Don Cossack: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. Before I get into today’s post I would like to make a few announcements, unusual for me, I know, but I am super excited and proud and would like to share with my readers!

Firstly, I would like to formally announce I am officially working with Careers In Racing to continue to create content and promote the sport I love. I am truly honoured to be given this opportunity and I cannot wait to get started! You can read my opening interview right now on their website: https://www.careersinracing.com/careers-in-racing-social-creators-zoe-smith/ where I introduce myself and also answer some questions I never have before. I am super exited for this project and I know it will be incredible, so keep an eye on my website and my social media for more information!

Secondly, I was asked by someone you probably all know, William Kedjanyi, to write up his Just William column for Star Sports this week and I absolutely took him up on that opportunity. I focus in on social media within horse racing, amateur jockey’s not being allowed to ride at the Cheltenham Festival as well as Tiger Roll and his future. You can read that right here: https://www.starsportsbet.co.uk/just-william-zoe-smiths-racing-takes/. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this up, something totally different to my usual work and I hope you all enjoy.

Now, with those being said, let’s just jump right into today’s post. My Dad is my number one fan who reads every post I write and always gives me ideas for new posts I can look to write. So today I decided to focus in on a horse who my dad absolutely loves and followed throughout his career and that is Don Cossack. So without further ado, let’s get right into it!


Don Cossack was foaled 21st March 2007, by Sholokhov out of Depeche Toi. He was bred by Gestut Etzean in Germany. Don Cossack was sent to Ireland where he entered ownership of W. B. Connors who sent him into training with Edward Hales.

Don Cossack’s career started on 3rd May 2011 when he ran in a 4 year old National Hunt Flat Race for Mares and Geldings where he finished 5th out of 24 under Robbie McNamara at 6/1. Very shortly after, on 24th October 2011 Don Cossack was brought by the Gigginstown House Stud and move to Gordon Elliott’s yard. After an 179 day break, on 29th October 2011, he was sent to Naas for a National Hunt Flat Race where he started as the 2/1 favourite under Nina Carberry where he won his first race.

Don Cossack then had a 50 day break before returning to the track, this time to Navan on 18th December for a Grade 2 National Hunt Flat Race. He won by 1 1/2 lengths under Nina Carberry as the 4/6 favourite. He took another break, this time of 113 days, not returning to the track until the 9th April 2012. This time to Fairyhouse, winning by 17 lengths as the 6/5 favourite, again under Nina Carberry.

After a 230 day summer break, Don Cossack returned to Navan, this time for a Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles. He started the race as the 30/100 favourite, this time under Davy Russell and impressively won by 9 1/2 lengths. Next for Don Cossack was a Novice Hurdle at Navan on the 16th December 2012, where he started the race as the odds on 8/15 favourite under Davy Russell. Shocking everyone, this was the first time Don Cossack had lost in his career, taking his first fall. After this race, Gordon Elliott did say that he was found to be lame.

We then move into 2013, on the 3rd February, Don Cossack went to Punchestown for the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle over 2 miles. Under Davy Russell he started as the 6/5 favourite. He ended up finishing 2nd by 1 length behind Mozoltov (9/4) trained by Willie Mullins with Ruby Walsh riding. Three weeks later, Don Cossack went to Naas to compete in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle. He started at 5/2, again under Davy Russell. He ended up finishing 3rd behind the winner Annie Power (5/2), the Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh partnership and in second place Defy Logic (13/8F) with AP McCoy on board for Paul Nolan.

Don Cossack then took a 246 day summer break, returning to the track, this time going to Galway for a Beginners Chase on the 28th October 2013 over 2 mile 6 1/2 furlong. He won the race under Andrew Lynch as the 10/11 favourite and in a very stylish way too, winning by 20 lengths. A very impressive start to his chasing career. Three weeks later, Don Cossack returned to Punchestown where he ran in a Grade 2 Novice Chase over 2 mile 6 furlong on the 17th November. He finished second as the odds on 4/5 favourite, this time with Bryan Cooper riding. The eventual winner, by 1/2 length, was Morning Assembly (6/4) for Ruby Walsh.

Two weeks later on the 1st December 2013, Don Cossack headed to Fairyhouse to compete in a Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2 mile 4 furlong. This time with Davy Russell taking up the ride and winning as the 13/8 favourite. Don Cossack took a 70 day break before returning in 2014, this time to Leopardstown on the 9th February, for another Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2 mile 5 furlong. With Bryan Cooper taking the ride, he started as the Evens favourite. Finishing second by 4 lengths behind the duo of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins with Ballycasey (2/1).

The next time we would see Don Cossack was when he took his first trip across the pond to go to the biggest stage of them all, the Cheltenham Festival on the 12th March 2014. Here he ran in the Grade 1 RSA Chase, he started at 11/1 under Bryan Cooper, sadly he fell only for the second time in his career. However, his season wasn’t quite over yet. Gordon Elliott sent Don Cossack back to England, this time to Aintree on the 4th April 2014 to run in a Grade 1 Novice’ Chase over 3 mile 1 furlong. He started at 4/1 under Davy Russell, however only managed second place behind the very powerful duo of AP McCoy and Jonjo O’Neill with Holywell (7/2). Don Cossack ended his season at Punchestown for a Grade 1 Novice Chase on the 29th April, at 4/1. He finished 4th out of 5 with Barry Geraghty riding. Out of the 3 horses who finished ahead of him, 2 had previously beaten him before, 3rd place Morning Assembly (7/4F), 2nd place Ballycasey (3/1) and winner Carlingford Lough (7/2).

Next for Don Cossack was a 170 day summer break before returning to Punchestown on the 16th October 2014 for a Grade 3 Chase where he returned to his winning ways, winning at 11/10 under Bryan Cooper by 5 1/2 lengths. Next for Don Cossack was on my 18th birthday, 1st November 2014, where he headed to Down Royal for a Grade 2 Chase. He beat the odds on 8/11 favourite, Wonderful Charm, who finished in second place. Don Cossack won by 8 1/2 lengths under Bryan Cooper at 6/4. One month later, Don Cossack headed back to Punchestown for a Grade 1 Chase, this time beating the 11/10 favourite Boston Bob who finished in second place. This time by 4 1/2 lengths under Brian O’Connell at 13/8.

We then move into 2015 and on the 15th January Don Cossack headed to Thurles with Bryan Cooper riding, making it 4/4 for the season, this time winning at 6/4 by a massive 44 lengths. He then took a 56 day break before returning to England to have a second shot at the Cheltenham Festival, this time the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase on the 12th March. He started as the 5/2 favourite under Bryan Cooper, however could only manage a 3rd place behind the winner Uxzandre (16/1) for AP McCoy and Alan King and in second place Ma Filleule (5/1) for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson.

Don Cossack returned to England on the 10th April 2015 for the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree, where he started as the 3/1 joint favourite. This time he was rode by a new jockey as Bryan Cooper was currently serving a suspension, the new jockey being Champion Jockey AP McCoy. He ended up winning by 26 lengths to the horse I focused in on Wednesday, the brilliant Cue Card. With trainer Gordon Elliott saying in an interview:

I said a couple of years ago he was the best horse I’ve trained. It didn’t work out then, but he looks it now. AP (McCoy) said he just gallops and gallops. It will be the Gold Cup now.”

https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/don-on-gold-cup-trail-after-impressing-for-mccoy-31133904.html

Don Cossack ended his season at Punchestown on the 29th April beating 2/1 favourite Djakadam in the Irish Gold Cup, this time by 7 lengths at 5/2 under Paul Carberry with regular jockey Bryan Cooper opting to ride Road To Riches. With trainer Gordon Elliott later saying:

We wanted to find out if he stayed the trip or not at this stage of the season so we would know where we are going next year. He’s always been the apple of my eye and this is one of the proudest days I’ve had training horses so far. I feel sorry for Bryan (Cooper, who chose to ride Road To Riches in the same colours as the owner Michael O’Leary) but he had to go with the other horse after being third in the Gold Cup. But I’m delighted for Paul; he’s been associated with me for a long time and to give him a Grade One is brilliant. We were nervous about running him but it’s the Gold Cup so we took our chance and now I’ll be safe in the job for another year, please God. I’m just so happy with the way he did it; he put seven lengths between them on the way to the line.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/apr/29/impressive-don-cossack-punchestown-gold-cup

After a 169 day summer break, Don Cossack returned to Punchestown on the 15th October 2015 for a Grade 3 Chase, winning as the 1/4 favourite with Bryan Cooper on board, this time by 12 lengths to stable companion Roi Du Mee (14/1). Two weeks later, Don Cossack headed to Down Royal with Bryan Cooper again, for a Grade 1 Champion Chase over 3 miles. He won as the odds on 2/11 favourite by 8 lengths. For his final race of 2015, Don Cossack headed back to England, this time to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George Chase. He started the race as the 15/8 favourite under regular jockey Bryan Cooper, however ended up falling 2 out, with Wednesday evening’s post hero Cue Card winning (9/2).

We then move into 2016 and on the 14th January Don Cossack headed to Thurles for a Grade 2 chase over 2 mile 4 furlong, he started as the odds on 1/8 favourite under Bryan Cooper where he won by 9 1/2 lengths. So, where to next for Don Cossack, a third appearance at the Cheltenham Festival and little did we know, would be his last appearance, not only at the Festival but in racing altogether. Don Cossack was made the 9/4 favourite for the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup where, under Bryan Cooper, he won by 4 1/2 lengths to Djakadam (9/2). With jockey Bryan Cooper saying:

Everything went perfect. I didn’t want to get him crowded and we got into a lovely jumping rhythm. I knew turning in that there was only one winner bar a fall. He could have gone round again. There was a lot of press around saying that I couldn’t get on with the horse and I think I’ve proved you all wrong now, so I’m delighted.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/18/bryan-cooper-cheltenham-gold-cup-favourite-don-cossack

Sadly, we would never see Don Cossack on track again. He was being prepared to run at the Punchestown Festival in April 2016, when he sustained a serious tendon injury. After seemingly recovering from his injury, he returned to training, with retaining the Gold Cup being his main goal. However in January 2017, it was said that Don Cossack had suffered a recurrence of the leg injury and the decision had been made to retire him from racing. With Gordon Elliott saying:

It’s a real sickener for Gigginstown, myself, Bryan Cooper and the whole yard. We knew it was never certain we would get him back to the racecourse and, even after that, to get him back to his best, but we were hopeful and he was on track for a run. He’s a horse of a lifetime and he owes us nothing. I said all season that if he had any sort of setback at all we would not abuse him and retire him straight away. It was one of the highlights of my career when Don Cossack won the Gol Cup for us last year and he retires a champion. A peaceful retirement awaits him out in Gigginstown.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/11/cheltenham-gold-cup-winner-don-cossack-retired-injury-setback-horse-racing

After going through his incredible career, I am going to go into a few facts about Don Cossack, so lets just jump into it.

Firstly, let’s go through Don Cossack’s race record

5111/1F23/1212F2/4111131/111F11/

So let’s now sum those numbers up!

27 Races
16 x 1st
4 x 2nd
2 x 3rd
1 x 4th
1 x 5th
3 x Fall

So all in all, he had an unreal career, winning £907,365 in total. It may have been a short career, but what a career it was. I was lucky enough last February to visit Olly Murphy, who was Gordon Elliott’s assistant trainer at the time of Don Cossack’s peak. He told me the following about Don Cossack:

Yeah, it was magic. He was the apple of Gordon’s eye from a young age. And it was great to be there and see him go through the ranks and in a Gold Cup. It was probably my biggest days racing aside from coming home and training myself. Being at Cheltenham and seeing him win a Gold Cup, it was magic, the emotion the whole day was second to none and yeah, he’s a horse who unfortunately we probably didn’t get to see the best of either.

https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/02/16/a-stable-visit-to-olly-murphys-warren-chase-a-full-interview/

For me, I think Don Cossack can be classed as a people’s horse because he showed people time and time again that he could come back. He would fall or have a bad race, but he would always return and fight his heart out and no matter what he would always try his best. Personally, Don Cossack was the first horse I bet on in the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup and ended up being my first Gold Cup winner too so he will always be special to me and I am gutted that we never go to see him again, I think we only seen half of what he was capable of and it’s a real shame that a recurring injury made sure he could never show that to the world.

I have the upmost respect for Gordon Elliott and the O’Leary’s, they didn’t try to overwork him, they made the decision to retire him as a champion so he could live a happy and healthy retirement.

Don started a new career with Irish Olympic eventer Louise Lyons. With Louise saying:

He has been with me for about a month and we have been to three shows – he is loving it and is really enjoying the attention. At shows we have had people coming up to stroke him and have their picture taken with him.”

https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/don-cossack-racehorse-retraining-louise-lyons-658114

Honestly, I am just so happy and relieved that Don Cossack got to finish on his own terms, I am so happy that the team decided to retire him and not push him for that extra run which could have ended disastrously. He was an incredible talent, but also a lovely horse and I am honoured to have been around to be able to watch him.

So, there we have it, Don Cossack in all his glory. I am thoroughly enjoying doing research into these posts, reading news articles, re-watching videos, searching their careers, it’s been incredible and I am really loving it and from the reaction on social media, so are my followers. I am still working my way through the 100’s of suggestions I have had sent to me, as well as focusing on more history stories and also a few new ideas I have in the works. I also have a few interviews planned leading up to Cheltenham, so if all goes as planned then it is all roads lead to Cheltenham! I am currently sticking to a strict schedule of 2 posts per week and I think that is working well for me at the moment, I am unsure if this will change at any point, but for the time being I will be continuing to post every Wednesday at 6pm and every Saturday at 11am.

Thank you again for reading, I will see you all in my next post!

An Interview with Harry Cobden

Good Evening!

Welcome to a brand new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today I am very excited to bring to you an interview with someone I have been wanting to interview for a long time and that is of course Harry Cobden. I was lucky enough to sit down with Harry last week on a zoom call and discuss all things horse racing and I can promise you it is a good one so without further ado, let’s jump right into it!


Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Harry: I’d say my favourite replay to watch would be Topofthegame in the RSA, it was just tactically a great race and you know, some fantastic horses in the race, so yeah, it’s one I just love watching back.

Me: If you could ride any horse you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose and why?

Harry: I don’t know, I mean, Kauto Star was pretty spectacular and his race record was unbelievable wasn’t it? You know, if you could have a go on a horse like that, then you know, you only get one of them in a lifetime.

Me: When I have spoken to the likes of AP McCoy and Richard Johnson they have always said how the whip is a vital part of the jockeys kit in order to ensure the safety of the horses and yourselves, what are your personal opinions surrounding the whip and the discussion of people wanting the whip banned?

Harry: Yeah, I couldn’t agree with them any more really because the whip is vital, it’s there for the safety of the jockey, it’s there for the safety of the horse. The whips are actually made out of a foam sort of thing nowadays so they’re actually not there to hurt the horse, so I am all for the whip. And you know, I think it’s… We’re in a position now where safety is paramount isn’t it? I think we should continue using it. And one other thing I would say is that jockeys don’t abuse the whip either, if you look over sort of the last 10 years, whip bans have come down immensely and I think jockeys as a whole are doing a good job to make sure we don’t go over the permitted level.

Me: When I visited Colin Tizzard’s yard back in November 2019, Joe mentioned to us that they had offered you the stable jockey job there, obviously you took the job with Paul, how hard of a decision was that? Two massive stables fighting it out to have you as their main jockey.

Harry: Yeah, obviously a massive decision, especially when you’re only sort of 19 but, you know, thankfully we’ve, well I’ve stayed in with the whole Tizzard family and I’ve been very fortunate to have rode plenty of winners for them since. Yeah, I suppose I’m really grateful they’re still using me when I’m available. Yeah, it was a tough decision, but yeah I started off with Paul and he’s obviously been very good to me and I’m still riding plenty of good horses and lots of winners there so that was the decision really.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Harry: Erm, I suppose Richard Johnson would be the ultimate professional. He’s a proper gentleman and the way he conducts himself is absolutely fantastic and yeah, he is the ultimate professional in every way really on and off the track.

Me: Following on from that slightly, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by a fellow jockey?

Harry: Erm, I wouldn’t really specifically say I could think of something off the top of my head because I’ve been told so much in the past but, I’m struggling to think, but I’m sure I’ve been told to keep my head down and work hard or something.

Me: So, obviously Paul has some incredible horses in his yard, what would you say is the Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden banker of the Cheltenham Festival?

Harry: If I was going to pick one out now, I would probably say Bravemansgame in the Ballymore, he’d be looking like my best chance going into it if the Festival was tomorrow, but look, the Irish are obviously very strong so we’re not really sure what they’re going to bring over for that yet, but yeah, if the Festival was tomorrow I would say him. He’s a lovely horse and we’re very fortunate to have him.

Me: What is the one race you’d love to win that you haven’t yet?

Harry: One hundred and ten percent the Gold Cup.

Me: On to the Gold Cup, obviously everyone loves Cyrname and wants to know how he is after the King George, it was a gruelling race, how’s he come out of that and will we see him head towards the Gold Cup or is there other plans for him?

Harry: I’m not really sure, I mean myself and Paul have had a few discussions and I haven’t actually heard the final outcome, but it’s definitely still on the agenda and there is a big possibility he will go straight there. The King George was a bit of a strange one, I’m sort of still scratching my head over it now, he felt great going into the race and you know, everyone seems very pleased with him coming out of it, it was just one of those disappointing days where I’m not really sure what happened. I probably should have been more positive and erm, he’s not as keen as he was, he’s more relaxed now. Yeah, maybe I should’ve gave him a slap down the shoulder and sent him on and got him up there to be competitive. He’s quietened down a lot and that could be just what it is. Going forward he seems absolutely A1.

Me: So he’s absolutely fine coming out of that, there’s nothing to worry about?

Harry: Nothing to report and erm, Scott who rides him out every day seems pleased with him and yeah, it’s very odd, maybe he doesn’t like Kempton. But yeah, I’m still scratching my head now because there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the horse.

Me: In terms of the King George, Frodon won under Bryony (Frost), how special is that as a team? As the stable jockey who isn’t on the winner, how does that affect you? Do you still get involved in the celebrations as a team and feel the excitement even though it was Bryony riding a winner for Paul rather than yourself?

Harry: It is a massive team effort. Paul would employ 50 to 60 people to ride out on the yard and it’s a huge team effort, everyone puts so much in and it’s good for Bryony, it’s good for Paul and it’s great for racing I think. You know, for a girl to win the King George for the first time is fantastic and it’s good for racing. So back in the yard it was a great atmosphere on the Monday morning, so I’m certainly not going to be bitter over that one.

Me: I know first hand from visiting Paul’s yard and seeing the horses treated like royalty there, so what do you think when people say horse racing is animal cruelty?

Harry: Yeah, I mean, if they actually came and saw for themselves, you know, basically they just think that jockeys don’t really care for the horse and they’re just there for the money and all they care about is whipping the horse, but that’s really not what it’s like. The horses are obviously cared for seven days a week and the lads and lasses absolutely love the horses and you can really see the affection in the yard and when you go there in the morning… Like today I seen a video of Scott giving Master Tommytucker a carrot and stuff like that and just the way they’re treated. They’re mucked out, they’re groomed, they’ve got top quality feed, we’ve got a physio who goes around giving the horses physio. And you know, just the little things and if they could come in and see that for themselves then I’m sure they’d have a different view.

Me: Talking about Master Tommytucker, on Saturday (09/01/2021) I was watching from home and my heart was in my mouth watching you at the last, what was you thinking in that moment?

Harry: Yeah, it was obviously one of those hairy moments but he’s such a difficult horse to ride in the fact that I had got it right the whole way round then I came down to the last and sort of threw him at it which was erm… Probably not the brightest thing to do in the world, but yeah, he luckily stood up and we all got away with it but I was a little bit worried for a minute because it was a hairy old jump. But he’s obviously improving and yeah he’s going the right way. It’s almost taken me 4 or 5 races to actually learn how to ride him, he’s got his own way of doing things and I think now I’m starting to get the hang of it because he is quite difficult.

Me: And when we were watching on TV, Mick Fitzgerald said that the smaller field probably helped him a little bit, is that how you felt?

Harry: Yeah, definitely. A lot of people are saying he has to make the running but I disagree with that. He actually ran in the Caspian Caviar last time out and I just didn’t feel like he was 100% that day. When he bolted up at Haydock the time before it was really deep ground and we probably underestimated how hard a race he had.

Me: Obviously you’re still very young with plenty of riding years ahead of you, have you got AP McCoy’s record in sight? Do you think you can come close to it or beat it maybe?

Harry: No. I say I wouldn’t come anywhere near it. His record is absolutely phenomenal isn’t it? I don’t think it’ll ever get beaten ever again and I know for a fact it won’t be me beating it anyway.

Me: So, Paul has some younger horses in the yard, what would you say is the horse to watch, maybe not for this season but in the coming seasons?

Harry: I suppose we have had plenty of bumper winners this season and off the top of my head, I rode a really nice horse, one at Newbury called Petrossian, he seems a lovely horse, Mr Denmark owns him and he’s got loads of speed and loads of gears. I’m not sure he won the greatest bumper in the world but he is a nice type and he could just be one of those nice horses that goes on to do well in the 2 mile novice hurdle division next season. But you know, there are so many, the amount of bumper horses we’ve got this year, like the one Megan won on, Mr Glass, and she won the listed bumper, Silent Revolution, you know we could go on for a long time, but I suppose Petrossian would be the one that gave me a great feel on the way around.

Me: As the stable jockey at Ditcheat, was is the process if there is multiple horses in a race? Do you make the decision on what to ride or does that ultimately go down to Paul?

Harry: It’ll definitely be a joint discussion, obviously if Paul had his thoughts and I had mine we’d always talk about it beforehand. But I haven’t actually got it right too often as of late, I seem to be picking the wrong ones, but hopefully it’ll come right in a minute.

Me: What is your favourite track to go and ride at?

Harry: I’d say probably Wincanton because it’s 5 minutes from my house and I have a 40% strike rate around there.

Me: The final question from me is, what would be your best piece of advice for a young person who has a passion in something, whether that be racing or not, that they want to follow?

Harry: You know, you’ve gotta believe in yourself and follow your dreams but at the same time be realistic and work hard.


I want to say a massive thank you to Harry for taking some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me and have a chat. This was probably one of my favourite interviews to date as Harry was very open, very honest and willing to discuss anything within the sport and I feel as though with his answers we got a real insight into Harry, Ditcheat and racing as a whole. That for me, is the whole point of what I do. I want to broadcast our sport to a wider, younger audience by being as transparent as possible and opening peoples eyes to behind the scenes that they may not get to see otherwise.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this as much as I did. I will see you all on Saturday for my next post which is another super excciting one where I interview Rachael Blackmore!

An Interview with Barry Geraghty

Hi guys!

I am very excited to bring to you all today an interview with, in my opinion, one of the best jockeys I have had the honour of growing up and watching. I am very grateful to Barry for taking time out of his day to allow me to speak all things racing. Let’s get straight into it!


Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Barry: I grew up dreaming of being a jockey and of winning the English Grand National. I hoped that some day I might get the chance to win it, but I never thought it would happen as easily as it did, and I presumed I would be a lot older than 23 by the time I’d won it.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Barry: To me, Istabraq was the ultimate hurdler. He had so much class, jumped brilliantly and was unbelievable around Cheltenham.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Barry: Personally I feel with all the modifications to the whip itself make it as harmless as it is brilliant and I also believe the rule changes in recent years to both reduce the number of strikes and penalising jockeys for hitting horses out of contention are sufficient. The whip is a vital piece of equipment to help control a horse for its safety and the safety of others.

Me: What is one race you’d love to have won that you never did?

Barry: I was very fortunate to have won most of the major races in England and Ireland throughout my career. The only Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival that I didn’t win was the Supreme Novice Hurdle, so I’ll go with that.

Me: You’ve rode some incredible horses in your career such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, Bobs Worth, Monty’s Pass, Buveur D’Air and so many more… What would you say is the best horse you rode and why? And not necessarily the best, but your favourite horse to ride and why?

Barry: I was very fortunate to ride a lot of great horses over the years an I’ve never been able to split Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre. They were two amazing horses but very different. Sprinter oozed class and was always so impressive in his races but Moscow on the other hand would be an average horse by two to three lengths and beat Azertiyoup by the same, he also went four full years unbeaten. They were both a real thrill on the racecourse.

Me: What was your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?

Barry: There is no racecourse that you get the same buzz for winning whether you are a professional or punter as you get at Cheltenham.

Me: You finished your riding career as the 2nd most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival behind Ruby Walsh with 43 winners in total, out of all of those winners, what one stands out the most to you as the one you enjoyed the most?

Barry: I probably got my biggest kick out of winning the Champion Hurdle last year on Epatante for two of my biggest supporters JP McManus and Nicky Henderson. I knew going into the meeting that it was my last Festival as a jockey, so to win one of the feature races in my last year meant so much.

Me: The green and gold silks are arguably the most recognisable within racing, did you ever feel any pressure riding for JP McManus knowing people would automatically look at your horse due to the silks you were wearing?

Barry: There was always an element of pressure when riding for a big stable or owner but the pressure I always felt was more what I put myself under to get the result than external pressure from anyone else.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Barry: Like all field sports there is a risk of injury involved in racing, but it is in no way cruel. From the time a racehorse is born they are cared for like royalty, with the best feed, living accommodation and care any animal could wish for. That continues throughout their racing career and through their rehoming in retirement.

Me: You rode for some incredible trainers throughout your career, what was the best piece of advice you was given in general or for a specific race that you can remember?

Barry: When Nicky Henderson would give you your riding instructions at the Cheltenham Festival he would finish it with ‘have a nice time’, that is Nicky’s way of trying to take any pressure off you. It was always lovely to hear in that pressurised environment.

Me: You won Champion Jockey in Ireland twice, do you ever look back at your career and wish you had attempted to take AP McCoy’s crown and won the British Jockey Championship?

Barry: I enjoyed being Champion Jockey in Ireland on both occasions, but I was always drawn more to the chance to ride a good horse in a big race rather than chasing around the country every day of the week trying to find winners. Big days mattered more to me.

Me: If you could choose a banker for the Cheltenham Festival 2021, who would you currently choose?

Barry: Envoi Allen in the Marsh Chase.

Me: In the 12 months between 2004-2005, Kicking King went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George twice, for a young racing fan like myself who doesn’t really remember him, describe how good of a horse was he to ride?

Barry: Kicking King was very good, he was a big, strong horse with a lot of scope. He had a lot of natural pace as a three miler but also proved he stayed well when winning the Gold Cup, but for injury he could’ve won a few more.

Me: You’ve won the Grand National so you know what it takes, do you believe Tiger Roll could go on to win for a 3rd time? If not, is there any horse that has caught your eye that could take the crown?

Barry: Tiger Roll has proved how good he is around Aintree and with luck on his side there is no reason why he couldn’t return and win it again, the only problem is you need a lot of luck!

Me: In a great career, to finish as the fourth most successful British and Irish jump jockey with 1920 wins, do you look back and wish you had done anything different?

Barry: You always learn from your mistakes and that’s what makes you a better rider, so without the mistakes you won’t improve.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Barry: Follow your dream, give it all you can but most importantly try and enjoy it.


I want to say a huge thank you to Barry for taking time out to answer some questions and talk all things racing. I grew up watching Barry compete so it truly is an honour to have him take part in my blog and to support what I am doing and wish me luck moving forward. Hearing someone like Barry tell me how much he enjoyed answering these questions instead of regular every day questions means a lot to myself.

I absolutely loved this one, so I hope my readers enjoy it also.

I will see you all in my next post which will be Wednesday (20/01/2021) at 6pm which is a brand new interview with Harry Cobden!

An Interview with Jamie Moore

Hey guys!

Today I am thrilled to bring to you an interview with Jamie Moore. From such a huge racing family, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to Jamie about all things racing!


Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Jamie: The Grand National

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, who would you choose?

Jamie: Red Rum

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Jamie: I think it’s a load of rubbish. I think it’s a part of the art of riding. Whip technique is a skill and we keep it safe as the rules are very good in this country. And it doesn’t hurt the horses.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Jamie: Richard Johnson and Ryan Moore.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Jamie: The Grand National.

Me: Of course, you’re from a huge racing family, do you ever feel any pressure due to the success of the Moore name within racing?

Jamie: There’s not pressure. We all do our best and we all know how hard we try. The success is sweeter, but when it goes wrong it hurts more.

Me: On from that, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given from Ryan, Josh, Hayley or your dad Gary?

Jamie: There is no real stand out from any, but we always help each other with little things when we can. Josh is always the best for advice.

Me: How is Goshen? Personally, where would you like to see him go next?

Jamie: He’s fine. I’d like to see him go to Sandown next month.

Me: One of the best photos, in my opinion, from Cheltenham is the photo of AP McCoy leaving his ITV podium to come and console you after the incident with Goshen, what was his words of wisdom to you in that moment? How did you feel to have one of the greatest jockeys in our time to give up his time out to come and speak with you?

Jamie: He just told me to keep my chin up. I just kept telling him I’m a d*ckhead. He’s the greatest jockey ever but he is also a mate who I rode against a lot. He knew what I was going through so it was very kind of him, but that is the sort of fella he is.

Me: You seem very close with your Dad in terms of the sport, are you looking forward to a potential future within training like your dad or is that not something you have ever thought about?

Jamie: I love the training side of things and I love just plainly riding horses – whether it is racing or training and I will always be at our stables helping out.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Jamie: Jog on and keep your nose out. If you don’t like it then ignore it. Come and see how our horses are looked after. When you see ponies and horses chucked in muddy fields with no grass with their ears flat back in the rain – They don’t have much of a life.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Jamie: High Definition.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Jamie: Sandown is a lovely track. You can see over all of London to spectate and watch them jumping down the back straight. It’s a great race course.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Jamie: Be a student of whatever it may be, whether it’s sport, medicine, journalism, whatever it is. Read books and learn everything you possibly can to be the best you possible can be in your chosen field. Never stop learning. Watch the best and learn from the best.


Firstly, as always, I would like to thank Jamie for taking time out of his day to speak with me all things racing. I hope everyone enjoyed this post as much as I did speaking with Jamie and getting this post wrote up.

I will be back Wednesday (13/01/2021) at 6pm with an interview with Julie Camacho. So I shall see you all then!

An Interview with Mick Fitzgerald

Hey guys!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year and we’re all back to make 2021 a good one. I am super excited to bring you my first post of 2021 which is an interview with ex jockey, now TV pundit, Mick Fitzgerald. Mick took time out of his morning Tuesday to speak to me all things racing, so I hope you all enjoy!


Me: What was your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Mick: Favourite race of my career I think to win was the Gold Cup, it was the one race I wanted to win more than any other. I was 15 when Dawn Run won in 1986 and you know, it was one of those moments that you never forget. I always wondered what it would feel like to win the Gold Cup and to walk into that winners enclosure and thankfully I was able to win that.

Me: If you could ride any horse that is currently in training, what horse would you choose and why?

Mick: I think I would choose Shishkin, because those good horses, especially ones like him, they’ve got very high cruising speed. He’s a bit of a natural athlete in that he’s got a lot of scope jumping and he’s just, he’s already proven on a big stage, winning the Supreme at the Festival. Erm, but he looks like he’s a shining star.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Mick: I disagree with it, I think that we need something that… People have to understand that when you’re in control of an animal that size, you sometimes need something that will give you the upper hand. I think when you carry a whip it is mainly for correction purposes. If you’ve got a horse that is being unruly or it’s a danger to other people and other horses, you need to be able to give it a slap down the shoulder to basically correct it to stop it misbehaving really.

Me: You obviously work for some of the biggest broadcasters in racing, some jockey’s never go down that route, why do you think you went into that? What do you enjoy about it?

Mick: Erm, why did I, I think in the past maybe, some jockey’s didn’t feel like it was an avenue they wanted to go down. I have always found working on TV enjoyable and I think as a pundit, having been there and done it, you know, I have an opinion that is valid in a sense that I know how it feels like to get it wrong and I know how it feels like to get it right. And I know, I’d like think with my coaching background now, I can kind of pin point areas where some jockey’s need to be better and areas where jockey’s excel. I enjoy it as a job, well it’s not really a job. I get to go racing at a time now, especially at the moment, when it’s a horrible time for a lot of people. If you’re an owner of a race horse you’re not allowed to go and watch your horse run, whereas I feel very privileged that I am able to work in a sport that I love and be able to convey that to the people who are watching.

And how do I feel? As you say, I have been very lucky. Ed Chamberlin – our lead presenter on ITV – is a great man to work with. He’s very… He’s not… It’ not all about him. He very much wants to get the best out of his co-presenters, whether it is Francesca (Cumani), whether it’s me, whether it’s AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh or Luke Harvey. He wants to get the best out of us, that’s what he feels his job is. Erm, and obviously when I worked for Channel 4 and BBC, I worked with Clare Balding, who was one of the best I have ever worked with. She is very professional and brilliant at her job and she has a great way of being able to talk to the person sat at home as if they were sat down beside her. She had… a super way. Nick Luck, obviously he is very professional and so natural. He is a very good communicator and he’s a really good operator. And then when I did work in radio, people like Mark Pougatch and John Inverdale, they are titans of their profession. Really really good presenters who are exceptional at what they do. Eleanor Oldroyd is another one I worked with on Five Live. She is a brilliant presenter, again, she has got a great… I think the key to good presenting is making the person sat at home, whether they’re listening to you or watching you, feel like they are the only person in the room and you are talking directly to them. That is what all of those people I have mentioned have done and still do brilliantly.

Me: You touched there on being a jockey coach as well, are there any upcoming jockey’s that you’re looking forward to that could potentially come close to AP McCoy’s record?

Mick: Oft, I don’t know about AP’s record, I think that… To put it into context Zoe, somebody has to ride 200 winners for 20 years consecutively to get near AP’s record… To get near it – not beat it. So that is a mountain and I certainly haven’t seen anybody that can be that dominant at the moment. But there is a good batch of young riders coming through, you’ve got Danny McMenamin who’s a very good rider based up the North, you’ve got Jack Tudor who is one of the lads I coach, he’s a very big talent. Liam Harrison is another young man I work with who is very good. Lilly Pinchin who I work with, I think she is very good. Erm, there is… The great thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, I’ve worked with the Bowen brothers, I’ve worked with Bryony Frost throughout her career and as far as I’m concerned, what sex a person is has nothing to do with their ability to ride a horse. You have to work hard, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone if you want to improve and only then will you improve.

Me: Do you believe Tiger Roll can go on to win a third Grand National? If not, are there any horses you fancy to take the crown?

Mick: It’s a big ask for Tiger Roll this year, like, there’s a lot of young… I think he had a better chance off winning it last year than he does this year. Obviously he’s a year older and it’ll be hard for him now. Erm, I would love to see him do it but I think it will be tough. I quite like a horse called The Conditional trained by David Bridgwater. He I think has… He ticks all the boxes for me. He’s a big horse.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks horse racing is animal cruelty?

Mick: Well, all they have to do is see how they are looked after. These horses… People have to… We need to educate people to show them as well. These horses are bred to race and if you turned them out into a field… We have horses here and if you turn them out in the field they gallop. They love to gallop and they love to jump and as far as I’m concerned these horses are bred to do this and it’s what they like doing. If they’re not being forced to do it, they still do it, so you know, I don’t see the cruelty. Horses that are looked after like these are? That’s not cruelty in my eyes.

Me: What would be your horse to watch for the next couple of seasons?

Mick: I think Shishkin. Definitely. He’s the one who should be on the top of everybody’s lists really.

Me: What is one race that you never won that you would have loved to win?

Mick: Champion Hurdle. I never won the Champion, I was 3rd in it and I never won it. That’s definitely the one.

Me: What was your favourite course to ride at and what is your favourite course to be a pundit at?

Mick: Erm, Cheltenham is my favourite because there is nowhere quite like it. To be a pundit, I think it’s a toss up between Ascot and Cheltenham. I think Ascot is such a fantastic Grand Stand and arena that it’s hard not to be impressed when you stand there and look up at that structure. Even when you drive in to Ascot you can see it and it’s really impressive and to work at it’s kind of got everything in terms of ease of access and how you’re looked after, that’s pretty good. And Cheltenham… I would have to say Cheltenham Zoe really, on both counts. You know, like it doesn’t get any better than there. I know I’m a bit biased and it sounds wrong for me to say Cheltenham and Cheltenham but it feels like it’s Cheltenham.

Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Mick: Favourite day of the racing calendar? Erm… It is the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival. Purely because it is the start of four days of absolute top draw racing.

Me: For the last question, what is your best piece of advice for young people who want to follow their passion, whether that be in racing or elsewhere?

Mick: Erm, don’t ever be put off by what other people tell you. If you want something and it’s something you care and are passionate about… Follow it. You might have to work harder than everybody else to get there, but it will be worth it in the end. If you care about something and you’re passionate about it, let that passion be what drives you forward. Never be afraid to chase your dream.

Me: Thank you for your time today Mick, I appreciate you’re busy so I am grateful you have taken time out to speak with me.

Mick: No not at all. The very best of luck, continue with what you’re doing.


I want to say a huge thank you to Mick for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me and supporting the work I am doing on my blog. It’s an honour to speak with someone who is such a huge name in a sport I love. Mick gave some in depth answers that really gave an insight into the sport and I thoroughly enjoyed our talk.

I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I did.

Thank you all so much for reading my first post of 2021. I will be back on Saturday (09/01/2021) at 11am where I am bringing to you an interview with Jamie Moore.

AP McCoy – The Greatest of all Time?

Hi Guys!

So as this post goes live, the 11th of October it is actually my Dad’s Birthday. And as my Dad is one of my top supporters and is subscribed to my blog and will receive his weekly email, what better way to honour him and his special day than to do a post all about his favourite ever, all time jockey. Mr Anthony McCoy. I think we can all agree that he broke all sorts of records and will go down in history as one of the greatest. Even if you don’t follow horse racing you know the name AP McCoy. But I thought it would be super interesting to get into the nitty gritty and look at the facts and figures behind the great man and really investigate his career. I love these sorts of posts and find them so interesting to research and write up and the response I had from my followers in regards to my Ryan Moore post were incredible so I will hopefully be making this into a series where I look at jockeys and trainers and really investigate their story and their career.

Disclaimer: The facts, figures and stats are all from different sources online and I have simply compiled them altogether into one post, I have tried to use multiple sources to ensure all facts are as accurate as possible. I apologise if anything is incorrect. Please feel free to tweet me anything that may be incorrect so I can change it. At the time of writing this post 10/10/20 all of the figures are accurate according to my online sources used. So with that being said… Let’s jump right into it.

Sir Anthony Peter McCoy was born on May 4th 1974 in Moneyglass, County Antrim, making him currently 46 years old. He rode his first winner at just 17 years old on March 26th 1992 for Jim Bolger on a horse called Legal Steps at Thurles Racecourse in Ireland. Initially AP was an apprentice for Jim and whilst riding out for him one morning he suffered a really horrible fall and ended up with a broken leg. By the time he recovered he had continued to grow taller and decided at this point that it was best to become a jump jockey.

It was then in 1994 AP moved across the Irish Sea and began riding in England. It didn’t take long for AP to have his first winner on English soil. On September 7th 1994 he won at Exeter for Gordon Edwards on Chickabiddy. In his first full season in the UK he was a conditional jockey for Toby Balding which ended with him winning the Conditional Jump Jockey’s Title in 1995 before becoming the Champion Jockey for the first time in 1996.

After his very successful start in the UK, AP attracted the attention of the leading trainer Martin Pipe and an upcoming current leading trainer Paul Nicholls. In 1997 he joined forces with Martin Pipe which proved to be a very strong partnership which dominated National Hunt Racing.

By the new millennium AP McCoy had set a new National Hunt record for winners in a season with 253, he equalled the record of five winners at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival and he also became the fastest jockey to reach 100 winners in a season in 2001. He went on to beat Gordon Richards record for the total number of winners ridden in a season which was held since 1947. McCoy has always said this is his biggest achievement, despite all of his success after this. On December 11th 1999 AP rode his 1000th winner Majadou at Cheltenham.

He broke the record on Valfonic at Warwick on April 2nd 2002 and then went on to set a new record of 289 winners in a season. On August 27th 2002, he rode Might Montefalco at Uttoxeter to victory which meant he had surpassed Richard Dunwoody’s all time jumps record and became the leading jumps jockey.

AP joined forces with JP McManus in 2004 after reportedly being offered a £1 million a year retainer.

On January 17th 2004 AP rode his 2000th winner Magical Bailiwick at Wincanton. On October 3rd 2006, he then won his 2500th winner Kanpai at Huntingdon. He then reached 3000 winners just 3 years later when winning on Restless D’Artaix for Nicky Henderson on February 9th 2009.

At this point, AP McCoy had won pretty much every race he could win, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Chase, King George VI Chase and so much more, he still hadn’t won the Grand National. He had finished 3rd three times, in 2001 and 2002 on Martin Pipe’s Blowing Wind and in 2005 on Jonjo O’Neill’s joint favourite Clan Royal who was still traveling well until he was hampered by a loose horse. Finally, on his 15th attempt Anthony Peter McCoy won the Grand National on April 10th 2010 on Jonjo O’Neill’s horse Don’t Push It owned by J.P McManus.

After winning the Grand National, AP was named the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and therefore became the first jockey to win the award.

On November 7th 2013, AP had his 4000th career win on Jonjo O’Neill’s Mountain Tunes at Towcester. On December 16th of the same year AP reached the 150 winners landmark after riding a double at Ffos Las. This was the 18th time out of the 20 season he had been riding in Britain that he surpassed 150 winners. He was then crowned Champion Jockey for the 19th consecutive time, extending his record even further.

The next year on June 10th 2014, AP recorded his fastest ever half century of winners after winning on Bob Keown for Rebecca Curtis at Worcester. He reached 50 winners in just 44 days. That same season on July 19th 2014, AP reached a huge milestone by surpassing 4191 winners which his friend and mentor Martin Pipe achieved before retirement in 2006. He then broke his own record for the fastest century of winners in a season, his 100th winner coming on Arabic History at Newton Abbot on August 21st just 116 days into the season, beating his previous record of 130.

AP McCoy then announced live on Channel 4 that he would be retiring at the end of the 2014-2015 National Hunt Season after winning the Game Spirit Chase on Mr Mole which was his 200th win of the season. His last professional ride would be the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April 2015.

In the 2016 New Year Honours, Anthony Peter McCoy was knighted for his services to horse racing.

So, onto the important facts and figures.

Firstly, the big wins in AP McCoy’s career. The list is a pretty long one, so bare with me.

Firstly his Cheltenham Festival winners:

  • Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle x 3
  • Arkle Challenge Trophy x 3
  • Byrne Group Plate x 1
  • Cathcart Challenge Cup x 2
  • Champion Bumper x 1
  • Champion Hurdle x 3
  • Cheltenham Gold Cup x 2
  • County Hurdle x 2
  • Festival Trophy Handicap Chase x 1
  • JLT Novices’ Chase x 2
  • Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase x 1
  • Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase x 3
  • Pertemps Final x 1
  • Queen Mother Champion Chase x 1
  • RSA Chase x 1
  • Ryanair Chase x 3
  • Supreme Novices’ Hurdle x 1

Next up is his major nationals:

  • English Grand National x 1
  • Irish Grand National x 1
  • Midlands Grand National x 1
  • Scottish Grand National x 1
  • Welsh Grand National x 1

The list is endless so I haven’t included absolutely every big win AP has won, but there is just a little insight.

Sir Anthony Peter McCoy to this day, holds the record for the most wins with a massive 4358, including 4348 jumps and 10 flat. The closest to him is Richard Johnson, who currently, at the time of writing this has 3745 wins. AP rode 17630 horses to get his 4358 wins meaning he won 24.72% of his rides.

Interestingly, AP McCoy won most of his rides for Jonjo O’Neill with 808. Secondly is Martin Pipe with 694. Thirdly is Nicky Henderson with 197. Again these stats were found only on one source so I’m hoping they are as accurate as possible.

As far as my research took me, I found that AP has also rode a winner at every racecourse in the UK apart from Epsom Downs and Goodwood. Don’t quote me on this as I could only find it on one source!

Now, like with Ryan Moore, I searched high and low to find accurately how much prize money AP McCoy won and after a lot of research I found that he made £39,299,843 in total.

Overall I think everyone knows Sir AP McCoy is one of the best jockeys of all time and certainly the best I have ever seen in my life time. Personally I don’t see someone over taking the records he has set in a very long time – if ever.

Before I finish I wanted to include a photo I have found. AP McCoy basically broke every bone in his body whilst riding and still came through it to continue.

What do you think? Is AP McCoy the best of all time? Also, who else would you like me to research into? Please let me know via Twitter! On another note, I was lucky enough to interview AP McCoy back in March at the Cheltenham Festival and you can read that right here if you haven’t already: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/03/11/an-interview-with-20-time-champion-jockey-ap-mccoy/

This one was a tough one to write up as I have read different figures on different pages so I didn’t know what was 100% accurate, so it took a lot of different sources stating the same things before I wrote it. If anything is incorrect then please do let me know via Twitter.

See you in the next post!

Is Ryan Moore one of the Greatest Flat Jockeys of our Time?

Hi guys!

Today’s post is something a little different to my usual horse racing posts, however I thought it would be an interesting one. On social media Ryan Moore is a highly debated person within racing, some people love him, some people hate him – a little bit like Marmite. So I thought today we would just stay neutral and go through some of the facts and figures of Ryan’s career. I found it very interesting looking through different articles and figures and I though why not share with my audience. So today we will simply look at Ryan Moore as a whole, his life, career and more importantly his stats!

Disclaimer: The facts, figures and stats are all from different sources online and I have simply compiled them altogether into one post, I have tried to use multiple sources to ensure all facts are as accurate as possible. I apologise if anything is incorrect. Please feel free to tweet me anything that may be incorrect so I can change it. At the time of writing this post 27/09/20 all of the figures are accurate according to my online sources used. So with that being said… Let’s jump right into it.

Ryan Lee Moore was born on the 18th of September 1983, making him currently 37 years old. Ryan was born into a horse racing family, his grandad Charlie Moore was a well known trainer, his dad is ex jockey and now trainer Gary Moore, he has two jump jockey brothers Jamie and Joshua and his sister Hayley Moore was a top amateur now TV pundit, so overall I would say Ryan being involved in the sport was just meant to be.

Ryan Moore starting riding horses at just 4 years old, he had lessons at his Grandad’s yard and with a pony club. And when he was 12 years old he led National Hunt jockey AP McCoy over hurdles as they schooled some of Ryan’s fathers horses. Ryan later said he was inspired by his drive and dedication stating:

He wanted to ride everything in the yard. His work ethic was huge.

Ryan didn’t always know he wanted to be a jockey, as he very much enjoyed his football and he did in fact have trials for Brighton and Hove Albion as a youngster. However, being a jockey was the direction Ryan went in and he has not looked back since.

Ryan Moore had his first winner at just 16 years old on a horse called Mersey Beat on the 15th May 2000 at Towcester over hurdles for his dad Gary Moore. At this point his mom actually tried to convince Ryan to stay in school and focus on his A-Levels however after just one month of doing his A-Levels he decided to leave and focus on his riding. Ryan also rode a couple of winners for his grandad before he passed away in 2000.

In 2003 Ryan became the British Flat Racing Champion Apprentice before winning his first group race in 2004 on the 29th of August when he won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, followed by a Group 2 in the September in the Mill Reef Stakes on Galleota for Richard Hannon.

In 2006 Ryan then rode his first Group 1 winner in the Juddmonte International at York on Notnowcato for Sir Michael Stoute, this was the year he then first became the British Flat Racing Champion Jockey.

The following year, in 2007, Ryan rode Notnowcato to victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland and then in the Eclipse. During 2007 Ryan rode more winners for Sir Michael Stoute (47 out of his 126) over his then mentor Richard Hannon (33 out of his 126). However Ryan spent 3 months injured so he never retained his jockey championship, instead finishing 3rd. At the end of 2007 Ryan was then offered the position of stable jockey for Sir Michael Stoute.

In 2008 Ryan retained the jockey’s championship and kept it in 2009 also. Over the course of 2009 and 2010 Ryan travelled the world riding in the big races. He won the Breeders Cup, then he won the Derby on Workforce – in a record time – and the Oaks on consecutive days. He then won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Workforce. He later broke his wrist costing him the chance of another jockey championship. However most involved with the sport were already calling him an ‘all-time great’ including former jockey Willie Carson who said he could be as good as Lester Piggott.

In 2011 Ryan’s vision changed. Instead of wanting to retain his jockey championship he wanted to concentrate on fewer bigger races instead so he could focus on his family. At this time he started riding for many celebrity owners including Michael Owen, Paul Scholes, Ashley Cold and Sir Alex Ferguson. He also rode Carlton House to victory in the Dante Stakes at York and 3rd in the Epsom Derby for the Queen. He then finished 2011 by winning on Snow Fairy in a Japanese Grade 1.

It was around November 2011 when rumours starting circulating that Ryan Moore was being lined up to join Aidan O’Brien as his stable jockey. However Ryan didn’t want to move his family from England to Ireland so it was instead agreed that Ryan would stay in England and ride for Aidan O’Brien in Ireland at major meetings. Following this decision, in 2012 Ryan won the 1,000 Guineas on Homecoming Queen and the 2013 Derby on Ruler Of The World for Aidan O’Brien.

In 2015, Joseph O’Brien who was the Ballydoyle number 1 jockey ahead of Ryan was struggling to make the weight to ride in major races, so therefore in the April it was confirmed that Ryan would now ride all the number one horses in Classics and any other major races. By the end of 2017 Ryan had won over 2000 races in Britain.

Now lets talk statistics, races and records.

Firstly, Ryan’s major wins in the 20 years he has been riding. He has won the 2,000 Guineas twice (2015 & 2017), the 1,000 Guineas four times (2012, 2015, 2016 & 2020), the Epsom Derby twice (2010 & 2013), the Epsom Oaks three times (2010, 2016 & 2020), the St Leger Stakes twice (2017 & 2018), the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes twice (2009 & 2016), the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice (2010 & 2016), the Japan Cup once (2013), the Melbourne Cup once (2014) and the Breeders Cup Turf four times (2008, 2009, 2013 & 2015).

At the point of me writing this (27th of September) Ryan has had 2701 winners, including 136 Groups 1’s, 118 Group 2’s, 165 Group 3’s and 170 listed races. He has also placed in 4042 races, including 229 Group 1’s, 173 Group 2’s, 233 Group 3’s and 248 listed races. These are out of 15553 starts, 890 Group 1’s, 643 Group 2’s, 849 Group 3’s and 896 listed races.

So let’s put all of those figures into perspective. Essentially Ryan has won 15.28% of the 890 Group One races he’s started in and he has placed in 25.73% of those 890 starts. Overall meaning he has at least placed or won 41.01% of the 890 Group One races he has started in. So looking at his figures as a whole, Ryan has won 17.37% of the 15553 starts he has had in his career, he has placed in 25.99% of those 15553 starts meaning overall, in the whole of his career he has won or placed in 43.36% of the 15553 starts he has had.

I have searched high and low for an accurate figure of how much Ryan Moore has won in prize money from the beginning of his career until now and the most highly shared is that of $282,026,720 which with today’s exchange rate is the equivalent to £221,284,228.09 over a 20 year period.

Another interesting thing I have found is the winners Ryan has had per trainer he has rode for. Ryan Moore has rode in 2637 races and won 572 of those and placed in 773 for Sir Michael Stoute. Of which 21 were Group One’s, 37 Groups Two’s, 60 Group Three’s and 45 Listed Races. Winning $40,825,902 / £32,032,880.47 in prize money.

In second place is Richard Hannon, where Ryan has rode in 2202 races for Richard Hannon where has won 306 and placed in 528. Of which, only one was a Group One, 7 Group Two’s, 8 Group Three’s and 16 Listed Races. In total he has won $8,472,916 / £6,648,032.06 in prize money for Richard Hannon.

Then comes in Aidan O’Brien in third place, where Ryan has rode in 1186 races and won 271 and placed in 343. However interestingly, maybe, probably predictably, Ryan has won the most amount of money for Aidan totalling $97,425,309 / £76,441,992.09 with a total of 83 Group One wins for Aidan O’Brien, 44 Group Two wins, 53 Group Three wins and 39 Listed Races.

Another interesting set of stats is the Group One races Ryan has won around the world. So number one on the list is Great Britain where he has won 58 Group One’s, Ireland is next with 21, followed closely by France with 18. Next up is USA with 13, Japan with 8, Hong Kong with 6, Canada with 4, UAE with 3, Australia (Victoria) also with 3, Germany and Italy both with 1 and then the three places he has rode in but hasn’t won a Group One is Australia (New South Wales) where he has placed once in seven Group One’s, Singapore where he has placed once in two Group One’s and South Africa where he placed in the one Group One he has had there.

Something I found interesting and wanted to just add in was the horses Ryan has had the most wins on. First up on the list is Galeota who Ryan rode 18 times, won 8 times and placed twice. Secondly is Mostarsil who Ryan rode 21 times, won 8 times and placed twice. Third is Order Of St George who Ryan rode 12 times, won 7 times and placed 3 times.

Following on from that I do want to look at his wins as a percentage. First in that order is Crystal Ocean who Ryan rode 7 times and won 6 times (85.71%) and placed once. Next is Minding who Ryan rode 9 times and won 7 times (77.78%) and placed twice. And third is Envision who Ryan Rode 9 times and won 6 times (66.67%) and placed one.

I have tried to keep this post as neutral as I possibly can using statistics alone to show who Ryan Moore is and how his facts and figures line up. However now I will give a little bit of my opinion and I would love to hear yours over on social media! I think the stats don’t lie, Ryan Moore is a brilliant jockey. I think over the years his priorities have changed – as they would with anyone – due to his children growing up and him wanting to focus on them, however his work ethic is still one of the top in the game. He rides winners for fun and has done for many years and I know many people say “it’s because of the horses he rides” but you can say that about anyone. It isn’t Ryan’s fault that he is given a leg up on some of the best horses around. Apart from the fact Ryan loses whenever I bet on him or put him in my pick 7, I can’t fault him. He is a brilliant jockey, who sometimes gets into a bad position that he can’t get out of – which jockey doesn’t though? Ryan may not be a people person and we all know that from when he’s been interviewed over the years, but there is no doubt about it he is very much a horse person and I love watching him.

Today’s post was a little different for me but I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research into this and I really hope my audience enjoy it. I have a few posts lined up over the next few weeks including more of my Horse Racing History series as well as more posts similar to this where we break down the facts and figures for different jockey’s, flat and National Hunt as well as a stable visit to one of the best National Hunt trainers in the country and a point to point yard where horses are broken in for some of the biggest trainers around so we can have an in depth look at how that is done, which I am super excited for. You can now subscribe to my page to ensure you receive an email every time I post, to do this simple press the ‘Follow zoelouisesmithx.com’ button on the right hand sidebar to this post.

See you all very soon in my next post!

An Interview with 20 Time Champion Jockey AP McCoy

AP McCoy (1)

Hey guys!

Today I am ecstatic to bring to you one of the biggest interviews I have done to date. The legend that is AP McCoy. In my time AP is the best jockey I have witnessed, he is also a brilliant ambassador for the sport and an all round gentleman and for a while now we have been talking and discussing a potential date for when we could get together for an interview and yesterday on the first day of Cheltenham that finally happened! AP has been super supportive of the work I’m doing to reach out and introduce the sport to more people as well as showing people the behind the scenes and the things you may not get to see as a racing fan, which I have found super interesting, so to have the support from someone such as AP is huge for me and genuinely means a lot. I am so thankful to AP for taking some time out of his ridiculously busy day to have a chat with me. I really hope you enjoy!

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Me: When I interviewed Richard Johnson he said he missed you in the dressing room as a friend more than anything, what do you miss the most about Richard?

AP: I miss him torturing me every day to try and make myself better. We actually… even though we were competing against each other every day we were the best of friends. Obviously we were in the weighing room together every day together and we were the very few people in their every single day. Erm, since I’ve retired I’ve been really pleased he’s managed to win the last 4 jockey championships. He’s a great credit to himself and a great credit to the sport. Yeah I really miss competing against him because he always brought out the best in me.

Me: If you could ride one horse that is currently in training, what horse would you choose?

AP: Erm, I think I’d probably like to ride Tiger Roll going into a third Grand National because you know it’s a brilliant story him going on to try and win a third Grand National. Hopefully everything will go okay before then. But yeah, I’d probably say he’s a bit of a people’s horse, he’s a bit of a celebrity in his own rights so he’s probably the one.

Me: Onto the Grand National, do you think the weights have hindered or helped anyone in particular and do you think Tiger Roll can go on to win it?

AP: You know, it’s gonna be a tough task for him but I think he deserves the weight. And what I think and what a lot of bookmakers think is he’s gonna win. He’s a pretty outright favourite in my opinion and seemingly in everyone else’s opinion too.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks horse racing is animal cruelty?

AP: Erm, I never feel like I have to justify this sport to anyone. I think if a few of these protesters outside the Grand National at Aintree and you brought them a horse that was running in the Grand National and tell them to take them home and to look after them, I’d love to see what the reaction is. I don’t have to justify my love for the horses or my care I have for these horses to anyone, especially not someone who has no interest in the actual animal themselves and actually loving the animal and caring for the animal and doing what we do. So I think we spend too much time justifying ourselves to people like that.

Me: Obviously you suffered a lot of injuries during your career, just how important are the Injured Jockey’s Fund?

AP: Yeah the Injured Jockey’s Fund are hugely important, we’re very lucky to have such an organisation for current and past jockeys. It’s something that not every sport has and I think it makes me very proud of horse racing to have such an organisation.

Me: How important was Dave Roberts to your career as a friend and an agent?

AP: Dave Roberts was someone I spoke to every day for twenty odd years, he guided me in the right direction and gave me great advice. He has unbelievable knowledge of the sport and had as much of an obsession in winning as I had and I definitely wouldn’t have won or been half as successful without him.

Me: Do you see any young jockey’s now that could go on to break your record?

AP: I think records always get broken and mine are no different. There are certain things that I think will be obviously harder than others, you know I think in 2002 January to January for 7 years I rode for Martin Pipe who was numerically dominant, I don’t know if jockey’s now will ever be lucky enough to have that support from someone who is as numerically dominant as Martin Pipe was. So to ride 207 winners is something I think will be hard for another jockey to do in a calendar year. I broke Gordon Richard’s record in 2002 for 289 winners in a season and again, that would be tough. I think you need a little bit of luck to stay in one piece to win 20 consecutive jockey Championships so you know, they will need a little luck but it can be done.

Me: As an Irish man, do you ever regret not riding in Ireland more?

AP: No, look I, obviously being from Ireland I left there when I was 20. I spent four and a half years riding for Jim Bolger and that was the making of me. Would I have liked to ride in Ireland more? Yeah, I loved my time in Ireland. But I got into the position in this country where I as champion jockey for a period of time and that became my obsession maintaining that level and that’s why I spent as much time riding here as I did in my career.

Me: Onto the final question, what is your best piece of advice to a young person wanting to follow their dreams?

AP: I’m not from a racing family, you know I have 4 sisters and 1 brother who have never ridden horses in their life so it can happen. And as John Magnier said with Aidan O’Brien it’s hard work and it’s available to anyone you know, if you work hard enough then who know’s what could happen.

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Firstly, again I just want to say a massive thank you to AP for taking time out of his day to speak with me. He was truly a gentleman and I appreciate it so much. Personally I think he is a brilliant ambassador for our sport, not only is he the best jockey I have witnessed in my life time, he is also someone with extensive knowledge in every area of the sport and he is also someone who will make time for anyone, take as many photos that are requested by racing fans, talk to everyone, shake hands with everyone, just all round a brilliant guy.

I am of course ridiculously grateful to be given the opportunity to interview AP and I really hope you have all enjoyed this post!

An Interview with Jonjo O’Neill Jr

JonJo

Hi guys!

Today I am very excited to bring to you an interview with a brilliant up and coming young jockey, Jonjo O’Neill Jr. Jonjo has rode some incredible horses in some incredible races and he is only just getting started, I was lucky enough to interview Jonjo and really get an insight into to him and his career.

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Jonjo: Favourite race, I would say has to be the Martin Pipe Conditional Race at Cheltenham last year. It was my first festival winner and you know, you never forget your first.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Jonjo: I suppose Kauto Star probably in his prime, he is the best horse in the modern era.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Jonjo: Regarding the whip, erm it’s an absolute necessity for a jockey to have a whip. For safety and for encouragement. The whips nowadays are so well padded, they don’t hurt whatsoever, they just make a sound. So yeah, it’s vital for a jockey to carry a whip with them.

Me: JP McManus is obviously a huge name in racing, what is it like riding for him as an owner?

Jonjo: Yes, I feel very lucky to ride for JP, on a relatively regular basis. I have had quite a bit of luck for them in the past couple of seasons and hopefully that can continue. Obviously it’s the most recognised colours in England, Ireland and France probably. He’s great for the sport and got loads of nice horses and it’s great when we have winners for them as they’ve been great supporters of ours and he’s a gentleman.

Me: No pressure, but when I asked Richard Johnson his bet of the season, he said Lostintranslation to win the Betfair Chase, which of course he did, so what is your bet of the season?

Jonjo: Tiger Roll to win the Cross Country Chase would be my bet of the season.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Jonjo: Racing is not cruel, you know, it’s been a sport in this country for centuries. The Queen is involved and has loads of horses. So many influential people. It is not a cruel sport. These horses have been bred for hundreds of years to do this sport. You know, you got horses like Tiger Roll winning two Grand Nationals and going for his third Grand National, you can’t say he doesn’t like racing.

Me: Obviously AP McCoy has regularly played a huge part in the Jackdaws team – How important has it been to your career having someone as good as him to idolise and look up to?

Jonjo: Yeah AP is definitely someone I have looked up to when I was a kid watching racing and he was riding for Dad and JP. We are very lucky to be able to ask advice from him and you know, he is very good like that and he is obviously a top class sportsman and you can only learn from him.

Me: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by your dad?

Jonjo: Best advice would probably be, be good to everyone you meet on the way up because you’ll meet them all again on the way down.

Me: You have rode Native River to win the Denman Chase, my all time favourite horse, how was that for you? How special of a horse is he? What do you think his chances are in the Gold Cup this year? And with a lot of people speculating, do you ever, personally, see him being a National horse?

Jonjo: Yeah, Native River, he was absolutely deadly last weekend. It doesn’t look like he’s lost any sparkle, he won nicely and jumped great. If the ground came up soft in the Gold Cup, he isn’t without a shout, it’s a very open Gold Cup. Whether I think he’d suit a National? He’d definitely suit the National. Whether he goes for it this year or maybe more next year, he looks to be well weighted this year. He got compressed two pounds. You know, it looks like it would suit him down to the ground, but when it’s an open Gold Cup you’d have to chance your arm in the Gold Cup as well.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Jonjo: It would be between the National and the Gold Cup. But I would love to win the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is usually the best horse in the season, it’s the most prestigious race of the season.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Jonjo: Erm, Soaring Glory, he’s won two bumpers and will probably go to Aintree. He’s a very nice horse and hopefully he’ll have more of a future over hurdles next season.

Me: You’re still so young and have already achieved some incredible things, what is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Jonjo: Just take every little bit of advice and help from everyone that has experienced the game. You can never stop learning in racing and you know, it’s full of ups and downs. And you just have to stay grounded, because there are some serious highs and some serious lows as well, so I think just literally take every bit of advice from everyone as it can help all the way down the line.

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Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Jonjo for taking time out of his day to allow me to interview him. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to interview Jonjo and I hope you have all enjoyed reading it!

See you all very soon for my next post!