Daily Star

MY BEST YEAR YET

James driving career forward

- by MELISSA JONES

JOCKEY James Best had the wheels in motion for a new career – before a surprise big-race double thrust him into the spotlight.

The respected weighing room veteran spent years travelling up and down the country for a handful of rides each week.

Accustomed to long hours in a vehicle, 33-year-old Best decided to train as a lorry driver before the 2023-24 season stepped up a gear.

Future plans were put on hold when My Silver Lining, carrying his mother-in-law Celia Djivanovic’s colours, gave him a career high at Warwick in January.

His joy at the Classic Chase display was followed by a Grade One breakthrou­gh aboard exuberant Sandown front-runner Nickle Back.

“It was an unbelievab­le three weeks,” said Best, who has ridden in 3,807 races over a 15-year period.

“I feel very lucky – it meant the world to be given the opportunit­y to ride these good horses.” Before plying his trade as a freelance, Best worked alongside champion jockey Richard Johnson at Philip Hobbs’ stable.

In 2019, he made Becher Chase history over the Grand National course, riding its first back-to-back winner Walk In The Mill.

Averaging 17 victories a season, father-of-two Best felt it was the right time to consider life out of the saddle.

“I was looking at my options as I’ve been around a long time now,” said the Cornwall-born sportsman.

“I thought it would be good to go for my lorry licence through JETS, they are brilliant for helping jockeys retrain.

“You never know what’s around the corner – and I’ve had my best season for riding quality horses.”

Best and My Silver Lining travel to Haydock today for their next major assignment, the Virgin Bet Grand National Trial over 3m 4f.

 ?? ?? ■ DAY TO SAVOUR: James Best riding My Silver Lining to victory at Warwick
■ DAY TO SAVOUR: James Best riding My Silver Lining to victory at Warwick

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