Hawick jockey becomes champion of the North

CAVE HUNTER (Tom Hamilton) (right) wins the club members race at The Tyndale Point-to-point 2/3/14'Photograph by John Grossick 0771 046 1723
CAVE HUNTER (Tom Hamilton) (right) wins the club members race at The Tyndale Point-to-point 2/3/14'Photograph by John Grossick 0771 046 1723

With an impressive seasonal tally of 20 point-to-point winners, Tom Hamilton has secured the Northern Area men’s championship title.

En route to the success, the 18-year-old from Birnieknowe, on the outskirts of Hawick, also celebrated his first four-timer.

That feat was completed at the Fife fixture at Balcormo Mains.

“It has been a very lucky track for me as I rode my first pony race winner there,” explained Tom.

“Then, on my next visit to the track, I had four rides and four winners.”

Currently studying business management at college in Edinburgh, Tom began riding at an early age.

“I was put onto a horse before I could walk,” he joked.

An enthusiastic member of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Pony Club, Tom was a regular part of its showjumping and eventing teams, although concedes dressage was not his strong point. He also hunts with the Jedforest and followed the Cornet at many of the Hawick ride-outs, which he says taught him to “sit tight” across the hills.

From a racing background – his mother Wendy is a point-to-point trainer, while father Michael is a Jockey Club clerk of scales – it was almost inevitable Tom would become involved in the sport.

“My family have always been keen on racing and I was brought up around racehorses,” he added.

He progressed through the pony racing ranks – making a victorious debut aboard Crystal at Balcormo Mains in 2006.

“Pony racing was a huge help to me,” he continued, “it taught me the race day procedures – even simple things such as weighing in and out – and the importance of a good start.”

His first ride in a point-to-point came in December 2011 at Alnwick on Silk and Roses, sporting the well-known silks of his grandfather Billy – who trained top chaser Earls Brig. The same horse was to give him his first point-to-point winner, at Overton in March 2012.

He attributes his first men’s championship title to “riding nice horses for supportive people.

“They provided me with my winners, and I have been very lucky and fortunate,” he modestly added.

Success has proved a family affair – Tom’s mother, Wendy, has saddled seven winners this term, and was responsible for the Area’s champion horse, Cave Hunter. Tom’s elder brother Jamie – winner of last year’s Aintree Foxhunters on 100-1 chance Tartan Snow – is currently based with Hereford trainer Venetia Williams, while his sister, Hollie, is also an important part of the Hamilton team.

“My family has given me great support which I appreciate. Jamie and I are often riding against each other, so obviously we are competitive, but it’s good to see him have success,” says Tom.

Both brothers were in action at Aintree this year – Tom riding Douglas Julian for Galashiels trainer Katie Scott.

“I had a great spin around Aintree – it was unforgettable and a great experience,” enthused Tom, who will spend the next two months riding out at Richard Fahey’s Malton stable.

Tom, who has also posted six successes on the course, including one Flat, currently plans to continue as an amateur.

Political Paddy, trained by Selkirk permit-holder Rayson Nixon, was Tom’s first ride on the course, at Perth in April 2013, while he secured his first win at Wetherby in May 2013 riding Habbie Simpson, trained by Lauder’s Julia Furness.

Champion jockey A. P. McCoy is his racing idol.

“His determination to win is incredible,” he added.

Tom is quick to recognise the benefits of point-to-point racing. “It has given me a good grounding and introduction to race riding and built up some good contacts,” he says.

It is testament to Tom’s undeniable talent that he has attracted an agent, and sponsorship.

“I am on Bruce Jeffrey’s books, and it has been great to get more rides under Rules through Bruce, who is very supportive,” continued Tom.

“DBS (Doncaster Bloodstock Sales), who sponsor me, have been a great help and I appreciate the sponsorship both on the track and in point-to-points.”

Asked if superstitious, Tom admits, “I am very superstitious – at the races I have to put my right boot on first and also touch wood an even number of times.”

Tom’s achievement will be recognised at the Northern Area awards dinner at the Buccleuch Hotel, St Boswells, on September 13.