QIPCO British Champions Day 2023

Buick retains Champion Jockey crown

William Buick was crowned Britain’s Champion Flat Jockey for a second time at Ascot today, following up his runaway victory last year.

With former champion Oisin Murphy returning from a year out, many predicted a titanic battle between the duo in 2023, but Buick pulled clear during the summer months.

Buick has notched 135 winners since the championship started in early May, with his closest challengers Murphy and Rossa Ryan on 106 and 104 respectively.

Highlights for the 35-year-old include Modern Games’ victory in the G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, coupled with significant wins across Europe and North America.

Buick, who shared the Champion Apprentice title with David Probert in 2008, said: “It was always important to me to win the title again. There is a lot that goes into it and a lot of thanks goes to owners and trainers, my agent and my family.

“This season has been slightly different to last year, but it has been very busy and, when you are busy, especially the way it is in this country, it rolls on so quickly. You do not get much time to think about it.

“Being Champion Jockey drives me, no question about it. I also think that I am at a point in my career where I think why not keep doing it? I enjoy going racing, the winners, the support, and I enjoy being Champion Jockey.” 

LOUGHNANE CAPS FINE YEAR WITH CHAMPION APPRENTICE TITLE

Teenage sensation Billy Loughnane was presented with the Champion Apprentice award at Ascot today, less than a year after riding his first winner.

Having secured the All-Weather Champion Apprentice title over the winter, Loughnane set his sights on the turf and has not looked back, riding out his claim at Kempton Park on September 8.

The 17-year-old sits on 60 winners heading into the final day of the championship, putting him comfortably ahead of last year’s leading apprentice Benoit de la Sayette and Harry Davies.

With experience on the pony racing circuit, Loughnane only had his first public ride last October and notched his first winner at Wolverhampton the following month on Swiss Rowe, trained by his father Mark.

In May, he became the youngest jockey since Lester Piggott to ride in a British Classic when he partnered Sweet Harmony in the G1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas.

Loughnane said: “I have always said that I wanted to be a jockey. I went to school dressed up as a jockey when we had to dress up as what we wanted to be when we’re older!

“Everyone says that their mum and dad are the best things, but they have supported me loads and being around horses from a young age gave me a massive head start.

“I did not think that I would be Champion Apprentice this year. When I was first on my course last year, I said I would love to do it one day, but I thought that would be three years down the line, definitely not in my first season.

“Everyone wants to be Champion Jockey, so hopefully one day. To have a big job somewhere and riding in all the big races would be amazing, but I think I’ll look at the short term for now and try to carry this year into next year.”

BRITISH CHAMPIONS SERIES HALL OF FAME

Steve Cauthen and Pebbles were recognised with QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame medals before racing.

Cauthen becomes the fifth jockey to be inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame after Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery, Frankie Dettori and Willie Carson.

The 63-year-old was an overnight sensation in America and, aged just 18, became the youngest jockey to win the US Triple Crown on Affirmed in 1978.

He moved to Britain soon after, winning three Champion Jockey titles and 10 Classics, including the Derby twice and the 1985 fillies’ Triple Crown on Oh So Sharp.

Cauthen said: “I am grateful to have had so many brilliant opportunities on both sides of the pond and to still be recognised for my achievements is really quite special to me.

“Having been inducted into America’s Hall of Fame some years back, it’s an honour to now celebrate my induction into Great Britain’s Hall of Fame.”

Pebbles meanwhile is the first filly or mare to enter the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame, thanks to her exploits domestically and overseas in 1984 and 1985.

Trained by Clive Brittain, she captured the 1,000 Guineas at three before a stellar four-year-old campaign that saw her defeat subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Rainbow Quest in the Eclipse and a top-class field in the Champion Stakes.

She signed off with a memorable display in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Aqueduct, becoming Britain’s first winner at America’s flagship meeting, a feat that would not be repeated until 1991.

Brittain said: “I first saw Pebbles about two days after she was born, and I knew even then that there was something special about her. I used to go and see her in the paddock at weekends, where she was always taking charge of the others – she had such great spirit.

“I still think about her today and can see her fresh in my mind, particularly with her boyfriend, Come On The Blues. Theirs was a great love story and he accompanied her wherever she went – even travelling out to America with her for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. That day was the only time that I’ve been racing and felt nervous, but I just did the same as we’d have done at home and it all worked out.

“Pebbles was 100 per cent racehorse and she was simply a pleasure to train. I’m so very pleased to see her inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame and I’m also very proud to have played a part in her success.”

For more information on the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame, please visit www.horseracinghof.com