Five claimers to look out for this all-weather winter and through 2019
With many senior Flat jockeys plying their trade overseas at this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities for apprentices on the all-weather. Bruce Jackson speaks to some of those bidding to make the most of any extra chances that come their way . . .
Yard Archie Watson
The decision to follow his twin brother Ed on to the Flat after riding 17 winners over jumps has proved an inspired move for the son of trainer Warren Greatrex, a former jump jockey himself.
Just as important has been the link-up with trainer Archie Watson, who has burst through the 100-winner mark this year and has provided Greatrex with four of his nine Flat winners since his career move.
“My weight got good and I decided to give it a go on the Flat,” said Greatrex, who had success in pony racing. “It took a few rides to get used to Flat racing and Ed has been a big help, as well as mum and dad, who have been brilliant.
“It’s great to be with an up-and-coming yard and I’ve been lucky with outside rides – Kevin Ryan has been good to me – and my agent Gavin Horne is doing a great job.”
Greatrex will be riding through the winter on the all-weather and said: “I’m not setting targets but want to ride as many winners as I can."
Yard Robert Cowell
The day any apprentice rides out his claim by reaching 95 career wins is memorable and that is what is most immediately on Eoin Walsh's mind after he was told his career could be over last year.
Walsh was trampled on in a fall at Wolverhampton in February. His broken arm sidelined him for seven months, stopping him in his tracks after starting the year on the up.
"They weren't sure if I would ride again as they were worried I'd lose feeling in my arm," said Walsh, who has proved them wrong with 18 winners this year and a have-saddle will-travel mentality that has brought three winners from a handful of rides at Newcastle.
The son of an Irish politician started in racing with Dermot Weld before moving to Britain and striking up a successful association with David Evans, and also Tony Newcombe.
A move to Mark Loughnane did not work out but relocating to Newmarket and joining Robert Cowell last year has resurrected his promising career, which brought a personal-best 21 winners four years ago.
Racing Post readers have certainly given Walsh a thumbs up, voting his effort on Storm Lightning at Wolverhampton on September 22 Flat Ride of the Year, for which he won a prestigious award at the Lesters last weekend.
Yard Michael Dods
A move to Michael Dods in March has brought an upturn in fortunes for Muir, who started the year with a target of riding out her 7lb claim after two single-figure seasons.
“It’s the best move I’ve made, going to Michael,” said Muir, who has ridden 22 winners in 2018. “I’ve exceeded my aim for this year, I’ve improved a vast amount and have got confidence in myself.
“Paul Mulrennan, Callum Rodriguez, Andrew Mullen and others in the weighing room always help me if I think I have done anything wrong – it helps your mindset.”
Muir, originally from Carluke, where Keith Dalgleish trains, is following the likes of Rodriguez and Connor Beasley in being guided upwards through their apprenticeship by Dods.
She has trainer Ian Semple to thank for starting her off when working weekends with him, impressing the trainer enough with her work ethic to send her to the Northern Racing School.
Muir, who spent last winter at Santa Anita with Patrick Gallagher, might not be seen as much on the all-weather in the new year as Dods is keen to protect her claim into the turf season.
Then the hope is Muir can follow the lead of the likes of Hayley Turner, Josephine Gordon, Nicola Currie and Hollie Doyle in making a name for herself.
Yard Jane Chapple-Hyam
The backing of Jane Chapple-Hyam and a move to Newmarket has seen a rise in fortune for Ray Dawson, in the sense that the last five months have all been winning ones to a level stake.
That is a long way removed from an unhappy time which saw him go out of racing for four years having started with Charles O’Brien, who gave him half of his 14 winners in Ireland.
“I couldn’t be happier, it’s going so well and my agent Simon Dods is doing a great job getting me a lot of support,” said Dawson, referring to getting rides for the likes of Hugo Palmer, Marco Botti and Mark Tompkins this year.
As to his past, Dawson added: “I went back to college for four years and hated it, and didn’t know what to do with myself. I said I’d give it another go and went to Malton first but came down to Newmarket and got my licence with Jane in August.
“I’ve gone six or seven weeks without a winner in the past so know what can happen, but I’m getting plenty of rides and will keep going, working hard and see what happens.”
Yard Robert Eddery
Another Newmarket-based apprentice who has been catching the eye, not least with his 150-1 success on The Meter at Chelmsford two months ago which keeps up his record of showing a profit to level stakes for punters in his first three years.
“I rode my first winner only two years ago [from three rides] after getting offered a job with John Butler and came straight over,” said the teenager from County Sligo.
A move to Robert Eddery and support from fellow Newmarket trainers, including Alan Bailey, John Ryan and Phil McEntee, has seen him more than double his first full season’s score of eight.
“If I could double the winners again next year then I’d be delighted,” added Keenan, who has ridden 11 of his 23 winners this year in the last three months.
Keenan rode ponies from an early age in Ireland and was riding out when he was 12, before getting his licence after a four-week course at the British Racing School in Newmarket.
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