Top jockeys set to shine in 2023

From Frankie Dettori’s farewell tour, the return of former champion Oisin Murphy and the promise of young stars such as Taylor Fisher, Jack Hogan and Harry Kimber – 2023 looks set to feature plenty of thrills and spills from those in the saddle.

Flat jockeys to follow

The final farewell

The cameras have always followed Frankie Dettori around but there will be extra focus on the 52-year-old next year as he heads around the racing circuit for the final time.

In true Dettori fashion, he will be seeking to go out under a shower of confetti in the California sun at the Breeders’ Cup.

Before then, he will have his eyes on adding to his 21 British Classic titles as well as completing a full set of British Group Ones with victory in the July Cup.

Back on board

February 16 is the big date for Oisin Murphy as the former champion jockey prepares to make a return to the track after serving his 14-month ban for breaching Covid-19 regulations and failing two breath tests.

Perhaps crucial to Murphy’s fortunes in 2023 will be the continuation of his relationship with powerful owners Qatar Racing, who vowed to stand by their man when news of the ban surfaced.

Murphy is sure to have his sights set on scoring again on the biggest stages such as Royal Ascot in June.

Oisin Murphy

Oisin Murphy will return to the track in February having served his 14-month suspension

Runs in the family

2022 was a year to remember for Saffie Osborne with a career-best tally of winners and a healthy prize-money haul, including a £20,000 bonus secured with a dramatic 6500/1 treble on the final day of the Racing League.

That triumph, which sealed the team title for Wales and The West – managed by her father Jamie, highlighted Osborne’s ability to stay cool under pressure and she boasts an impressive contact book of top trainers wanting to utilise her talents, including Clive Cox, Ed Walker, Gay Kelleway and George Boughey.

Yorkshire-based Joanna Mason has been checking a number of landmarks off her list, riding out her claim and surpassing 100 career winners in 2022.

Another big year awaits Mason, granddaughter of legendary trainer Mick Easterby, as she looks to add some big-race wins to her increasingly-impressive CV.

Saffie Osborne holds aloft the Racing League champion jockeys trophy

Saffie Osborne holds aloft the Racing League champion jockeys trophy

King of the sand

Armed with a new agent – his partner Megan Nicholls – and a burning desire to boost his numbers, Kevin Stott switched to being a freelance rider in 2022 and has reaped the rewards.

The 28-year-old smashed through the century mark and the £1m prize-money barrier for the first time in his career and has a commanding lead in the All-Weather jockeys’ championship.

With Nicholls’ help, Stott has developed new relationships with powerful trainers Roger Varian and George Boughey and will pick up some very nice rides in both the north and south of the country in the new year.

Kevin Stott

Kevin Stott went freelance in 2022 and recorded a career-best tally of winners

The future is bright

It has been a dream first year in the saddle for 18-year-old Taylor Fisher, notching up an impressive 22 winners and confirming his place as one of the most exciting young riders in either code.

Based with Archie Watson, Fisher has already spoken about his ambitions to become champion apprentice in 2023, following a similar path to his good friend and 2022 runner-up Harry Davies.

Perhaps notably, Fisher in fact shares an agent with Benoit de la Sayette – the jockey that pipped Davies to the title.

Two years Fisher’s junior, Billy Loughnane burst onto the scene late in 2022, recording his first winner – for father and trainer Mark – at Wolverhampton in November, kickstarting a magnificent run which saw his tally for the year-end of six.

Loughnane senior has, on more than one occasion, proudly proclaimed his son as the “best value for his 7lb claim in the whole country” and his record on the track does little to put anyone off that view.

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Young jockey Billy Loughnane, 16, spoke to Sky Sports Racing about his ‘idol’ Tom Marquand and ambitions of being champion apprentice

Jump jockeys to follow

Title challenge: Take two?

Barring a late-season injury to defending champion Brian Hughes, the title challenge of Sean Bowen this season looks likely to fall short.

Despite that, Bowen can hold his head high and be proud of what is set to be a career-best campaign and it may be that he comes again stronger next season.

The added job of now riding Grand National winner Noble Yeats will excite the 25-year-old as he could be aboard a genuine Gold Cup contender in 2023.

Sean Bowen

Sean Bowen has given chase to Brian Hughes in the race to be champion jumps jockey

Master and the apprentices

At 41 years old, Paddy Brennan could have plenty of racing still ahead of him but the Gold Cup-winning rider has begun to drop the occasional hint that retirement could be closing in.

When that time does come, top trainer Fergal O’Brien could be left to look for a new stable jockey to call upon, with a number of talented riders already waiting in the wings.

Both Connor Brace and Liam Harrison have proved to be consistently useful, but 2022 also saw O’Brien frequently utilise the talented services of Jack Hogan and that partnership could well go from strength to strength.

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Paddy Brennan says his will to win has often resulted in weighing room outbursts and explained how trainers Jim Bolger and Philip Hobbs played a key role in his development as a jockey

Big shoes to fill

Jordan Gainford has wasted no time trying to fill the shoes of legendary jumps rider Davy Russell following his retirement.

Russell’s exit has presented Gainford with a number of big-race opportunities and the young jockey has already snapped up his first Grade One victory for the Gordon Elliott team, with the promise of many more to come.

With Elliott boasting such a large array of talent in his stable, expect Gainford to handed plenty more big Saturday rides on some household names.

Bar set high

The form of Ben Pauling and Kielan Woods has been one of the best stories of the 2022/23 jumps campaign with the pair operating consistently above a 20 per cent strike rate and each smashing past the 50-winner mark for the first time.

Last season saw the pair combine for Cheltenham Festival success with Global Citizen and they could well go under the radar as the spring festivals come around again.

Conditionals with class

Also contributing to the Pauling team’s success is leading conditional rider Luca Morgan who is repaying Pauling’s longstanding faith in him with 29 winners and counting this season.

Giving chase to Morgan is the highly talented Harry Kimber, who boasts an impressive 24 per cent strike rate for trainer Joe Tizzard.

The Tizzard yard are blessed with a wealth of young riding talent that now also include Tizzard’s 17-year-old nephew Freddie Gingell.