Former Ipswich Town star finishes sixth in his first competitive horse race

Trainer Jay Tabb at Stratford Racecourse, Stratford-on-Avon. Picture date: Monday October 4, 2021.

Jay Tabb at Stratford Racecourse, recently. He rode in his first race at the weekend at Wincanton. - Credit: PA

Former Ipswich Town star Jay Tabb has taken to the saddle in his first competitive race.

The ex-Blues midfielder, 37, who made more than 80 appearances for Ipswich, came sixth in the Thorner’s Of Somerset Racing Welfare Charity Flat Race at Wincanton on Sunday and described the occasion as the “best experience ever.”

Tabb is now working in racing and was riding aboard the Philip Hobbs-trained Umndeni in the mile and a quarter contest which was won by Celestial Force and Sarah West.

Jay Tabb shields the ball from Dominic Iorfa at Wolves

Jay Tabb shields the ball from Dominic Iorfa at Wolves when he was in Blues colours. - Credit: Page Pix

Although the former Brentford, Coventry City, Ipswich Town and Reading star failed to win, he admitted he was keen to take in a similar race along with testing his riding ability in a point-to-point.

He told Sporting “Our travelling head lad all week had been saying to me don’t miss the start and today it was one of those things. I knew it was going to happen.

“We took a turn. They then said take another turn and we did. Before I knew it, I was second last. I’m a little bit gutted I wasn’t closer to the pace at the start but someone has to be at the back.

“To be fair to my horse I didn’t panic as after that happened I knew I wasn’t going to win. So I thought try and travel and overtake a couple.

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“To finish sixth, I’m absolutely delighted. Without winning it was the best result I could have asked for.

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

“I would love to do that again as 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.”

Ipswich Town FC v Bolton Wanderers.Sky bet championship.Freddie Sears in action for Town.Kevin Jay

Jay Tabb scores for Town against Bolton at Portman Road in 2015. - Credit: Archant

There might be plenty of differences between racing and football but the drive to the Somerset track reminded Tabb of his journey’s to various grounds up and down the country.

He added: “Driving in this morning was the first time I’ve had the same feeling as driving to a football match.

“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.

“I had loads of people supporting me so it kind of took my mind off the race and they have all had a good day as well."

Despite having worked for Grade One-winning trainer Philip Hobbs for the past two and a half years Tabb, who also rides out for Epsom handler Pat Phelan, has no intention of turning his passion into a full time career in the saddle.

“Before I started working in racing I used to watch it all the time and you think someone just sits on a horse and they make it look easy but it isn’t," Tabb said.

“I’ve lived with Sean Houlihan (jockey) for two years. I know what they have to go through and how talented they are. It makes you have so much respect for them."

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