Horse Racing

Steve Jones: Two jockeys, two trainers and two horses to follow in 2022

January 7, 2022

THE New Year brings fresh optimism with racing looking to the future without having to peer through its fingers.

The sport seemed to find more trouble than a hold-up sprinter around Chester during the last 12 months but the action on the track was spectacular.

Racheal Blackmore made sure racing made the frontpages, at least some of the time, for the right reasons.

There’s plenty to look forward to again this year. Here’s half a dozen people and horses who I expect to have a very good 2022.

 

 

Peter Kavanagh (jump jockey)

Latching on to a young jockey’s talents can be rewarding in so many ways.

Spotting their ability before anyone else makes one feel like a bit of a clever dick but it’s also an easy way to help make your punting pay.

The weight claims of young riders can be an unfair advantage to the best of them and Peter Kavanagh looks way better than his 7lbs allowance. That’s not going to last long the way he’s going.

His boss, Donald McCain, is shrewd enough not to waste the 21-year-old’s claim so I’m expecting him to get decent rides in some of the top handicaps.

He’s already attracted the attention of other trainers like Fergal O’Brien and demand for Kavanagh’s skills is only going to increase.

 

Freddie Larson (Flat jockey)

Three years ago Freddie Larson hadn’t even sat on a horse.

He was determined to make it as a professional sportsman but, as a Crystal Palace trainee, his sights were on football stardom rather than racing success.

His size was always going to hamper his Premier League dreams but it has helped him become a most promising apprentice jockey.

Tactically aware and strong in a finish, the 22-year-old is likely to have an excellent year. His boss, Mick Appleby, is still one of the most underrated trainers despite notching up a stack of winners every year and there is likely to be plenty of opportunities for Freddie.

 

Ann Hamilton (jumps trainer)

It would be rude to reveal Ann Hamilton’s age even if I knew it but it’s fair to say if she was a chicken it wouldn’t be of the spring variety.

The farmer’s wife has trained a few jumpers for more than 30 years at her base in Northumberland about 20 miles from Newcastle.

Divet Hill won the Aintree Fox Hunters’ nearly 20 years ago and, more recently, smart Runswick Royal finished runner-up in the Perth Gold Cup but things have gone to a whole different level in recent seasons.

Nuts Well landed the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase last season but she might have an even better one in her small string with red-hot hurdler Tommy’s Oscar. Pay The Piper and Bavington Bob are other smart prospects.

Last season was the first time Ann had even notched a double-figure tally. She’s on course to sail past that dozen winners and is operating at a phenomenal strike-rate approaching 40 per cent.

Whatever changes she has made, it is clearly working and she is sure to continue bringing more jumping success back to the north east this year.

 

Grant Tuer (Flat trainer)

To go through an entire year with a strike-rate of 20 per cent takes some doing.

It helps if you train for Godolphin or have a name like Gosden but when your team adds up to a few dozen horses rather than a few hundred it is a massive achievement.

That makes Grant Tuer’s record last year quite remarkable. Getting horses like Gunnerside, Lion Tower and Out Of Breath to rattle up sequences of wins helped him to 49 winners just five years after taking over the North Yorkshire stables from his father, Edwin.

Punters who stuck a tenner on all of his runners were rewarded with a profit of more than £430.

His yard is an operation clearly on the up. If the snowball continues to roll and he deservedly picks up more owners on the back of such a successful season, then his rise up the ladder will gather more pace.

 

Stellar Magic (jumps horse)

Most ante-post bets end up in the bin eventually.

My speculative punt on Stellar Magic for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival went that way after he pulled up injured at Warwick in February.

I’m sure those losses are only borrowed. He first caught my eye when making it two from two over hurdles when seeing off Alaphilippe at Taunton in January.

He simply floated over the hurdles and Philip Hobbs’ ace showed a cracking attitude to hold the challenge of that smart rival.

His comeback effort when runner-up behind Up For Parol at Haydock just before Christmas was a splendid effort and he appears to have a very bright future.

 

Samburu (Flat horse)

Plenty of top horses have made their debuts at Yarmouth.

Dubai Millennium was one of those to first set hoof on track at the seaside venue before going on to stardom.

Samburu has got an awful long way to go to come close to matching that racing great but he made a perfect start in a backend novice race.

This well-bred colt, trained by John and Thady Gosden, was seemingly unfancied in the betting as an 11-1 shot in the famous Juddmonte colours.

Held up in the rear off a steady gallop he was forced to switch to the far side as he made up ground. The way he picked up in the closing stages despite showing his inexperience was most impressive.

Races like the 2000 Guineas are likely to come too early in his career but there’s no doubt he has the potential to make up into a very smart horse.