An Interview with Ex-Jockey Mattie Batchelor
‘In my head, I’m thirty-five but I’m really forty-six,’ chuckles the ex-jockey. Chuckling and laughter is never far from Mattie Batchelor, let alone full blown hysterics. Since his retirement from race riding, the weighing room has been a quieter place without its resident comedian, entertainer and all-round joker.
‘Batch’ rode his first winner in a novices’ hurdle round Windsor on Nahrawali in November 1996. In a career that tallied up a total of over 300 winners, Batch’s high point was a Jewson Novices’ Chase winner at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005 on King Harald. He had considerable success on Carruthers, winning seven races together, including the Hennessy in 2011, and finishing fourth in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was implicit in the early career of top class chaser Coneygree, winning a Uttoxeter bumper in November 2011 and three hurdle races on the bounce, including two round Cheltenham. Batch rode in Norway, Sweden, Jersey and Guernsey but his affinity always remained with his local track of Plumpton, where he rode the majority of his winners.
By the end, winners and rides eventually fizzled out, cumulating in Batch’s final winner on the Neil Mulholland-trained Hidden Depths at Les Landes in Jersey in August 2022. Fourteen years apart, he won two Lesters for Jump for Ride of the Year, for his Festival-winning ride and in 2019 for giving Noble Glance a peach of a ride round Fontwell in the August. For a few years, Mattie slipped into his Wocket Woy persona – a series of lisping, slapstick videos that started as joking around on the gallops and ended up with hordes of social media fans and a line of merchandise.
Winning on King Harald at the '05 Cheltenham Festival
Photo Credit: Racing Post
Since retirement, Batch has been doing ‘many part time jobs’ including as a salesman, a glazier when ‘helping out a mate’, a presenter for Raceday TV and race day hosting, meaning racecourses won’t be quiet of The Batch’s rambunctious entertainment for much longer.
Batch was born and bred in Brighton and still lives there now. He has been with his partner Kara for eighteen years and they have a fourteen-year-old daughter, Elsie-Mae. They have inherited a dog called Callie and own two horses, which, Batch points out, belong to Klara and Elsie-Mae!
Did you have a horsey childhood?
No, I didn't – I actually didn't ride at all. I was a pure townie. I came in from school and then went straight out on the street to play on my bike and I loved playing football.
How did you get into racing?
I got into racing through family in Ireland. We’d spend time over there at Christmas and other holidays, and we were all bored one Saturday. My cousin knew someone who had a yard and we went pony trekking. It went on from there.
Which trainers have you worked for?
My first ever job at weekends was for Charlie Moore, father of Gary – they taught me to ride when I was fifteen. I then went there full time when I left school and continued to work there when Gary took over. I had my first ride for Charlie, then Gary gave me more rides.
Plumpton because it's sixteen minutes away and I can safely say that I've had the most of my winners round there.
It has to be Carruthers – he took me to places I never thought I'd go and I was lucky enough to ride him in a Gold Cup as well as winning a Hennessy. He was a good Saturday horse that ran in some very good races. I rode Coneygree in the early part of his career.
What were your best days in racing?
The Hennessy was great as it's such a prestigious this race; Carruthers won Grade 2s and was placed in Grade 1s. But King Harald's win at the Cheltenham Festival is the highlight.
How did the Wocket Woy videos come about?
It was by pure accident. We were mucking around on the gallop one morning. The horse we originally started with, Roy, was a strong horse but on one part of the gallop, he wasn't as strong so I said I could go up that bit with no hands. I was dared to do it – then we filmed it. Everything materialised from there.
Please sum up your time in racing:
I got paid to do a hobby. I felt like I hadn't had to work for over 20 years and I'm grateful for all the fantastic opportunities and all the places that racing took me. Some of those places were where a boy from Brighton could never dream of going to.
How did you know it was time to retire?
I had a hip replacement in the middle of February. If it wasn't for that I think I definitely would have carried on. I found it very hard to let go.
I had an opportunity to ride a horse for local trainer but I turned it down. I didn't want to go out there and be a fraud. I didn't feel like I'd be able to give it 110%. The horse won after that – I was pleased to see that and when it didn't frustrate me as I thought it might, I then knew it was the right decision. Not that the fire doesn't still burn really strongly for racing, I just felt I couldn't give it a ride it was worthy of getting.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to keep being involved in racing by getting more involved with speaking at the races. To keep making a living, I will have to keep up with my part time job as well as helping my mate out.
Favourite drink: Being teetotal for twenty years, I now do like a flavoured cider: an Old Mout Berries And Cherries.
Favourite meal: I do like my food. A gammon steak with eggs on top served with chips and peas.
Favourite snack: Toffifees.
Favourite holiday destination: My yearly golfing holiday with friends to Durbuy in Belgium.
Favourite music: I'm a bit old fashioned in that sense. I do love listening to absolute ‘80s – a great era.
Favourite night out: I’m actually reliving my youth. When all my mates were out clubbing, I missed out on that because I was dedicated to racing and teetotal. Now I love a good night out in Popworld in Brighton.