The sport that saved me - Jockey’s return to the track in memory of tragic twin brother
When former amateur jockey Paul Jarvis settles himself in his stirrups this afternoon, he’ll be thinking of more than just his first race in seven years.
The 50-year-old from Sprowston is making a return to racing at Newmarket in memory of his twin brother David, who shared his love of the sport before he took his own life 25 years ago.
On Denis of Kerry, the horse he has bought for the occasion, Mr Jarvis is taking part in a charity race to raise more than £3,000 for sporting charity Racing Welfare – and say thank you to the sport that he says saved him.
After a decade away from the sport, Mr Jarvis returned to horse racing in the wake of David’s death as a way of dealing with his grief, and rekindling many of the treasured memories he had shared with his brother.
“Horses don’t ask anything from you – they just give it back without asking any questions,” said Mr Jarvis, of Woodside Road.
“I don’t think I would have got through it otherwise.”
To get himself ready for the race, Mr Jarvis has put himself through a tough training regime, including running up hills, as well as putting eight-year-old Denis of Kerry through his paces.
He said: “I just wanted to do something for him because we used to go racing together as a family years ago.
“We always used to get dragged to Fakenham, Newmarket, and Yarmouth, and I just had this crazy dream of doing something for my brother.”
Although he now rides regularly, the race at 1pm today will be his first competitive ride in seven years.
Christine Dunnett, race horse trainer and owner of the stables in Hingham where Denis of Kerry has been training, said she had been impressed at how the pair had tackled the challenge.
“Lots of people ride horses but to ride in a race is a completely different kettle of fish,” she said.
“It’s very hard and you do have to be very fit – and I’m sure Paul will probably have wobbly legs after the race anyway.”
Mr Jarvis will have friends and family, including his 10-year-old son Jack, watching him when he pulls on his racing silks today – but said will be thinking only of his brother.
“Just to be there on the starting wire I will be on cloud nine,” he said.
“I just hope my brother, wherever he is, is smiling down on me and saying ‘Go on, give it your best’.
“And if I win, I will be delighted. I’ll be thinking that I’m still dreaming.”
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