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Marcus Armytage: My route from jockey to journalist

I grew up around horses. My father trained, and my mother was an international showjumper, riding for Dorothy Paget, who owned Golden Miller. I always thought I’d do something horsey, but it wasn’t necessarily going to be in racing. My father bought me a horse, and I used a category B amateur licence when I was sixteen which, in those days, didn’t involve any of the training and fitness tests you do now.

The horse I was given was bred by the late queen, and was called Honours Even. We ran in every amateur racing going, getting numbers up to ride in open races at Windsor during the winter, when I was allowed one lesson off a term. My father was very patient, particularly as my younger sister was much more precocious, competitive, and gung-ho than me. That approach probably cost her in injuries, but it meant she had a double at Cheltenham before I’d even ridden there!