phillip makin has been in racing long enough to realise that landmark achievements, like his 4,799-1 four-timer on John Smith’s Cup, are feats to be cherished.
Yet, as the in-form rider heads to Ripon today for five eye-catching rides on the opening day of the 2015 Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival, he is determined to maintain the winning momentum.
Once again, the 31-year-old will be teaming up with David O’Meara and Keith Dalgleish – two jockeys-turned-trainers who both supplied Makin with notable winners when he stole the show at York seven days ago.
“I’ve had a four-timer before – but that was at Southwell on the all-weather,” Makin told The Yorkshire Post. “It is very hard to do, never mind on one of the most competitive Saturdays of the year You are soon forgotten in this game...it keeps you at the forefront of people’s minds.”
The rider, who lives near Thirsk, had actually telephoned his agent Laura Way before racing to say that he might not ride a winner on the Knavesmire. “When you think you’ve got some good rides, you often draw a blank,” he explained.
“When Birdman won the first for David O’Meara, I thought it might just be my day. All Birdman has done is get back to his old self – he was a very good two-year-old. It wasn’t a surprise that he won, it was a surprise that he won so well. I expected Out Do to win the sprint, all David’s horses are running well, but to win the John Smith’s Cup was a complete bonus – a great race to win.
“I’ve had some great days at York – a Gimcrack on Blaine for Kevin Ryan, a Melrose on Guarantee for Willie Haggas and the big sales race – but that soon tops it. Ted Durcan was initially down for the ride on Master Carpenter, but he had to go to Ascot for Sir Michael Stoute and my agent put my name forward. I’m glad she did!
“I won’t forget it because I don’t expect the four-timer will come round again. I was actually due a John Smith’s Cup – I had actually won four times on Sirvino for David Barron in 2009 but managed to get myself banned for the big day so Neil Brown rode the horse to victory in the big race. After Master Carpenter, I was on a roll and Dark Defender was never going to lose for Keith!”
Even though Makin is ninth in the new-look jockeys’ championship, and just 15 winners behind the pacesetting Silvestre de Sousa, he does not consider himself to be a contender in spite of the luckless Ryan Moore’s injury setback and the indifference that continues to be shown by other leading riders.
Though he says the championship has a fascinating new complexion this year in its abridged format – it began on Guineas day at Newmarket in early May and finishes on Ascot’s Champions Day in mid-October – he does not believe that he will have sufficient ammunition when the season reaches its climax.
From this perspective, he believes riders based in the South still have a significant advantage because of the “ammo” that they will have at their disposal. Yet he is quick to point out that Flat racing in Yorkshire is now unrecognisable compared to 2002 when he rode his first winner. He cites the likes of Mark Johnston, Kevin Ryan, David O’Meara and Richard Fahey as being the equal of any top Newmarket trainer because owners have placed faith in their training abilities.
“Gone are the days when a southern trainer could send a horse up here under the radar and be guaranteed of victory.”
Makin has come to appreciate Nawton-based O’Meara’s skills after being one of the beneficiaries of the thumb injury that left Danny Tudhope, The Yorkshire Post’s columnist, on the sidelines for several weeks prior to his comeback at Newbury today. He says one key to the trainer’s success – exemplified by the Group One-winning exploits of Amazing Maria – is the relaxed atmosphere at the Nawton yard, and that Thornaby Nash could excel at Ripon this afternoon.
Makin is equally complimentary about the aforementioned Dalgleish. Having started riding for the Scottish-based trainer in the second half of last season, their partnership has gone from strength to strength.
Like many of Dalgleish’s two-year-olds, the jockey expects North Spirit to improve for today’s racecourse debut at Ripon while he couldn’t be happier with Pressure Point who has already won at York twice this season before finishing fourth on the Knavesmire last time out. “He keeps it very simple and he is not afraid to run his horses,” added Makin who has also picked up spare rides today for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and the Classic-winning Michael Bell. “The horses are very fit, very well and are usually in the right races. That’s three big plusses. He’s certainly on the up.”
Just like Phillip Makin.