Young Jockey Billy Loughnane targets Champion Apprentice for 2023

Jockey Billy Loughnane and his father Mark pictured at Wolverhampton Racecourse

After a meteoric start to his riding career “Billy The Kid”, as he is affectionately known, has ridden out the first part of his claim (getting 20 winners) in only 87 days – which I believe is a record.

He’s already had two trebles at Wolverhampton Racecourse – something that a lot of professional jockeys have never done.

He also sits at the top of the jockey’s table for 2023 with 15 winners and a strike rate of 23%. His record so far:

October 2022 ………7 rides…..  0 Winners…..0% Strike rate

November 2022…..20 rides…..1 Winner…….5% Strike rate

December 2022…..34 rides…..5 Winners….14.71% Strike rate

January 2023 …….65 rides….15 Winners….23.08% Strike rate

“It’s happened so quickly – I didn’t expect it to take off the way it has,” admits Loughnane. “It’s unbelievable, the way things are going.”

Watching the teenage apprentice’s composure in the saddle, it stretches credibility that it was October 24th 2022 when he took his first mount aboard Starfighter, trained by his father, Mark, in a 10-furlong handicap at Newcastle.

“I was really nervous – I was bricking it!” recalls Loughnane. “I had ridden the horse at home and I had ridden at Newcastle pony racing but I knew it would be so different. You’re riding against professional jockeys. They know what they are doing!”

Well from what we’ve seen to date so does Billy. He has ridden beautifully from the front on Haaland, come through horses and held off challengers on Embour and his best ride to date in my opinion was picking his horse up after it clipped heels, got him balanced again and went on to win City Escape:

“Dad’s been a trainer since I was born, so I was brought up around racehorses and ponies – I started riding a rocking horse from day one,” recounts Loughnane.

“Ever since I went to school in Ireland, when I was asked what I wanted to be, it was always a jockey. I did showjumping after we moved to England and did that until I was 13 but I always wanted to do pony racing – that was the main goal.

“So I started pony racing when I was 13 and raced up until October, when I was champion pony rider.”

His 20th success, secured aboard Glorious Angel at Newcastle on Friday, reduced Loughnane’s riding allowance from 7lb to 5lb. The young jockey’s claim is a finite resource – it shrinks to 3lb after 50 victories and disappears altogether after 95.

So an imminent working holiday in America with Miami-based trainer David Meah will preserve Loughnane’s subsidy until the start of the 2023 turf campaign, when the aim is a challenge for the apprentice championship.

“I just want to ride as many winners as possible,” admits Loughnane. “But my agent, Sash Righton, my jockey coach, Rodi Greene, dad and I had a meeting to finalise what we were going to do.

“I’ll go out in the first or second week of February and stay for three to four weeks. I will ride work there, try to learn a bit more about pace and try to get better for when I come back.

“To protect my 5lb claim, and to give myself the best chance of having a go at the apprentice title in the summer – that’s my main goal – we have to take a bit of a break. I didn’t know if I’d be good enough to have a go at it this year, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”



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