Apprentice Championship – A good year 2023

Unlike many years this year is special. Special because there is a visible changing of the guard in the ranks of horse racing jockeys.

Frankie Dettori, mister 7, probably the greatest jockey ever to ride; yes Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery and Willie Carson were all brilliant and Ryan Moore is brilliant, Frankie has done things none of those have done and on completely even horses in a race would beat all the afore mentioned jockeys. My opinion! It is his last season and he will be missed.

Other really good jockeys like Joe Fanning, Jim Crowley and Rab Havlin are nearing or at the end of their careers.

So who are the up and coming wannabees:

Well let’s look at the current Apprentice Championship table:

There is real talent in the above table as there has been since Tom Marquand broke through, Hollie Doyle and Marco Ghiani with Will Buick and James Doyle before them.

BENOIT DE LA SAYETTE (The French Wizz Kid)

Benoit De La Sayette

De La Sayette, 19, is the hottest property in racing, is being hailed as the next Frankie, after becoming the first apprentice champion trainer John ‘The Boss’ Gosden has hired in 30 years.

And the supremely talented British-born youngster is busy repaying that faith by leading the way in his title duel with another young gun Harry Davies, who also has big name backing (see later).

The pair are currently neck and neck in the battle to be top apprentice — but they are also head and shoulders above the rest of the young up and comers.

De La Sayette has already ‘done a Frankie’ too after having his own brush with a cocaine scandal.

However his record since bouncing back from his ban is certainly not to be sniffed at.

De La Sayette said: “The Boss has been brilliant. I did some work experience at the yard and I asked him one day what his opinion was of me. It was amazing when he said ‘I’d quite like you to be my apprentice’. It was unbelievable and he’s stood by me ever since”.

“Frankie’s a very big help too, especially in the changing room. He’s always giving me tips on how to ride the different tracks. Not many people get experience like that, do they! But also Rab Havlin at the same time. It’s great to have guys like Frankie and Rab giving you a helping hand”.

De La Sayette said: “I take all the rides I can get, I’m going for the championship!

“Harry might get more rides than me, but I’m not being selective on purpose. At the end of the day, it’s winners that count.

De La Sayette has also been backed by the likes of George Scott and David Menuisier, while one of De La Sayette’s biggest fans is another with a luxurious name — Kevin Philippart De Foy.

Newmarket trainer De Foy is himself building a big reputation and gave the young jockey his first winner — Hint Of Stars at Newcastle in December 2020.

De Foy said: “Benoit has very good hands when he rides.


Harry Davies

Harry Davies is the son of an ex champion apprentice Stephen Davies, however he never really knew his dad as he left his Mum when he was a baby, and unfortunately died recently.

Sadly, the pair, in Harry’s words, ‘did not have much of a relationship’ and Stephen passed away at his home in south Wales after being diagnosed with throat cancer.

Welshman Stephen was a Group 1 winner who rode for acclaimed trainers such as the late Henry Cecil and Sir Michael Stoute.

So today Harry is following in his father’s footsteps in trying to be Champion Apprentice. He is apprentice to Andrew Balding, one of the most powerful stable in the country and one with the most horses in training.

In addition to riding some nice types for his retained trainer he has been called on by more than 13 other trainers for his services. Of those most notably by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, which is a stamp of approval you wouldn’t turn your nose up at.


Billy Loughnane

Billy burst on the scene last winter banging in winners at an astounding rate. He was All Weather apprentice champion with 41 winners with Ryan Sexton second best with 15. In fact he was so successful that in January he decided to protect his claim and go and ride in the USA.

Trainer Dad, David Loughnane said “We might just stop at the end of January. Billy Loughnane could head to America for three weeks in order to protect his claim ahead of the Flat season…”

The teenage star made his breakthrough on the pony racing circuit and his old man was the first to believe in him.

He gave him his first rides and they were a pair to be feared across the winter. Soon other trainers wanted in and now the likes of George Boughey, Richard Spencer and George Scott regularly use him.

Loughnane, who already has career earnings on the track of just under £500,000, said: “I still ride out a couple of days a week at home with dad.

“But then I go to George Boughey’s one day a week and a few other trainers throughout the week.

“I need to make as many contacts as I can to try and give the championship a real go. That’s my big goal this year and I’ll give it my all”.

Without a retained large trainer Billy will really need the support of that contact network if he is going to be competitive with his two big rivals.


Mark Winn Jockey

Is the outsider from the North! Apprentice to David O’Meara; the genius at getting winners in large field valuable handicaps and also at improving horses he gets. Plenty of smaller Northern trainers like Peter Niven are also seeing Mark’s worth with him still able to claim 5lbs.

A winner today for Peter was his 21st win of the year and he is now four shy of his career-best tally he achieved in 2022 – and he is now three victories shy of his reducing his claim to 3lb.

“Momentum is something you need and we’ve had a good start this year,” he added. “I’m happy and hopefully it keeps on going. I hope it only gets better and I keep on riding winners.”

Winn is a rare talent and is riding as well as any of the above but he may have to return South for one of the big boys if he is to make it to being either Apprentice or Champion Jockey.



Laura Pearson Jockey

Back after a nasty injury to her neck she is a Royal Ascot winner and apprentice to John Ryan. Clearly a talent she will need some breaks in the next few years to be able to beak through as one of the best of her generation. She has every chance of being the next Hollie Doyle or be one of those female jockeys who just gets away.


Johnny Peate

He is an apprentice jockey to Charlie Johnston in Middleham, North Yorkshire; one of the most powerful stables not only in the North but across the UK.

He is one of the most promising British horse riders as of now.

Who will be Champion Apprentice 2023?

Well if he doesn’t go off the rails again Benoit De La Sayette should win and do so reasonably comfortably. He will be afforded better rides and more of them and he is Southern based.

His biggest rival is likely to be Harry Davies who has the backing of the largest UK stables and as long as he can get rides form other big stables he should ride a lot of winners.

Billy The Kid needs to gain a reputation as the go to for smaller stables and then ride them winners. Without that network and support he will have little chance of winning the title.

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