Every year, racing’s young apprentice jockeys do battle for the prestigious crown of ‘Stobart Champion Apprentice’, awarded to the apprentice jockey who has ridden the most winning horses – both turf and all-weather – during the flat turf season.
The award dates back to 1922 and in recent times names such as William Buick, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy and Josephine Gordon have all lifted the prize, highlighting that the honour is historically a good indicator of successful jockeys for the future.
This year’s competition has been stormed by Jason Watson, with the 18-year-old Brighton-born rider collecting the award after racking up his 71st win of 2018 on the 8th of October (Watson has now recorded 77 wins). As a result of his breakthrough campaign, Watson has been cut from as high as 100-1 to 16-1 across iPhone gambling apps to win the 2019 Stobart champion jockeys’ title – putting him as the joint-fifth favourite.
With Watson shaping up to give the big prize a crack next year, its further proof that the illustrious award for apprentice jockeys can act as a catalyst for even greater success.
With that in mind, here we turn our attention to the pick of next year’s apprentices. Here’s our top five up and coming jockeys to keep your eye on in 2019:
Providing Jamie Gormley stays as an apprentice, he’ll be a candidate to win the title of Champion Apprentice next year.
A promising rider on the Northern circuit, Gormley has ridden 39 winners in 2018 and with Watson taking out his full professional licence for the New Year, Jamie stand as good a chance as any of the other young jockeys to win the 2019 award.
The 19-year-old son of six-time Champion Jockey Kieren Fallon rode his first winner at Leicester in September, in the saddle of 25-1 outsider Plucky Dip in what was only Fallon’s third ride.
An apprentice to the powerful Willie Haggis stable, Fallon Jr is clearly a chip off the old block, but time will tell if he can leave the same kind of legacy as his father who had more than 2,700 winners in his career.
A moment he will never forget – Cieren Fallon, son of great champion jockey Kieren, wins his first race on only his third ride aboard 25-1 chance Plucky Dip at Leicester. pic.twitter.com/BAv1yYUHr4
— Racing UK (@racing_uk) September 24, 2018
Ben Sanderson is apprentice to astute handicap plotter Roger Fell and has ridden 16 winners in 2018.
Look for that number to increase in 2019 as Fell and Sanderson are a partnership worth keeping an eye on next year.
Joshua Bryan is another apprentice to the yard of Andrew Balding, which has churned out a conveyor belt of champion apprentices, including this year’s winner Watson.
As the latest graduate of perhaps the finest apprentice academy there is, don’t be surprised if Bryan enjoys a breakout 2019.
Shane M. Crosse rode his first winner as a 16-year-old back in April and his first career double at Galway in September, just days before turning seventeen.
Crosse is getting plenty of rides for the powerful stables of Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien and is another young rider who is sure to have a big twelve months in 2019.