Tuam, Co. Galway-born jockey Rossa Ryan had a dream first winner at Royal Ascot this afternoon when the top-weight Highland Chief (20/1) claimed a decisive victory in the 10-furlong Golden Gates Handicap.
The win was also a first Royal Ascot success for a training partnership, with Paul and Oliver Cole being responsible for handling Highland Chief. Paul Cole trained 21 Royal Ascot winners when solely responsible for the training licence.
Rossa Ryan, a native of Ballinderry, who is still only 19-years-old, said of his first success at the Berkshire track:
“It has not really sunk in yet. I am a bit shocked that it has happened. I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me to get here today. To ride a winner for the Coles and for Mrs Fitri Hay is incredible.”
Ryan, who rode more than 150 winners on the pony circuit, and who is in his third season in England, continued:
“I was a bit worried coming into today with all the rain that we had. Until I got up on him on the way to the start, he felt like he was going to go on it.”
The young jockey is based mainly with Richard Hannon but spent many summers in Ireland at Willie Mullins’ and Enda Bolger’s yards.
“I learnt more at Enda Bolger’s than anywhere else” admits Ryan, “In my last year of pony racing we decided to take a crack at the Flat if I could keep my weight right and we went from there.”
1.15pm Golden Gates Handicap
1 Highland Chief Paul & Oliver Cole 3-9-07 Rossa Ryan 20/1
2 Tritonic Alan King 3-9-01 Oisín Murphy 9/1
3 Global Strorm Charlie Appleby 3-8-12 William Buick 7/2f
Non-Runners: 3 Laser Show (Self Certificate, temperature); 12 Dogged (Going); 14 Cemhaan (Self Certificate, heat in leg) – replaced by reserve Bronze River who takes number 14
Time: 2m 11.20s