Conditional Jockeys' Championship - The Frontrunners

Features | 19th January 2022

The race to be crowned champion conditional jockey is hotting up.

Jump racing’s best young riders are battling it out for the coveted award as the season enters its final months.

The title has been won in the past by Sir AP McCoy, Richard Johnson and Paddy Brennan. More recently Harry Cobden, Bryony Frost and Jonjo O’Neill jnr have all ended the season as champion conditional.

With just over three months left of the season there is all still to play for. Kevin Brogan leads the way but there are several other jockeys hunting him down with the title in their sights.

Here’s a rundown of the ‘Fab Four’ young guns fighting it out to be champion conditional:

Kevin Brogan

Age: 21

Twitter: @kevinbrogan109

Instagram: brogan109

Irishman Kevin is in his second season since moving to Britain to join Cotswolds‐based trainer Jonjo O’Neill.

He returned a healthy 23 winners last term when he impressed with his stylish handling of some of jumping’s trickier customers.

A Chepstow double in early December this season saw him breeze past that total. Kevin quickly went on to add another three victories on Vee Dancer, trained in Ireland by Ronan McNally, in the space of nine days on the run up to Christmas.

His boss, Jonjo, has supplied the lion’s share of his winners but he has teamed up successfully with up‐and‐coming trainers Toby Lawes and Adrian Wintle.

Ben Pauling, Harry Fry and Neil Mulholland have also been regular supporters.

His 3lbs weight allowance is likely to remain intact heading into the spring festivals and he is sure to be in demand as he attempts to hang on to his lead in the race to be champion conditional jockey.

Liam Harrison

Age: 19

Twitter: @LiamHarrisonNH

Instagram: _liamharrison

Teenager Liam has developed into one of the most impressive young jump jockeys over the last couple of seasons.

Having started off as an amateur, he booted home 14 winners after turning conditional last season. He’s already doubled that tally this term and is perfectly poised to mount a strong challenge for the conditionals’ title.

His ride when winning on Timberman at Kempton in November showcased his talents perfectly. He judged the pace superbly, sitting way off the fast gallop before unleashing his mount with a beautifully‐timed winning run.

Liam’s boss Fergal O’Brien, based high above Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, is sure to supply plenty more ammunition, while continuing to ensure he gets full value out of his 3lbs claim.

Ian Williams is another trainer to help Liam to an impressive 23 per cent strike‐rate. That puts him up there with most of the best jump jockeys this season.

Dedicated, tactically aware and strong in a finish, it’s not hard to see why Liam has been so successful this season.

Fergus Gregory

Age: 22

Twitter: @Fergus_gregory2

Instagram: fergusgregory

It’s more than five years since Fergus rode his first winner and he’s finally getting a clear run to show what he can do in the saddle.

Since that Boxing Day success for Paul Webber in 2016, his progress has been hampered by injuries. He caught the eye of several good judges after a move to Olly Murphy’s flourishing stable in the heart of Shakespeare country near Stratford‐upon‐Avon but a run of bad luck has stopped him hitting the heights until now.

He’s already passed his previous season’s best total and last month he notched up his 75th career winner to ride out his conditional jockey’s claim.

Life without a weight allowance is always a crucial time for a young rider but he has the backing of a powerful stable and he has started the New Year well.

This is his last crack at the conditionals title and it would only take a good run of form to give him a great chance of landing the crown.

Mitch Bastyan

Age: 23

Twitter: @MitchBastyan

Instagram: mitchbastyan

Mitch looked destined for the top when he burst onto the jumping scene as a fresh‐faced teenager riding the likes of Court Minstrel and On Tour to big‐race victories.

The fact he is still a conditional four years later is solely down to weight problems that got too much for him and forced the 23‐year‐old to take a break from riding.

Now he is back riding better than ever with his weight under control and in boss Milton Harris he has found a kindred spirit.

They both have points to prove and there’s little doubt their combined success this season has set the record straight.

Mitch, the son of a Royal Marine, is closing in on his season’s best 24 winners, achieved in 2018, and he has impressed when twice winning on Triumph Hurdle hope Knight Salute.

With the backing of an in‐form yard he could easily close the gap between him and the pacesetters in the conditional jockeys’ title.