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Celebrity stress busters

Richard Pitman has swapped horses for bicycles - and it's a weight off his mind

Mountain biking is my way of relieving stress and keeping fit. Having been a jockey for 15 years and wasted my body to nothing so I could ride at low weights, I exploded when I stopped riding. My wife, Mandy, suggested mountain biking as a way of getting fit. We do it as a family with our daughters, Tara and Gemma. On my back in a knapsack I carry Midge, our Yorkshire terrier.

We live 14 miles south-west of Oxford, where there is some lovely countryside. How far we ride depends on our mood and the weather. We may be out half an hour or half a day, stopping by a river and lifting the bikes over stiles.

I also play golf and read: I'm half-way through the complete works of Oscar Wilde at the moment. We recently bought a little cottage overlooking the harbour in Padstow in Cornwall, a good place to get away from the stresses of modern life.

But what I find really relaxing and good for relieving stress is riding racehorses. My son Mark is training at Lambourn, and my younger daughter Tara rides out for him. We rode out together at 6.30 on the morning of her recent English literature GCSE exam. The larks were singing and the sun was out as we rode two powerful, lovely horses at speed, and she came back completely relaxed and in the right mood to tackle the exam.

Richard Pitman is a former National Hunt jockey, broadcaster, thriller writer and stud owner. His latest book, 'The Third Degree', is available in paperback. He was talking to Pamela Coleman

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