Richard, you’ve made a flying start to All-Weather Championships Season 8. Has that come as a surprise?
In some ways. I’ve always spent my winters riding on the All-Weather – it’s my bread and butter – and have ridden plenty of winners on it but I just seemed to hit the ground running in October and early November. Ralph Beckett had plenty of nice horses to run at that time and I was lucky enough to get on the majority of them. At one stage I had eight winners from nine rides for him, including a Group 3 on Lullaby Moon in France.
You’ve ridden winners for a variety of different trainers since then.
My agent Guy Jewell does a great job and has kept me busy. It’s all about getting on the right horses and, yes, I’ve been lucky enough to ride other winners for Marco Botti, Stuart Williams, Ian Williams and Hughie Morrison among others, as well as for the boss (Tom Dascombe), of course. Sir Michael Stoute puts me up and I’ve enjoyed a good record for him over recent years (19 per cent). It was special to ride him a Group 3 winner in the summer (Regal Reality) and I’m picking up a few for him on the All-Weather, too.
Are you setting your sights on winning the Championship after such a good run of form?
Definitely. It’s something I’ve got to take seriously. I’ll be around for most of the winter because I’ve got a new house to pay for so I won’t be missing much racing. The top jockeys like James Doyle, William Buick and Oisin Murphy will be overseas but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. David Probert is riding plenty of winners and Hollie Doyle is showing no signs of slowing up.
Tom’s horses have been in good form and Misty Grey has emerged as an exciting prospect for some of the top races in the New Year.
Misty Grey is very exciting. He’s won both races for us since arriving from Mark Johnston. I think the change of scenery has just freshened him up. I had a spin on him at Wolverhampton before he won there the first time and was impressed by the feel he gave me. It was no surprise when he won over 7f that day and he opened up the options when he dropped back to win again over 6f.
Is he a genuine Good Friday contender?
Now he’s got his confidence he could easily progress further. It’s up to Tom and his owners to decide but I’d like to think he could become a contender for the Sprint Final on Good Friday. He’s up to a mark of 99 now and has the class to build on that. Lingfield would suit him as he travels well and likes to be handy. Now he’s proven himself over 7f around Wolverhampton he could go for the Listed race (the Lady Wulfruna Stakes) there in March, too.
There’s something poetic about your old friend Kachy’s half-brother Bakersboy being aimed at Finals Day, too.
Bakersboy is owned by the same person, Dave Lowe, but is very different to Kachy. He was very professional from the beginning but this lad is much bigger and has taken more time but the penny is dropping. Racing around the bends at Wolverhampton has done him the world of good because it’s taken him out of his comfort zone. Considering he’d only had two runs he did very well in the Fast Track Qualifier there. He got raised 11lb for finishing fifth but ending the year on a mark of 89 puts him on course for those better races.
After the tragic loss of Kachy, the Sprint Champion, it would be nice to go back to Finals Day with another live chance in those same emerald green silks.
Yes, it would be lovely for Dave and his family and Tom (Dascombe) if we could get there with Bakersboy. Dave’s very enthusiastic about All-Weather racing so it would mean a lot to him to keep the story going. Kachy’s an impossible horse to replace but to be able to turn up with a chance on Good Friday with his half-brother would be quite special for us all.
Kachy’s ill-fated appearance at Lingfield Park in February must have been one of the lowest points of your career.
Without a doubt. He was one of the best horses I have ever ridden and was such a good friend so it was a very sad day. I’ve only ever had three horses fatally injured on the track and one of the others was Brown Panther, who gave me my first Group 1. I will always remember Kachy for his blistering natural speed from the gates. When we got it right he was unbeatable. He had the others cooked by half way. It was a brilliant feeling.
Another potential Good Friday contender is Ralph Beckett’s Kinross, who won the Listed Hyde Stakes at Kempton Park in November – a Fast Track Qualifier for Finals Day. Can become the Champion Miler?
Kinross has been frustrating but is a classy horse on his day and was able to show his true talent at Kempton. He’ll be a great ride to have if Ralph decides to let him take his chance. He’s a strong traveller who likes to come through horses. The cut-away helped him at Kempton as the race opened up perfectly but Lingfield’s a very different test. Sometimes you need a lot of luck around there.
Horses aren’t your only passion, of course. You have a penchant for horse power of a different kind.
I love my motorbikes. I’ve got a Yamaha R6 which is a full track bike. I’ve considered having a go at the newcomers’ series but I’m more into track days than racing. In the new year I’m off to Spain for a few days with my brother Karl to ride on the track at Almeria. We’ve been there before and I’m really looking forward to going back and losing myself for a few days.
You clearly thrive on speed, whether it’s on horseback or on a motorbike.
It’s not so much the speed but the acceleration that appeals to me. Bursting out of the stalls on Kachy and going through the gears was such a thrill and it’s the same when you’re getting up to top speed on a racing circuit like Donnington Park or Oulton Park. It’s exhilarating.
How long have you been riding bikes?
I started around the same time as I became an apprentice about 15 years ago. It’s a great release from the pressures of being a jockey and these days I get just as much pleasure from working on my bike as I do riding it. During the first lockdown JETS (Jockeys’ Education and Training Scheme) supported me on a training course with a mechanic in Hungerford. He’s a suspension specialist who taught me such a lot about taking an engine apart but I’ve still got so much to learn.
It seems that fast bikes and fast horses are set to make the new year an exciting one for you.
I hope so. I’ll keep grafting hard and hope the winners keep on coming. If I’m lucky enough to win the Championship, or ride a winner on Finals Day, it’ll be a bonus. I just consider myself fortunate to be getting up and going to work every day at a time when many people aren’t able to. Dr Jerry Hill, the BHA’s Chief Medical Adviser, deserves a lot of credit for the part he played in getting racing back on in the summer. Our sport is very much in his debt in my opinion so it’s important we don’t take what we have for granted right now, whether we’re winning or not.
KINGSCOTE ALL-WEATHER FACTFILE:
Best Year: 2016, 2020 (51)
Best All-Weather Championships Season: 2016-17 (40) 4th place
Winning Most Track: Wolverhampton (241)
Best Horse: Kachy.
Biggest wins: AWC Sprint Final 2019 (Kachy); Listed Cleves Stakes 2018, 2019 (Kachy); Golden Rose Stakes 2012 (Ballista); Lady Wulfruna Stakes 2012 (Libys Dream).
*Statistics accurate as of 18th December 2020.