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 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.

How many times was Richard Hughes Champion Jockey?

Nowadays, Richard Hughes is a respected trainer in Upper Lambourn, Berkshire, where he is following in the footsteps of his late father, Dessie, who was a much-admired jockey-turned-trainer.

However, prior to August, 2015, when he made an unexpectedly early exit from the saddle, at the age of 42, immediately after Glorious Goodwood, he had been one of the most successful jockeys for two decades. Indeed, when he finally called time on his 27-year riding career, Hughes had been Champion Jockey for the past three seasons, with 172, 208 and 161 winners in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Unusually tall for a Flat jockey, at 5′ 10″, Hughes first moved to Britain in 1994 and rode his first Group One winner, Posidonas, trained by Paul Cole, in the Gran Premio D’italia at San Siro in September, 1995. In 2000, Hughes rode over a hundred winners in a season for the first time and, the following year, became the retained jockey to Prince Khalid Abdullah, owner of Juddmonte Farms. That association, which was to last until 2007 and yield Hughes’ first and second Group One winners, courtesy of Cartier Champion Sprinter Oasis Dream, trained by John Gosden, who completed a notable Darley July Cup – Nunthorpe Stakes double in 2003. Hughes also rode regularly for his father-in-law Richard Hannon Snr. and, following the retirement of the four-time Champion Trainer in 2013, his brother-in-law Richard Hannon Jnr..

Which was the last favourite to win the St. Leger?

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, no fewer than ten favourites – including Rule Of Law, who started joint-favourite in 2004 – have won the St. Leger. Ironically, the shortest-priced favourite in that period – and, in fact, the shortest-priced favourite since Reference Point in 1987 – Camelot failed to justify odds of 2/5 when beaten three-quarters of a length by 25/1 outsider Encke in 2012. Camelot was attempting to become the first horse since Nijinsky, in 1970, to win the Triple Crown, but ran below his best and was easily seen off in the closing stages.

To answer the question, though, the last favourite to win the St. Leger was Logician, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, in 2019. Hitherto unbeaten, the Frankel colt had little trouble justifying odds of 5/6, readily asserting in the closing stages to win by two and a quarter lengths. Logician subsequently received treatment for peritonitis – a potentially life-threatening infection of the stomach lining – but fully recovered and remains in training as a four-year-old.

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