Friday 18 January 2019

Changing of guard slowly coming in weighroom

Look at the leading jockeys in Ireland and England last year, Tony McCoy, Jason Maguire, Richard Johnson, Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell and on the Flat you would have Pat Smullen, Johnny Murtagh, Joseph O'Brien, Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes.

Only one of that list is younger than his mid 30s and that is Joseph O'Brien who arguably has the best job of the lot and while all (apart from the retired Murtagh and the currently injured Maguire and Walsh) are still booting in the winners at the very top level, there is certainly a changing of the guard coming slowly over the horizon. Look at Paul Nicholls turning to Sam Twiston-Davies, who in his early 20s is now riding as number one to the champion trainer across the pond.


Last year, Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud operation opted to replace Russell with 21-year-old Bryan Cooper and more recently again we have had Ger Lyons appoint 19-year-old Colin Keane as his stable jockey to a yard that is becoming increasingly powerful.

And just this week it was announced that 18-year-old Johnny Burke would ride as Alan and Ann Potts' retained jockey for the upcoming season, which includes the ride on all their horses with Henry de Bromhead and Jim Dreaper, and Burke is still a five-pound claimer.

The older lads at the top are certainly still riding as well as ever, to which McCoy and Smullen are testament, but the emerging group of classy youngsters making their name in the sport are all being snapped up rapidly. Although Lyons and Potts have probably taken the bigger gambles in their appointments, you can be sure that Messrs Keane and Burke won't let them down too often.

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