Ashforth’s Angles: A tip for apprentices

Richard Hughes gives plenty of opportunities to apprentice jockeys

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Ashforth's Angles: A tip for apprentices By David Ashforth 5:00PM 8 NOV 2016

HAVE you heard of Finley Marsh? I hadn’t either but when Wednesday’s last jump race is over the next race, a Class 7 handicap at Kempton (4.25), will be a memorable one for Marsh.

Last year he was honoured as the best male trainee at the British Racing School and now, aged 17, Marsh has his first ride in public.

Looking back, jockeys often say that their first race ride seemed to go in a flash and as Marsh’s first ride is over five furlongs we can be pretty certain that Presto Boy will feel to be going pretty presto, too.

Richard Hughes, Marsh’s boss and the owner as well as trainer of Presto Boy, clearly thinks that the four-year-old is a good ride for inexperienced apprentices because this year Stephanie Joannides, Stephen Cummins, Nicola Currie and David Egan have all had a go.

None have managed to win but neither have any of the other riders to partner the 25-race maiden.

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Hughes has shown that he is willing to give apprentices a chance. Marsh will be the tenth to ride for him this year, which is far more than larger yards.

It has always been the case that the biggest and most successful Flat yards are generally not the best place to be for apprentices anxious to get rides. This year John Gosden has run 194 horses a total of 566 times and used 24 different riders but only three rides have gone to apprentices, two to Kieran Shoemark and one to Tom Marquand.

Sir Michael Stoute is another leading trainer who rarely resorts to apprentices. Stoute has raced 138 horses a total of 491 times and used 35 jockeys but only nine rides have gone to apprentices, seven to Josephine Gordon and one each to Tom Marquand and Kevin Stott.

It’s not the homes of the big guns but those of frequently fired little ones that offer the best opportunities for inexperienced apprentices.

David Evans has fewer, mainly less able horses than the elite trainers but they race more often and are regularly ridden by apprentices.
This year Evans has run 97 horses a total of 639 times. John Egan and Adam Kirby top the list of riders but it is a list which includes 66 other names, among them over 20 apprentices.

Former Flat types take flight

Presto Boy is unlikely to be faced with hurdles unless they introduce hurdle races over one mile but this is the time of year when many horses graduate or are relegated to jump racing.

Some horses modest on the Flat prove brilliant at hurdling – the bonny Champion Hurdle winner Make A Stand, a favourite of mine, springs to mind – but which ones.

At Bangor (2.25) we have the chance to see how Hubertas, winner of the Amateur Derby at Epsom in August and rated 89 on the Flat, reacts to being in mid-air. An hour later (3.30) Alan King has another opportunity to display his winning knack with juvenile hurdlers; this time in the shape of The Otmoor Poet.

Meanwhile, good luck to Finley Marsh.

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