Current champion, David Egan, is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since Gary Bardwell in 1987/88; while a host of new, hungry riders look to wrestle the crown from his grasp.
We profile the top apprentices in the competitive mix for one of the most prestigious prizes in the sport.
William Buick, David Probert and Oisin Murphy all have two things in common. Not only have they all been Stobart Champion Apprentice but they all also began their careers under the tutelage of Andrew Balding.
With both Josh Bryan and the talented Jason Watson making waves in the Apprentice ranks this season, it’s clear to see that his Kingsclere yard remains is a perfect academy for young riding prospects.
Bryan may have less winners than the rest of the jockeys on this list, but his strike rate of 14% puts him up there as one of the deadlier. His talents have also been most apparent lately when riding against fellow apprentices; the five-pound claimer notched up a pair of apprentice handicap wins at Windsor and Chepstow, creeping ever closer to 50 career winners in the process.
It is often said that winning is a habit and Jane Elliot certainly has picked up that habit of late. Her apparent ability to eke out every drop of energy from her mount makes her one of the most exciting apprentices riding right now.
Elliot is currently joint top of the Silk Series leaderboard and her 15% strike rate for the season shows that she’s in a rich vein of form. Elliot is a keen advocate of the Silk Series stating that “It’s great to be leading the Silk Series, it’s a series I’d love to win as it’s great PR for female jockeys.”
The young rider has profited from forming relationships with a large number of trainers during the winter months. “I was quiet over the winter but kept in with good contacts for the summer so as soon as the turf season started I was lucky to be in a position to ride plenty of horses with good chances.”
Based with Nigel Tinkler in the racing heartland of Malton, North Yorkshire; 19-year-old Edmunds has come a long way in the saddle in a short space of time.
Having just had four rides under rules in 2016, Edmunds burst onto the scene last year notching up a hugely impressive 51 winners from January to December.
2018 has seen the Edmunds carry on that good form with 24 winners to his name so far and 14 registered in the Stobart Apprentice Jockeys Championship. Given his rapid rate of success to date, it won’t be long until he rides out his claim and sets out in the professional ranks.
Former National schoolboy boxer Rodriguez began life in the saddle working for Richard Ford before heading to the illustrious Northern Racing College at Doncaster to further his learning and obtain his riding license.
Now based with Group One-winning trainer Michael Dods, the 21-year-old Rodriguez has set his sights firmly on following up a breakout 2017 campaign with another solid season of progress.
Rodriguez has built up strong relationships with a host of trainers across the UK and has hit a rich seem of Summer form with 5 winners to his name in the last fortnight alone.
While Rodriguez’s career is undoubtedly progressing at a rapid rate, one memory from last Summer will remain a career highlight. On board the Iain Jardine-trained Nakeeta, Rodriguez won the hugely prestigious Ebor Handicap at York, showcasing all his talent as he navigated the then six-year-old into contention before squeezing every last drop of effort to win the valuable prize by a head.
He’ll no doubt be aiming to make more big race headlines this season.
The pocket rocket who hails from the Ilse of Arran has been firing home the winners in the last couple of weeks and now finds herself one win away from 60 career victories.
Currie is presently based with former three-time champion jockey Richard Hughes and couldn’t have a better mentor to learn her craft from.
That said, Currie has forged good relationships with plenty of trainers and is making the most of all the outside rides she’s receiving.
One such ride which could propel Currie to the next level is the exciting Angel Mead, trained by Joe Tuite. The two-year-old filly is highly rated by the yard and showed an abundance of talent to land a hot Novice event at Newbury last week. A tilt at the Group 3 Dick Poole at Salisbury was touted after the race by the trainer and Currie will no doubt be keen to retain the ride.
Right up at the head of affairs in the Apprentice title race is the highly-touted Jason Watson.
Jason is presently based with Kingsclere master Andrew Balding and has notched up 18 winners this season, turning plenty of heads in the process. To put it into perspective, that puts him ahead of Group 1 winning jockeys, Hayley Turner and Pat Dobbs.
Looking at the longer-term outlook at his career Watson understands that although he might not win the Apprentice Jockeys Championship he has to take advantage of his ever-growing reputation saying, “If you can get your face in the picture and get yourself out there, it’s going to make all the
different in the future”.