Was William Buick ever Champion Apprentice?

Nowadays, Norwegian-born William Buick is, effectively, the principal jockey for Godolphin in Britain, following the demotion of James Doyle from his previous position as first-choice jockey to the longest-serving Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, in September, 2016. Buick was signed by Godolphin, alongside Doyle, in November, 2014, and rode the first Derby winner in the famous royal blue silks, Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby, in 2018.

Prior to his Godolphin appointment, Buick had previously been stable jockey to John Gosden, succeeding Jimmy Fortune in January, 2010. He famously won the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic in Meydan, United Arab Emirates on Dar Re Mi on just his fourth ride for his new employer.

Buick began his riding career in 2006, at which point he was apprenticed to Andrew Balding, based in Kingsclere, near Newbury, Berkshire. In his debut season, Buick rode just ten winners, but increased his seasonal tally to 67 in 2007 and, in 2008, was involved in a ding-dong battle with David Probert, also apprenticed to Balding, for the Apprentice Jockey Championship. After 95 winners, Buick lost his claim in May, 2008, thereby giving Probert the chance to catch him. Andrew Balding said at the time, ‘They are at different stages of their careers. They aren’t taking each other on.’ Nevertheless, the title was not decided until the final day of the season and eventually shared by Buick and Probert, with 50 winners apiece.

Who was Nat Flatman?

Elnathan ‘Nat’ Flatman, who died from consumption, or tuberculosis, at the age of 50, in 1860, had the distinction of being the first ‘official’ Champion flat jockey in Britain. In 1846, Flatman rode 81 winners to win his first officially recognised jockeys’ championship and remained Champion jockey until 1852, recording his best seasonal tally, 104, in 1848.

Flatman rode his first British Classic winner, Preserve, in the 1,000 Guineas – a race he would win twice more, on Clementina in 1847 and Imperieuse in 1857 – in 1835. That same year, Flatman was beaten just a neck on Ascot in the Derby, but he would not taste Classic success again until the 1844 Derby and, even then, only in controversial circumstances. The Derby ‘winner’, Running Rein, was subsequently discovered to be the ineligible four-year-old Maccabeus, who was disqualified in favour of Orlando, ridden by Flatman. All told, Flatman rode a total of ten British Classic winners, including the 2,000 Guineas in 1845, 1851 and 1856 and the St. Leger in 1848, 1856 and 1857.

Who is John Gosden?

Born in Lewes, East Sussex on March 30, 1951, John Gosden is the son of John ‘Towser’ Gosden and worked as assistant trainer to Vincent O’Brien, Sir Noel Murless and Andrew ‘Tommy’ Doyle, in California, before taking out a training licence in his own right in 1979. In 1983, Gosden saddled what he later described as his ‘first big winner’, Bates Motel, in the Grade One Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park and a year later won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Mile at the now demolished Hollywood Park with Royal Heroine. All told, he trained over 500 winners in the United States before returning to Britain, to train at Stanley House Stables, now Godolphin Stables, in Newmarket in 1989.

Gosden saddled his first British Classic winner, Shantou, in the St. Leger in 1996 and his second, Benny The Dip, in the Derby the following year. In 2000, Gosden moved to Manton, near Marlbrough, Wiltshire and immediately enjoyed further Classic success, winning the 2,000 Guineas with Lahan. However, the bulk of his Classic winners, which currently number eleven, were trained at his current base, Clarehaven Stables on the Bury Road in Newmarket, to which he moved in 2006.

Overall, Gosden has won the St. Leger five times, the Oaks three times, the Derby twice and the 1,000 Guineas once. The 2,000 Guineas remains elusive but, with over 3,500 winners, including over 100 at the highest Group One or Grade One level, to his name worldwide, he is undeniably one of the most successful trainers of his, or any other, generation.

Who is Saeed bin Suroor?

Dubai-born Saeed bin Suroor has been associated with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder of Godolphin, since 1992. He was officially appointed Godolphin trainer in 1995 and made an immediate impact, winning the first three of his twelve British Classics, the Derby, Oaks and St. Leger, with Lammtarra, Moonshell and Classic Cliche, respectively. Indeed, Lammtarra also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and was named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Colt.

Lammtarra was retired to Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket at the end of his three-year-old campaign, but the following year, 1996, bin Suroor won another British Classic, the 2,000 Guineas, with Mark Of Esteem, who also won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot later in the year. All told that season, bin Suroor saddled just 48 winners, but a host of high-profile victories, including in the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International with Halling and the Racing Post Trophy with Medaaly, yielded £1.96 million in prize money. In only his second year in charge, he became Champion Trainer for the first time and would win the trainers’ title again in 1988, 1999 and 2004.

Nowadays, the longest-serving Godolphin trainer splits his year between Al Quoz Stables in Dubai and Godolphin Stables, formerly Stanley House Stables, in Newmarket. Indeed, he has enjoyed spectactular success in one of the most prestigious and valuable races in the the world, the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, winning nine times between 1999 and 2019.

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