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Old 28-01-23, 05:30   #1
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Movies Billy Loughnane:16-Yr Old Jockey Taking Flat Racing by Storm

Billy Loughnane: The Teenage Jockey Taking Flat Racing by Storm

He's too young to drive a car. But 16-Yr Old Billy Loughnane doesn't need wheels - he rides racehorses at 40mph.

BBC 28 JAN 2023

Jockey Billy Loughnane
Loughnane already has more than 20 winners in 2023

The apprentice jockey is taking the flat racing world by storm, with more than 20 winners since the start of January, putting him top of the flat jockey standings in Britain.

He has won around one in four of the races he has ridden in, and has earnt more than 100,000 in prize money.

"It's extraordinary, no one expected it to be like this. It's taken off really, it's amazing," he told BBC Sport.

"I try to take every day as it comes, and try to ride the winners on the day but when you do have a look back it's class, I've got no other words.

"It's amazing the way it's happened, and to be riding some winners for dad [racehorse trainer Mark Loughnane] and some massive trainers now as well it's great."

Loughnane has been riding since he was a toddler and gained experience of race riding on the pony racing circuit.

But he rode his first race as an apprentice jockey in November, with his first winner coming later that month.

He said becoming a jockey has always been his dream, and has long idolised fellow flat jockey Tom Marquand, who was champion apprentice in 2015.

"I've been working towards this for the last 16 years of my life. Ever since I could walk I was riding, ever since I could talk I was saying I wanted to be a jockey, so it's been the main goal."

Loughnane is preparing to take a pause from race riding, in order to protect his 5lb claim - a weight allowance given to inexperienced jockeys - for this summer, in the hope it will get him rides in the prestigious races on turf.

He will travel to Miami in early February to gain more experience in the saddle.

But already his rapid rise has got some of the biggest names in the sport circling, including the likes of Godolphin.

His latest victory came in the 18:15 at Wolverhampton on Friday, aboard 8-11 favourite Sapphire Seas.

"For a young chap who's only riding 12 weeks to get rides like this, it's unheard of really. For us as a family watching what he's doing, it's just unbelievable," said his father Mark.

"His first Christmas present was a rocking horse, for his second I got him a pony, and he's never looked back."

Despite all the hype around him, Loughnane is keeping his feet on the ground.

"It's a great feeling that people are talking about you, and when you're riding winners, people are going to notice and the rate of knots it's happened for me is amazing," he said.

"I think everyone needs to calm down a bit, I've only had a couple of winners. I know it's going well, but fingers crossed it keeps rolling."

He still has big dreams, though.

"This year my main goal is to be champion apprentice. But look, for the future, champion jockey, I know it's a long way off. If the right horse comes along to win a Derby as well would be amazing. But it's going to take a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck as well. Fingers crossed it will happen one day."

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