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 champion jockey was before Sir Anthony McCoy?

In recent years, the British Jump Jockeys’ Championship has been dominated by Richard Johnson, who was Champion Jockey in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 and is currently 22 winners ahead of his nearest rival, Harry Skelton, with less than two weeks of the 2018/19 National Hunt season remaining. However, prior to 2015/16, Johnson had to play ‘second fiddle’ to Sir Anthony McCoy, who was Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive years between 1995/96 and 2014/15 or, in other words, every year as a full licensed professional jockey. All told, McCoy rode 4,384 winners in an extraordinary career, the likes of which National Hunt racing may see again.

However, there was a time, albeit a few years ago, when McCoy had yet to win his first Jockeys’ Championship and Richard Dunwoody was Champion Jockey three years running in1992/93, 1993/94 and 1994/95. Indeed, Dunwoody rode 1,699 winners, making him, at the time, the most successful jump jockey in history, before his career was cut short by a recurring injury at the age of 35.

How many winners did Steve Smith-Eccles ride at the Cheltenham Festival?

Former National Hunt jockey Steve Smith-Eccles retired from race riding in 1994 and is best remembered for winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival three years running on See You Then, trained by Nicky Henderson, in 1985, 1986 and 1987. However, seven years prior to winning the two-mile championship for the first time, Smith-Eccles had already recorded his first victory at the Cheltenham Festival, when landing the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase aboard Sweet Joe, trained by Harry Thomson ‘Tom’ Jones, in 1978.

Sweet Joe suffered a career-ending injury early in the 1978/79 season, but aside from a notable hat-trick in the Champion Hurdle, Smith-Eccles also won the Triumph Hurdle twice, in 1985 and 1987, the Grand Annual Chase in 1985 and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1986, for a career total of eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Six of those eight winners – First Bout (1985), See You Then (1985, 1986 and 1987) River Ceiriog (1986) and Alone Success (1987) – were trained by Nicky Henderson, at whom Smith-Eccles once threw a punch during an argument, while Alan Jarvis rowed in with Kathies Lad (1985). Indeed, the three winners Smith-Eccles rode at the 1985 Cheltenham Festival were sufficient to win him the leading jockey award for the one and only time.

Which was Harry Skelton’s first Cheltenham Festival winner?

Harry Skelton is the younger son of Olympic gold medal winning showjumper Nick Skelton and stable jockey to his older brother, Dan, at Lodge Hill, near Alcester, Warwickshire in the West Midlands. In 2018/19, Skelton Jnr. enjoyed far and away his most successful season so far, with 178 winners – including his first Grade One winner, Roksana, in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – and over £2 million in prize money.

In the curtailed 2019/20 campaign, his seasonal tally fell to 97 winners, but nonetheless included two more Grade One winners, Allmankind in the Coral Final Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow and Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Indeed, Skelton was named Jockey of the Month for March, 2019 as a result of his victory on the latter.

However, Skelton had recorded his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival three years earlier, courtesy of Superb Story, trained by his brother, in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle in 2016. Sent off at 8/1 third-favourite, behind 7/1 joint-favourites Great Fields and Wait For Me, the five-year-old could be called the winner some way from home and ran on strongly in the closing stages to beat Fethard Player by two-and-a-half lengths; in so doing, he also became a first Cheltenham Festival winner for Dan Skelton.

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