A month ago, Will Biddick was one of many popular amateur jockeys denied the opportunity of riding in the Cheltenham Festival due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
But there was undoubted consolation for the all-time leading point-to-point pilot as Porlock Bay battled bravely to see off Willie Mullins’ Billaway at Prestbury Park under Lorcan Williams.
But with the return of the sport to an amateur level in Britain, all roads now lead to Aintree for this week’s Grand National Festival.
The Somerset representative, who is based only a short distance from Paul Nicholls, talks to aintree.co.uk about what drives him, a couple of horses to watch out for next campaign and his favourite Grand National memory.
You’ve won the Irish Champion Hunter Chase twice and recently trained the winner of the Foxhunters at Cheltenham, is the Aintree Foxhunters the missing piece?
I just love to win over those fences – I’ve ridden in the Sefton and the Becher. I’ve finished second and had every letter and number after that but haven’t actually won, so it would be nice to get a win over those fences.
As the winning most point-to-point jockey of all time and multiple champion rider, what drives you to keep going?
I love the game. I’ve still got goals to achieve and I’d miss it if I stopped.
Describe what it’s like to ride over the National fences? Does your preparation change at all?
Your preparation doesn’t change really – it’s all about just getting your horse in a rhythm and riding your race.
McFabulous is one of the many young horses you’ve produced at Manor Farm, give a young horse to look out for?
Captain Destiny and Sandalwood are two four-year-olds that will go on the track next year, likely to be in the autumn.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
It would be from Dan Skelton halfway through my career, because I rode quite animated and aggressive he told me to sit quiet a bit more. I predominately ride in three-mile chases so funnily enough, I had fewer fallers when I sat quieter!
If someone has never experienced a day point-to-point, where would you recommend they head?
I’d say Bratton Down. The sun is often shining, it’s a great social day out and they are good people up on Exmoor.
You’ve ridden lots of winners for Paul Nicholls over the years, what are his best attributes as a trainer?
His drive and enthusiasm for the game. It is infectious to be around someone when they have all of that.
What’s your favourite Grand National memory?
It’s got to be Many Clouds’ victory in 2015. He was a loveable horse and I think everyone was rooting for him when he ran, so that was a good National for me.
Point-to-pointing has recently started again, have you had any luck?
No luck so far, but I’ve only had one meeting and I’ve got six rides at the weekend.
Can you see yourself taking out a public training licence in time?
No chance of me taking out a professional license. With the business, the breakers and the pre-trainers, I’d jeopardise that if I ever turned professional and it would take my life away. I enjoy what I do in pointing, so I’ll just drive on with that.