WILLIAM Buick has come a long way since he won Doncaster’s St Leger with his first two rides in the Classic – Arctic Cosmos (2010) and Masked Marvel 12 months later.
The fresh-faced Northern Racing College protégé, whose father Walter was champion jockey in Norway, effectively succeeded his friend and mentor Frankie Dettori as first rider to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation.
Yet, despite accumulating Group One successes around the world, Buick has still to add to his haul of English Classics, a record that the 28-year-old is hopeful of putting right on Mark Johnston’s Permian in today’s Epsom Derby.
Second on Karl and Elaine Burke’s Libertarian in 2013 when the slow early pace did not suit, Buick is free to ride after a five-day ban incurred at York’s Dante meeting was cut to four days following an appeal and likes Permian’s profile.
“He should stay and he should run well,” said the jockey. “He’s always been a lovely colt to look at. He looks classy and has a nice pedigree, but when I rode him last year at Windsor, it was impossible to say what he’d be doing this year.
“He has improved with every race this season. I went up to Middleham to have a sit on him and reacquaint ourselves. We did nothing serious, just a swinging canter, so I didn’t get a feel of him at full pelt. But he looked a million dollars and Mark and his team are very happy with where he is, which is the most important thing.”
A month into the season, Buick is also setting the pace in the race to become champion jockey with a prolific 25 per cent strike rate that is the envy of the weighing room.
“I don’t think many of us actually say: ‘I’m going to set out to be champion’, but we always want to ride as many winners as possible,” he said. “It’s still very early in the season, but obviously I’d rather be winning than not. Riding for Godolphin, they are a huge operation with lots of horses. I might not be going to meetings with six or seven rides, but when I go racing more often than not I have chances, which is what you want.”