Jock­eys to watch We talk to three young riders with high hopes for this sea­son

Mar­cus Army­tage talks to three young jock­eys, who have re­cently turned pro­fes­sional, about their hopes this sea­son

Horse & Hound - - News -

JAMES BOWEN 16yo, 7lb claimer with Nicky hen­der­son

THE name Bowen needs no in­tro­duc­tion, even less so in Wales. James’ fa­ther, Peter, trains in Pem­brokeshire and older brother Sean is al­ready well es­tab­lished as a jump jockey.

His other brother Mickey sup­plied him “with so many steer­ing jobs” when he started, that his 30 point-to-point win­ners since his 16th birth­day in March came at a stag­ger­ing strik­er­ate of 55%.

Home-schooled since the age of 14, James rode 80 win­ners on the pony rac­ing cir­cuit and was only ever go­ing to do half a point-to-point sea­son be­fore turn­ing pro­fes­sional.

There was nat­u­rally go­ing to be a clam­our for his ser­vices and it was reign­ing cham­pion trainer Nicky Hen­der­son who won that bat­tle — James joined him in mid-Oc­to­ber.

Old sages will say it is bet­ter if he does not tear through his claim quickly and, with Hen­der­son — quite apart from hav­ing to fight for his share of the rides with the es­tab­lished jock­eys at Seven Bar­rows — the fo­cus is likely to be on qual­ity, rather than quan­tity.

He may also have to de­mur to his big brother on the Bowen run­ners, un­less they need a claimer on board.

“There were a cou­ple of places I could have gone, but I’m set­tling in well at Mr Hen­der­son’s,” he says. “I’d like to give the con­di­tional jock­eys’ ti­tle a good go, but we’ll see how it works out.”

BRY­ONY FROST 22yo, 5lb claimer with Paul Ni­cholls

BRY­ONY grew up in a train­ing en­vi­ron­ment on Dart­moor, the daugh­ter of 1989 Grand Na­tional-win­ning jockey Jimmy Frost and sis­ter of for­mer pro­fes­sional, Had­den. Bry­ony rode 56 point-to-point win­ners at a 20% strik­er­ate be­fore she sprang to na­tional promi­nence when she rode Pacha Du Polder to vic­tory in the 2017 Fox­hunters at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val. It was just the launch­pad she needed.

“It was a now or never mo­ment,” she says, adding that she has the full sup­port of her boss, Paul Ni­cholls. “It makes the bills eas­ier to pay. At least the diesel is go­ing to be cov­ered now!”

Half her six win­ners since turn­ing pro­fes­sional have come on Black Cor­ton, with the hat-trick achieved in a £18,000 race at New­ton Ab­bot. And as you’d ex­pect with her up­bring­ing, her feet are firmly on the ground.

“Dad taught me never to look at the value of a race un­til you’ve rid­den in it,” she adds. “Be­cause a £1k race is as im­por­tant as a £20k race. I don’t set goals, nor do I set lim­its. I don’t look at the top of the moun­tain, but if you keep your head down and go one step for­ward ev­ery time, you’ll get there even­tu­ally.”

She still speaks to her fa­ther “up to six times” a day and tries to have din­ner with him and her mother at Honi­ton — half­way be­tween Ditcheat and Dart­moor — once a week if she can, adding, “who­ever you are, ev­ery­one needs sup­port”.

MITCHELL BASTYAN 19yo, 7lb claimer with evan wil­liams

MITCHELL was brought up in Yeovil. His mum is a fit­ness in­struc­tor and his dad is a for­mer ma­rine, who is now in­volved in search and res­cue. Mitchell started rid­ing ponies aged eight and joined the Pony Club, fo­cus­ing on showjump­ing and cross-coun­try.

On leav­ing school, he joined Jack Bar­ber’s West Coun­try point-to-point yard for two years.

Mitchell then went to Kerry Lee and, when he wanted to turn pro­fes­sional, he joined Brian Barr. His first ride as a con­di­tional, Veauce De Sivola at Ling­field in March, was a win­ner and he has not looked back since.

Mov­ing to Evan Wil­liams in June, he has rapidly rid­den 19 win­ners, in­clud­ing a dou­ble at Chep­stow at the meet­ing which is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the start of the jump sea­son proper.

“My aim is to keep do­ing what I’m do­ing and not get too far in front of my­self,” he says. “But it was nice to have win­ners at the first big meet­ing of the sea­son.”

‘My aim is to keep do­ing what I’m do­ing, not get ahead of my­self ’ Mitchell bastyan

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