The Race To be Champion Apprentice

Features | 30th April 2023

The race to be this year’s Champion Apprentice jockey looks a red-hot contest. Here’s a look at the leading contenders for this year’s crown.

The riding stars of the future will battle it out for the coveted Champion Apprentice title that’s been won in the past by the likes of Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Oisin Murphy.

Here we run through the rising stars who could vie for this year’s Champion Apprentice crown.

1. Benoit de la Sayette

Reigning champion apprentice Benoit will be aiming to win back-to-back titles this summer. He got the better of a pulsating battle with Harry Davies last year and he kicks off this season closing in on riding out his 3lbs claim.

John and Thady Gosden are sure to supply plenty of ammunition but theirs is not the only powerful yard taking advantage of Benoit’s tactical nous and strength in the saddle.

Kevin Philippart de Foy, George Scott and David Menuisier have all given the 20-year-old a good number of winning rides. Cieren Fallon was the last dual apprentice title winner when he retained the trophy three years ago.

Benoit will not be giving up the title without huge fight.

Benoit de la Sayetter
Reigning Champion Apprentice, Benoit de la Sayette

2. Harry Davies

Despite losing out to Benoit de la Sayette in the champion apprentice race last year, there is no doubting Harry’s talents. He made a big impact riding for some of the country’s very top trainers.

Attached to Andrew Balding’s yard that was instrumental in helping Oisin Murphy, David Probert and Jason Watson to become champion apprentice, he was also supported by Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, Hugo Palmer and Charlie Fellowes.

The 18-year-old could easily go one better and claim the apprentice’s title he went close to landing last year.

Harry Davies
Harry Davies will be looking to go one better this season after finishing as runner-up in 2022.

3. Billy Loughnane

Few young jockeys have made such an immediate impact as Billy.

Despite only having his first ride in October, he took racing by storm during the winter months. A star of the pony racing circuit, the teenager has looked a natural race rider with talents way beyond his limited experience.

The son of trainer Mark Loughnane rattled up 41 winners to run away with the All-Weather Championships apprentice title. Incredibly, his total was the sixth highest of any rider.  After a spell working in America, he has picked up where he left off.

Heading into the summer he is certain to be in huge demand, not only in the big handicaps where his diminishing weight claim will be invaluable, but seven days a week

Billy Loughnane
Billy Loughnane - winner of the All-Weather Champion Apprentice title over the winter months

4. Connor Planas

Many good judges were impressed with Connor’s riding as he developed into a capable apprentice last year.

Now attached to Classic-winning trainer George Boughey, he looks set for an even more fruitful summer and the 19-year-old could well be a player in the apprentices’ title race.

After a winter spent riding in Dubai, he has hit the ground running since returning to Britain. His 5lbs weight claim and effective riding style will make him a popular apprentice this summer.

As well as Boughey’s powerful stable, he has been picking up rides for the likes of Ian Williams, Tom Clover and rookie trainer Ollie Sangster

Connor Planas

5. Alec Voikhansky

Richard Hannon and his father before has helped shape the career of many top riders. Ryan Moore, Tom Marquand, Hollie Doyle and Rossa Ryan all spent their formative years at the powerful Wiltshire stables.

Alec has been impressing throughout the early months of the year. He recently rode a double at Windsor and the 19-year-old looks likely to kick on into the summer.

Hannon is sure to provide plenty more winners and he has also been successful for the likes of Gary Moore, Mick Appleby and Kevin Frost. The future looks bright for this young 7lbs-claiming jockey