Wales Rugby League international winger Zoe Lewis has two sporting goals in 2021, to beat England again and to win a point-to-point steeplechase for the first time.
The 23-year old was in the first ever Wales Women’s rugby league squad in 2019 and scored a try in their 24-20 win over England Lions in St Helens.
Now, with the Welsh side hoping for a match against the full England side in the future, Lewis juggles her training alongside her day job, which contains her other sporting ambition.
“I work for Rob Stevens Racing in Penhow near to Chepstow,” she said. “I live in Treherbert which is 40 miles away, so doing everything that I do, I probably drive nearly 100 miles per day, six days a week. I see the Severn Bridge at the top of my gallop on his horses every day.
“I work there from 7am until 1pm. I then go and ride my own point-to-point horse in Ynysybwl. A few afternoons a week, I ride another horse for David Gibbs after that, muck out for him, go home for about 5pm, feed my horses at my yard in Trenewydd and muck any out that I need to. I then do fitness and rugby league training personally every evening, but I can’t wait until the gyms open again so I can go there, before eventually being back at Rhondda Outlaws.”
Lewis spent last summer’s lockdown keeping up her fitness for her rugby league, continuing to look after her own horses and even had time to deliver a foal for a friend.
She added: “He had a point-to-point mare that he valued quite a lot and was a good racehorse in her day. The foal was a few days late so I was up a few nights waiting for a call. She eventually fell down at 2.20am, two days before my birthday.”
Lewis is as new to horse-racing as she is to rugby league. She played rugby union for a season at Porth Harlequins, then another at Pontyclun Falcons, before discovering rugby league with Rhondda Outlaws. She played in both matches against Cardiff Blue Dragons in 2019, scoring a try in the second, before grabbing a brace for East Wales against West Wales, earning her selection to the full Wales side.
Now, after nearly a year of lock-down, she’s hoping to be back on the racetrack and the rugby field as soon as possible.
“Racing wise – they open next month,” she said. “So hopefully, fingers crossed, that’s when we’ll start point-to-point racing again.
“It was just last year that I started competitive race riding, as before that I didn’t have the horses to be able to do it. This year, I have a nice maiden horse that’ll hopefully give me my first point-to-point win, and that’s my goal for this year. Hopefully I’ll get my amateurs licence in the future, which will allow me to still point-to-point but also allow me to race against professionals.
“I own a maiden mare (a female horse that has never won a race) and I’ve just bought a youngster whose only 10 months old, that will hopefully race when she’s old enough.
“I think that when riding racehorses, you have to be fit too, so it helps with my rugby aspect, as I’m only 8 stone and I have to tell a 500kg animal with mind of its own its not to run any quicker!
“This year in rugby league, I just want to better myself from where I was in 2019. I just want to be a better version of myself each time I’m on the field or when I train. Getting back on the field is the main goal now though after we all missed a year.
“I think Women’s Rugby League in Wales will go quite far. There’s a lot of publicity around it and everyone seems to talk positively about it. In a couple of years time, I think we’ll be just as popular as men’s rugby league in Wales as we are getting a lot of media attention and more girls and getting interested in playing. Hopefully that’ll keep progressing and growing around Wales.”