick of the paddock. He really tried for me in the tight finish and deserved to come away with the win. I was delighted to ride for top trainer Allan Smith. He even invited us to see behind the scenes at his yard.
What do you like best about being a racehorse jockey?
I love being around horses; I have done so all my life. But I also love that it doesn’t feel like a job. I feel so lucky that something I love doing has also given me the opportunity to ride all over the world.
Did your parents or peer group encourage you in your career choice?
Both my parents rode as amateur jockeys but when I was younger I’d never given it much thought. I had some brilliant competition ponies that mum and I produced so had great fun competing all over the country in show jumping, Eventing and Tetrathlon. It wasn’t until I was offered a horse to ride in some point to points that I got into racing. He was a very tricky horse to train but fantastic in a race. After a season on him I was hooked.
My mum actually bred my first winner Sunny Ways. We produced her together for Eventing but when I decided I wanted to make the switch to racing the mare had to switch with me. It was a special day to win at our home point to point track on a horse we had done everything with together.
What is the most difficult thing for you in your racing career (getting rides, competition, making weight?)
As an amateur jump jockey I always struggled to make the weight but because I was too light not too heavy! I loved point to pointing but the weights are very high so it made it hard to get rides because I carried so much lead. Since turning professional I am lucky to ride for some loyal trainers but finding new rides is always hard because it’s a competitive environment. I just keep working hard to get as many rides as possible.
Have you ever had a bad scare whilst racing? Funny race story?
On the whole I’ve been very lucky but I did have one nasty injury a few years ago at Cheltenham where I fractured my face in multiple places. I had surgery to have 4 metal plates fitted and thankfully have had no ill effects since. I was just impatient to get back in the saddle.
What will you be doing in five years? Still riding race horses?
I hope to continue riding professionally for several years yet.
Have you been to Abu Dhabi and what will you do if you win the big race in November?
I went to Abu Dhabi when I last rode in this series in 2012 but only as a spectator. I am so exciting to be actually riding in the final this year and if I win I’ll definitely have to have a party to celebrate as this in a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Thank you Alice. Good luck in November.