Jamie Spencer joins list of top 20 Flat jockeys in Britain of all time
David Simcock led the tributes to Jamie Spencer after success on the stable's Late Change at Yarmouth on Wednesday evening propelled the Irishman into elite company in the top 20 most successful British-based riders of all time.
Simcock, whose relationship with Spencer stretches back to when he arrived in Newmarket to assist Luca Cumani, said: "Jamie is arguably brighter than most jockeys and he rides with his brain. He's just as good from the front as he is from behind. Nine times out of ten he rides my horses just as I want them ridden and he knows that there's always another day if they aren't going as they should. It's not all about now, and that's so important for the horse's wellbeing and the longevity of its career."
He added: "He's a good friend and we work very well together. He works far harder than many people imagine and he never lets you down. He's in three mornings a week and what he tells you from what they do at home can be as important as what he does on the track."
Spencer was recording his 2,069th winner in his adopted nation, and with it he edged Billy Nevett out of the top 20. He joins Frankie Dettori, Joe Fanning and Ryan Moore as those still riding in the top 20, which features legends such as Sir Gordon Richards, Fred Archer, Pat Eddery, Lester Piggott and Willie Carson.
The select club also includes Joe Mercer, Kieren Fallon and Richard Hughes.
Spencer played down his achievement, but admitted it was "nice" to join such an illustrious group. He said: "When I got to 2,000, I didn't know about it until the day before, so it's not something I pay a lot of attention to as it's just another number really.
"That said, it's a nice feeling to reach these various milestones and hopefully I can add a few more winners before it's all done."
Spencer's achievement is the latest landmark in a stellar career of one of the weighing room's most naturally gifted operators, who became something of an overnight sensation when winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas on Tarascon at the tender age of 17 in 1998.
A champion jockey on both sides of the Irish Sea whose father George trained 1963 Champion Hurdle hero Winning Fair, he won the St Leger on Brian Boru and steered Sariska to victory in the Oaks six years later, adding the Irish equivalent to his CV on the filly as well.
His Royal Ascot haul includes a Gold Cup on Fame And Glory in 2011, while top-flight success overseas has come in the United States, UAE, France, Australia, Germany, Singapore and Canada.
The 38-year-old has inevitably had the odd bump on the career road and in 2014 he shocked the sport when announcing he would retire at the end of that year, only to perform a u-turn four months later.
Top 20 jockeys by Flat wins in UK
|Sir Gordon Richards||4870||1921/1954|
Who was Billy Nevett?
Billy Nevett was a great Yorkshire-based jockey whose 2,068 victories between 1924 and 1956 included three in the Derby, writes John Randall.
On his retirement he ranked fourth behind Sir Gordon Richards, Fred Archer and George Fordham among Britain's winningmost Flat jockeys. Jamie Spencer has now pushed him down to 21st place.
Lancashire-born Nevett rode for the Peacock family at Middleham throughout his career. He was the perennial leading jockey in the north and, although never champion, was runner-up six times to Richards in the jockeys' table.
His Derby victories all came in wartime substitute races at Newmarket – on Owen Tudor (1941), Ocean Swell (1944) and Dante (1945).
Trained by Matt Peacock, Dante was the best horse he ever rode. The colt was a champion in both his seasons and was beaten only once in his career.
Nevett's other British Classic winner was Masaka (1948 Oaks) and he enjoyed his best season numerically with 136 wins in 1947. He trained briefly with little success and died in 1992, aged 86.
Jamie is a very intelligent jockey, and very astute in his analysis of races. He's a very patient jockey too and horses run very well for him. It can frustrate at times when he appears to give one too much to do, but nine times out of ten he's correct in what he does. His reporting back is particularly good too.
Jamie is a natural horseman and a deep thinker. When he pulls one out of the fire it's a spectacular sight. The one that sticks in my memory is his ride on Red Evie when she beat the colts in the Lockinge. That was a textbook Spencer ride – Jamie at his very best. It's a feather in his cap that he's been champion jockey on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Jamie is a horseman and he sees the bigger picture. Punters might not always like it, but trainers do. He's not afraid to get beat. A lot of people slag him when he holds horses up, but he makes them run better than they should. He's got a neck like a rhino, but you need it in this game. He's intelligent and knows what he's got under him. He has good hands too, and if you have a nice big backward two-year-old you know you will still have a horse after he's ridden it.
This latest milestone confirms Jamie Spencer as much more than a waiting race rider, but a charity trip with him to an Aids clinic in a shanty town near Lusaka showed there was more to him than the jockey. For after he had won the 2007 Stewards Cup on Zidane with one of the most controlled pieces of last-gasp daring you will ever see he remembered where he had been exactly a year before. "It was a great trip," he said about Africa rather than Goodwood. "It made me think."
JAMIE SPENCER CV
Full name James Peter Spencer
Born June 8, 1980
Apprenticed to Liam Browne, Curragh, Co Kildare
First winner Huncheon Chance, Downpatrick, May 11, 1996
First Group winner Tarascon (1998 Irish 1,000 Guineas)
First winner in Britain Sharp Scotch, Wolverhampton, November 21, 1998
British Classic winners Brian Boru (2003 St Leger), Sariska (2009 Oaks)
Other Classic winners Tarascon (1998 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Gossamer (2002 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Sariska (2009 Irish Oaks), Just The Judge (2013 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Toast Of New York (2014 UAE Derby)
Most prolific Group/Grade 1 winners David Junior (2005 Champion Stakes, 2006 Dubai Duty Free, Eclipse Stakes), Cape Blanco (2011 Man o' War Stakes, Arlington Million, Turf Classic)
St James's Palace Stakes winner Excellent Art (2007)
Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory (2011)
Nunthorpe Stakes winner Kyllachy (2002)
Prix de l'Abbaye winner Desert Lord (2006)
Prix du Moulin winner Excelebration (2011)
Cheltenham Festival winner Pizarro (2002 Champion Bumper)
Placed mount in the Derby Moon Ballad (3rd, 2002)
Top-rated mount Excelebration (RPR 129 when 2nd to Frankel, 2011 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes)
Champion apprentice in Ireland 1999
Champion jockey in Ireland 2004
Champion jockey in Britain 2005, 2007 (joint)
Most wins in a year in Britain 207 (2007)
Compiled by John Randall
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