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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Aintree native hoping for biggest thrill on Wychwoods Brook

Wychwoods Brook: soft ground would suit 11-year-old
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The horse

Wychwoods Brook

The race

32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase (3.00 Sandown)

The story

When you grow up a stone's throw from Aintree, you're in a decent position to be bitten by the racing bug. That was the case for conditional James Nixon, who is set for the biggest spin of his career aboard Wychwoods Brook in this £100,000 contest live on ITV4.

A graduate of Doncaster's Racing College, Nixon started in Lambourn with Nicky Henderson, looking after Punchestowns and riding Bobs Worth most of the time.

Then with Henderson's former assistant Tom Symonds, he also had a spell in Australia, and worked for leading Newmarket trainers James Fanshawe and William Haggas, before linking up with Wychwoods Brook's trainer Harry Whittington in July.

Whittington, based on the outskirts of Lambourn, likes to use the sidelined Gavin Sheehan when available, but Nixon's 7lb claim meant he was always likely to partner the 11-year-old, a winner at Taunton on heavy ground this time last year.

Nixon, 24, switched from being an amateur just before Christmas and reckons any rain would boost his mount's chances.

He says

I'm full time at Harry's and hoping for as many rides and as many winners as I can get, and see where that takes me. Obviously, every jockey's ambition is to be champion, but I'm a long, long way from that. I'm not young, so I've got only 18 months before I can't use my claim and Harry said he'll try to give me as many rides and winners as he can before then.

Growing up I looked up to John Francome, AP McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald, but now I look up to people who didn't come from racing backgrounds, like David Bass, so I'll give it my best shot, like they have.

I had a ride at Sandown in a Channel 4 race on Imperial Cup day one year, but it was only a small handicap and this is definitely the biggest race of my career.

I schooled Wychwoods Brook on Thursday and he jumped really well. I don't ride him regularly, but his lad tells me he's in flying form and great order. We're just hoping for a drop of rain.

I don't ride him regularly, but his lad tells me he's in flying form and great order. We're just hoping for a drop of rain. This is definitely the biggest race of my career
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