“There is no doubt that the quality of riders today is a lot to do with those facilities and having those people behind you”
Tell us about yourself and how you got into racing?
I was born in Swaziland, and then moved to Ireland with my parents and brother when I was a teenager. As well as going to school, I started riding out at Aidan O’Brien’s where Dad was working at the time. I got into pony racing and then eventually signed on to Aidan when I was 17, remaining there as an apprentice for about six years until I moved to England in 2011.
You won your first Group One (and Classic!) in 2018 on Billesdon Brook in the 1000 Guineas. How did that feel?
Like most jockeys you start off with a dream of winning the Epsom Derby, and then when you become a jockey riding day in, day out, you start to realise how hard that is! Really good horses are very few and far between and even the best riders can take a long time to win good races, so it’s relief really when you win your first Group One because it becomes like a monkey on your back.
What is your favourite race or memory?
King of Change sticks out for me and winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in 2019. He was a horse we liked right from the beginning, he could have been anything and is one of the best I have ever sat on. Moreover, Her Late Majesty the Queen presented the trophy and that was such a special moment for me.
You have put a lot of hard work in at IJF Centre, Oaksey House in Lambourn. What has it done for you?
I was introduced to Oaksey House on the back of an injury for rehab. When you start out and don’t have a facility like it, you are pretty much on your own in looking after your weight, fitness, nutrition, everything, whereas once you have it, you are not. It has brought the strength and conditioning of jockeys to a very high standard. There is no doubt the quality of riders today is a lot to do with those facilities and having those people behind you.
What are your future goals or aspirations?
I haven’t really yet had the privilege of sitting on a really good one day in day out so that would be a goal. But really, to ride 100 winners in a season as I’ve been trying for a long time now, and weight and injuries have conspired against it. I’m still young and hopefully, have plenty of years left though. My advice to someone like myself would be to learn to enjoy it a bit more!