Mitchell deserves rich pickings as the rides come thick and fast
There is something quite satisfying when someone who has slogged away for years suddenly starts receiving well-deserved success, and Jack Mitchell, it seems, has become something of an overnight sensation and is now everyone’s favourite second jockey.
At Salisbury, where he rode a four-timer recently, it was essentially the Jack Mitchell show. Last month was his busiest yet for rides, his 27 winners this season put him in the top 10 and have come at a better strike rate even than Oisin Murphy, while the programme book, in its current Covid-19 edition, means he gets to see much more of his wife and children.
During Royal Ascot, Mitchell was cited (not by himself, I might add) as an example of a jockey who was not going to be done many favours by the restriction on jockeys riding at only one meeting a day. He could have had his one ride at Ascot and then gone for five at Windsor.
But the system, whereby the stable No 1 jockey cannot do two meetings, is clearly playing in his favour and getting him on some better horses. At Salisbury, he went to ride one in his role as second jockey for Roger Varian but also picked up winners for Tom Clover, Charlie Hills and Richard Hannon.
On Saturday, he had his first ride and winner for David O’Meara at York and, as long as the system remains, the days of riding work, going off to ride at two meetings and not seeing the children for three days on the trot are over, to the benefit of everyone.
Mitchell is certainly bred for the job. His father, Philip, was amateur champion on the Flat five times and, I dare say, for anyone who ever had more than 100 rides, the best strike rate there has ever been (137 rides, 65 winners).
Jack was riding the horses back from the gallops in Epsom aged 10 and riding work by the age of 12. His first big winner was in the Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia.
At school and then at club level he was a talented and “gobby” scrum-half, which went well until the men he was playing against developed beards and grew to the size of mid-range trucks while he weighed in at a boyish 7st 10lb wet through.
After following his father into the amateur jockey ranks, he served his apprenticeship with Chris Wall.
He then went to the late Michael Jarvis, where Varian was assistant, and has been there pretty much ever since, except for seven months “freshening up” in Lambourn after a quiet spell and a run of injuries in 2013.
Busier but less busy; it is working for Mitchell.