Teenager told he was too small to be a footballer makes debut in the saddle
A teenager left broken-hearted after being told he was too small to make the grade as a footballer makes his debut as a jockey at Wolverhampton on Wednesday night.
Jamie Parkes, 18, left Notts County three years ago and enrolled at the Northern Racing College, near Doncaster, after being encouraged to pursue a career in the saddle by the Midlands club’s academy boss Mick Leonard.
After graduating from the Northern Racing College, Parkes spent time with Mick Appleby prior to joining Martyn Meade’s Newmarket stable.
And the culmination of his journey comes on Wednesday when he partners Sociologist for Meade in a 1m1f handicap (8.45).
“It was a dream to come to the heart of racing at Newmarket, and Martyn has been brilliant to me,” said Parkes on Tuesday.
“He got my licence out for me and is giving me my first ride. I’d be hopeful more than confident Sociologist can win, but I’m excited. I can’t wait to get to Wolverhampton.”
Parkes added: “Martyn moves to Manton in a fortnight’s time, and I’m going too. It’s exciting times for the stable and for me.
“I’d like to think that, in a couple of years’ time, I’ll be gradually riding through my claim and gaining a good reputation.”
Parkes admits to being devastated when he was told he had no future as a professional footballer.
“Football was my life, it broke my heart,” he said. “I was sceptical about being a jockey at first. I didn’t sit on a horse until I was 16, but now I love it and I'm really looking forward to making a career in racing.”
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com