Three up-and-coming National Hunt Jockeys you should have on your radar…
This National Hunt season is going to be different.
One man has dominated the Champion Jockey standings for the past 20 seasons.
That man was AP McCoy.
That man no longer rides racehorses for a living. (He instead writes books called Narrowing The Field! Dunno where he got that name from?!?)
It’s going to be strange for us all not seeing him booting home winner after winning, riding above and beyond the pain barrier of most normal human beings and coasting his way to yet another Jockey’s Championship.
At this stage last season AP McCoy had already ridden 130 winners. ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY!
To put that into a bit of context, by the END of last season only three other jockeys had ridden more than 130 winners! (For the record those three were Dickie Johnson, Tom Scu and STD)
That is the size of the gaping hole AP McCoy leaves in our sport. That is the gigantic level of the bar the great man has set for everyone else.
Richard Johnson, of course, was the man that finished runner-up to McCoy for a great many of those 20 Jockey Championships and with AP now FINALLY out of the way the door is surely open for him to walk through a claim the prize he has so longed for.
And in fairness to Johnson he is getting a fair old scoot on. He has graced the winners enclosure no less than 78 times already this season and sits a handy 27 winners ahead of his nearest challenger Aidan Coleman. This time last year Johnson had managed 53 winners so there’s no denying he’s doing what he needs to do and getting a hefty early lead on the board.
As interesting as the top of jockey tree is, however, today I want to concentrate on the other end of the spectrum. Those jockeys that are at the beginning of their careers. The ones who, at present, can only dream of firing in season end totals that the likes of McCoy, Johnson, Scudamore and STD have produced.
Today I’m looking at three conditional jockeys who I think can make a big impact in forthcoming seasons.
Spotting jockey’s at the start of their career can be a profitable pastime. Especially if you think that jockey is well worth his claim. The wider betting public will often be put off, rightly or wrongly, by a jockey they don’t know or are not overly familiar with. The upside of that for us shrewd punters is that the horse being ridden by the young jockey we earmarked will often go off at a couple points higher than it should; giving us that wonderful position of a value price.
So, which three young jockeys have caught my eye?
Let’s start with one who will be picking up plenty of pointers from Champion Jockey elect Richard Johnson…
Current claim – 7lbs
Attached to the Philip Hobbs yard
Overall figures (since 2013) – 13/136 | 10% S/R – Win & Place 38/136 | 28% S/R
Ciaran Gethings stamped himself as a young jockey to take note of when partnering the Philip Hobbs’ trainer WAR SOUND to a comfortable success in the first major race of this season, the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock, back in May.
That was actually his first race since turning conditional and came off the back of a solid 2014/15 season as an amateur where he rode an impressive ten winners from 78 rides (13% S/R).
That victory on the imposing War Sound was the fourth time the pair had teamed up together and the third time they had been victorious, the other time they finished a 7L 10th in a handicap hurdle at the Aintree Festival. By all accounts the horse isn’t the easiest to handle, Richard Johnson certainly struggled with him at Exeter on his second start, but Gethings certainly seems to have control of him and to date they have been a potent combination.
It was actually another Hobbs horse – WOODFORD COUNTY – where the young jockey first caught my attention, and specifically his post race comments. Gethings rode the horse to victory at Newbury last November, his first win under rules in fact, and after the race he had this to say…
“That´s my first winner under rules. I took my time today because the ground is testing. I was always confident of picking up the leader”
That told me there was a more than decent racing brain inside the young man’s head. A decent and confident racing brain, and that’s good to see. He had clearly analysed thing’s pre-race and then adjusted and modified things during the race, making sure his mount had enough petrol left in the tank to see the race out in the testing conditions.
That, however, isn’t the only time he has shone on ground that’s riding testing. Using my Proform database I had a look to see his record on ground that was riding Soft or Heavy (that’s Proform’s adjusted going descriptions – when the times suggested it was Soft/Heavy rather than the official going) and the following figures were returned…
9/40 | 23%% S/R | +£112.78 BFLSP (76% above expectation)
That’s pretty impressive to say the least.
Granted his 7lb claim will have been handy in such conditions but that would be a massive disservice to the jockey to say that’s all it was. He’s clearly confident in such conditions, knows how to read a race and you simply don’t fluke a 23% strike-rate when it’s testing conditions.
He’s sure to pick up plenty of rides from Hobbs this term, and he’s sure to learn plenty from the likes of Richard Johnson in the process, but he’s also picking up a number of rides from other yards and so far this term he’s been used by 17 other trainers, including the likes of Gordon Elliott, Kim Bailey, Victor Dartnall and Anthony Honeyball.
With the power of Hobbs behind him and a hefty line of other yards willing to use him it really isn’t hard to see him at least doubling his last season tally of ten winners.
Current claim – 7lbs
Attached to the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard
Overall figures (since 2013) – 17/184 | 9% S/R – Win & Place 46/184 | 25% S/R
Jamie Bargary burst onto the scene on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham when steering the well-supported SPLASH OF GINGE to victory in the feature handicap chase. He was actually a last-minute replacement that day as the horse’s proposed pilot, Ryan Hatch, was injured in the previous race. Bargary, however, didn’t let that worry him and he gave SOG an exemplary ride, keeping him prominent throughout and pressing the button at just the right time to ask the horse to go on and win.
That win was one of 12 that the young jockey tallied up last term, nine of them coming for his boss Nigel Twiston-Davies.
It’s not just NTD, however, that Bargary has been riding winners for as since January this year he has been picking up a fair number of rides for Micky Hammond. In the past nine months he has ridden five winners from 23 starts (22% S/R) for the North Yorkshire based trainer and the young jockey seems to get on well with the trainer’s horses.
His skills have also caught the attention of the likes of David Dennis, Tom George, Charlie Longsdon, Colin Tizzard and David Pipe, to name but a few.
On the stats front I’m impressed by his ability to converted the fancied runners he rides.
To date his figures on his mounts that start in the top two in the market read…
11/42 | 26% S/R | +£7.81 BFSP – Win & Place 20/42 | 48% S/R
A fancied runner comes with a certain level of pressure/expectation but the figures suggest that doesn’t faze young Bargary one little bit and he clearly has a calm head on top his young conditional shoulders.
So far this term he has already banged in four winners and it would be a serious shock should he not romp past his seasonal tally of 12 winners from last season, especially with the power of the NTD yard firmly behind him.
Current claim – 5lbs
Attached to the James Ewart yard
Overall figures (since 2012) – 24/160 | 15% S/R – Win & Place 48/160 | 30% S/R
Dale Irving had been ticking away at James Ewart’s for a couple of season already (3 winners in 12/13 – 5 winners 13/14) before smashing in a hefty 15 winners last term, 12 of them coming for his boss Ewart.
Irving has in fact been a long-term member of the Ewart team, first making an appearance at the yard as a 12-year-old before joining them full-time in 2010. Ewart then used his own experience and connections to give the young jockey a kick start by sending him to the yards of Guillaume Macaire (French Champion Jumps Trainer), Richard Fahey and Jim Goldie.
The experiences gained whilst ‘on loan’ at those other yards paid off handsomely last term and he fired at an extremely healthy 24% for his main employer.
Irving is another young man that seems to relish riding fancied horses and to date can very much be relied upon to get them home in front.
His record when riding horses that start in the top three of the betting reads…
21/69 | 30% S/R | +£32.55 BFSP – Win & Place 36/69 | 52% S/R
Like Bargary he isn’t phased by his horse’s starting price and that’s a fantastic trait to have; don’t believe the hype and just get the job done.
He has also shown a strong ability to gun a horse from the front and keep it there, as his record on front-running horses testifies…
10/32 | 31% S/R | +£26.56 BFSP – Win & Place – 15/32 | 47% S/R
He does, however, need to brush up on his hold-up skills as his record on horses he drops out the back does let him down a bit…
1/45 | 2% S/R | -£37.16 BFSP – Win & Place 6/45 | 13% S/R
That, I’m sure, will come with experience, as he refines his talents and hones his skills.
Ewart and Irving both look to have the determination, skill and talent to continue making an impact in the National Hunt sphere and I have no doubt the duo will once again bang in a hefty haul of winners during the coming months.
I don’t expect this trio to be regularly gracing the winners enclosures at the major meetings just yet but they should more than pay their way at the lower levels as they make steady progress up the National Hunt jockeys ladder, making strong and steady progress through the ranks whilst all the time counting down the winners until their claim is consigned to the history books.
What do you guys think?
Have any young jockeys outwith the top echelon captured your attention?
Which claiming jockey do you think will make the biggest splash this term?
I’d love to here your thoughts and opinions.
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*Figures sourced from the excellent Proform Database