With The European flat season now fully under way, attention inevitably focuses on the top young horses set to take their places in history. What of the young jockeys though, looking to hit the big time in 2016? The ten listed below dominated the UK Apprentice Championship last year and all will be fired-up and ready to make their mark in the coming campaign.
Being a young jockey is not easy. They need rides to get winners and they are rarely easy to come by. The media tends to focus on the established names and it’s tough for rookies to get the profile and recognition they deserve.
All of these young riders are blessed with tremendous talent. One or two may well become household names, over the next few years, so remember where you read about them first!
Top trainer Richard Hannon is not one to hand out praise too quickly, so when he says that Tom Marquand is a future champion the racing industry is forced to take notice. He rode 68 winners during his first season in England, enough to see him crowned as Champion Apprentice.
With the likes of Kieran Shoemark and Oisin Murphy on hand to give advice and support, the future looks bright for Marquand who has already won several times in 2016.
His first came on Toriano, who beat Quebee by a neck at Kempton. He won a small-field encounter at Leicester on heavy ground, before returning to Kempton and rewarding punters who backed him with a 14/1 winner (Jodie’s Jem). More recent winners have included Secret Millionaire (14/1), Distant High (15/2), Gunman (12/1) and Tomily (4/11).
Marquand already has the look and presence of a top jockey and he should be around for many years to come.
2015 was a whirlwind season for Jack Garritty, who pushed Tom Marquand all the way in the Apprentice Jockeys Championship.
His 52 victories came in just 341 races (Marquand had over a hundred more rides). Garritty finished the season as top apprentice earner, nabbing over three-quarters of a million pounds for connections.
Along the way, he picked up an 18-day ban for excessive use of the whip and lost his apprentice claim after completing a York treble. Garritty also won a G3 encounter on Eastern Impact and was also twice victorious in Listed company.
It’s never easy, following in the footsteps of a famous father, but Garritty looks more than capable of stepping outside of Russ’s shadow and a big season beckons.
A former All-Ireland Pony Riding Champion, Shane Gray bagged 33 winners in his 2015 apprentice championship campaign and rode 65 winners in total over the full 12 months of 2015.
His brother Stephen won the 2009 Galway Hurdle on Bahrain Storm, but Shane is starting to forge a name for himself and he has already taken a major scalp in 2016.
His smart ride aboard the unfancied Frosty Berry led to an incredible defeat of the mighty Clever Cookie, in the Listed Further Flight Stakes. It was the 5th time that the partnership had proved fruitful, in just 6 outings.
This should be the season that Gray starts to get the credit he deserves. He seems to relish the big occasion, having also ridden winners for Godolphin and Qatar Racing. He’s recently scored with both Kelinni and Therthaar, the latter winning at 7/1. On May 1st, he partnered Nonagon, a 10/1 winner. Definitely one to watch.
If any young jockey is due a bit of luck in 2016, it’s probably Cam Hardie.
The 19-year-old rode 56 winners, as an apprentice in 2014. That tally would usually have been enough to secure the Championship, but he was unfortunate to be up against the mercurial talents of Oisin Murphy and just fell short.
Hardie was a major challenger for the 2015 title, before losing his claim following victory on Rum Swizzle at Lingfield in August. Winners (understandably) were harder to come by, in the remainder of the season, but he still picked up 6 more when taking on the top pros on level terms.
He enjoyed his first black-type success in the 2015 King Charles II Stakes and has now spent over 3 years working with Richard Hannon, who clearly sees his potential. Could 2016 be Hardie’s breakout campaign?
Edward Greatrex proved that he has the ability to compete in top company, when winning the Balmoral Handicap on the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Musaddas in October.
The performance capped off a terrific apprentice championship campaign, which saw Greatrex win 31 times in just 209 outings (36 from 247 over the full 12 months of 2015). A strike-rate of 15% and level stakes profit of +36.74 meant that the son of trainer Warren quickly became the punter’s friend last year.
They’ll certainly be hoping for more eye-catching performances from Greatrex, like when he led from pillar to post on Turnbury and grabbed the spoils in the Centrepoint Apprentice Handicap at odds of 12/1.
He also won a recent Windsor handicap, on Bazooka, at 16/1. Just last week, he was at it again – landing the spoils with Rayvin Black at Goodwood. A great future looks in store for him (and for the punters that follow this gifted young horseman).
Sammy Jo Bell
The movie-star good looks of Sammy Jo Bell tend to lead to the photographers, rather than the hacks, making a bee-line for her at racecourses.
Don’t be fooled though, as this is a serious competitor who has quickly toughened-up and become an extremely promising young jockey.
After leading The Girls team to a historic Shergar Cup win as well as winning the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle for leading rider to boot, she took the spoils 28 times on 24 horses in 2016. Bell was nominated for Jockey of the month in June, along with Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore.
Originally from Northern Ireland, she headed for Britain inspired by the success of both Hayley Turner and Cathy Gannon.
Sammy has already won 7 times, in the opening period of the new campaign. All have been at good prices, which have included some of the following winners, Bayan Kisirga 8/1, Arctic Feeling 5/1 and American Life 9/2 to name but a few.
She’ll be doing most of her work for Richard Fahey, in 2016. Sammy Jo will keep her feet firmly planted on the ground, as she looks to ride out her claim and then take her chances.
Representing the British Racing School in the 2015 Longines Future Racing Stars event was amongst the highlights of a busy campaign for Rob Hornby.
A graduate of the British Racing School, Hornby now earns his corn from Andrew Balding – a man well-known for getting the best out of young apprentices.
With 24 wins in 203 rides (and a strike-rate of 12%) during the championship campaign, Hornby was the scourge of bookmakers last season. Those who backed him in every race enjoyed a profit of +42.88 to level stakes. He went on to ride 41 winners in total from 350 rides over the 12 month period of 2015!
It looks like he means to go on as he left off, in 2016. Victories on Equally Fast (4/1 Lingfield), Haines (Kempton 9/2), Polar Kite (20/1 Lingfield) and Roxie Lot (12/1 Kempton) indicate that those looking to follow the money should chase this young man when he’s heading to a racecourse.
Richardson beat both Jack Garritty and Edward Greatrex to land the Haydock Apprentice Training Series Champion title in September, an honour that rewards riding skills, presentation and professionalism.
She’ll surely regard the 23 winners she rode during the championship (24 in total in 2015) as being more important though, along with the £187,627 she collected for connections in total prize-money.
The glamorous apprentice works under Michael Appleby, although she’s already ridden for Tim Easterby, Olly Williams and Philip Kirby in 2016.
Amongst her most memorable 2015 victories was her ride aboard Nigel Tinkler’s Thesme, where the partnership took the money in eye-catching fashion at York. Thesme made all, beating the highly-regarded Imtiyaaz in a top-quality apprentice handicap.
Those of you who backed her in every race showed a healthy profit, so keep an eye on her this year. She’s already steered Bossipop to a 12/1 win, at Ripon.
Highly rated by both fellow-jockeys and trainers, it’s apt that Louis Steward’s most famous victory to date came aboard Mutual Regard in the 2014 York Ebor.
It was an impressive ride, aboard the Johnny Murtagh-trained runner, but Steward does not come across as a young man happy to rest on his laurels.
He managed 22 wins in just 165 rides, during his 2015 championship campaign and those who like a bet will note that he finished the season slightly ahead to level stakes.
He’ll certainly be looking to get a higher number of races under his belt, this season. Steward has already had outings on both turf and all-weather surfaces. If he gets the rides, you would back him to be successful.
The former Hands and Heels Apprentice Championship winner has been riding from an early age, cutting his teeth in both show jumping and gymkhana events.
He now looks ready to mix it with the big boys.
Most of those watching Jay Kay make all to win at Ayr in July would have thought little of the routine win, but this was a red-letter day for jockey Joey Haynes who finally rode out his claim.
Karl Burke must know he’s uncovered another weighing-room gem, though. Haynes rode 21 winners in 2015, just making it into the top ten of the Apprentice Jockeys Championship and 38 winners in total in 2015.
Haynes’ skills at handling 2-year-olds are very much in evidence. His career record is 24 wins from 198 outings, with level stakes profits of +£24.72 (to £1 stakes). Remember that, the next time you check a race-card and see that he’s booked to ride a juvenile.
He already has 2016 winners to his name and it looks like Haynes wants to remain a friend to punters. Before winning with Daisy Bere (7/1) at Nottingham, he rode an 860/1 double on April 24th at Thirsk!
Now that’s talent!