Reveley’s exploits rewarded

JOCKEY James Reveley’s journey from his family’s North Yorkshire stables to one of the top training yards in the country has been a somewhat circuitous one.

For it is the Yorkshireman’s riding exploits in France – where he has competed for the past four summers – that caught the expert eye of Nick Williams, the man responsible for last season’s Hennessy hero Diamond Hero and a string of top steeplechasers.

And, with Daryl Jacob switching from the Williams yard to become Ruby Walsh’s No 2 at the stable of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Reveley, 21, is the primary beneficiary.

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It is a fitting reward for National Hunt racing’s most improved horseman who has enjoyed a blistering start to the 2011-12 campaign with nine winners to date.

Yet, after tonight’s meeting at Cartmel when he has three eyecatching rides at the Lake District venue where in excess of 10,000 punters will watch the action on this unique village green course, Reveley heads off to France for his fifth sojourn on the continent.

He will continue riding for Guillaume Macaire while also forging his new alliance with Devon-based Williams, who regularly runs his horses in France because of the enticing prize money and quality of racing.

It is this French connection that brought about an appointment that bucks the trend – it is rare for Northern riders to secure top jobs at stables in the south.

Reveley rode the Williams-trained Sarika at Enghien and was a fast-finishing third on the 24-1 outsider.

“I have noticed James ride a lot in France, more so than anywhere else,” Williams told the Yorkshire Post. “I like the way he rode Sarika.

“He’s easy to talk with, he’s a good communicator and he is an outstanding horseman. He’s tall but most of our horses are chasers in the maker – and that’s ideal for James.

“I’ve always had my own stable jockey; you can’t be waiting until the last minute to make riding arrangements. I don’t think my yard will be losing many races because of jockeyship.”

Reveley will spend a week in the autumn schooling the 30 or so horses at the Williams yard to get to know the quirks.

But, with many due to run at venues like Cheltenham or Newbury, or meetings in the Midlands, the young rider will be able to continue his successful association with his father Keith who trains on the family’s farm at Saltburn where his mother Mary enjoyed great success.

Instrumental in guiding his son through the early stages of his career on successful horses like the recently retired Rambling Minster, and the richly promising Tazbar, Reveley senior realises that this is a superb opportunity – Diamond Harry, who missed this year’s Gold Cup with a slight niggle, is viewed as a potential rival to the great Long Run.

“Evidently he’s been watching me for a while and Sarika ran well,” said the jockey, speaking about his new association.

“He was in touch with my Dad and Mr Williams has known my family for a long time – I think they go back to when Gran was training. He then phoned me one day and offered me the job.

“There’s not just Diamond Harry, but a lot of nice horses coming through and I’m looking forward to riding Zaynar and Maljimar in France this weekend.

“France has been a great learning curve – the style of riding – and I’ve improved every year I’ve been there. And the language is getting better too. But did I think it would end up with a job like this? Probably not.”

He’ll certainly understand how his new stables in North Devon operates. It is very much a family-run affair, with meticulous care given to each and every horse by Williams and his wife Jane.

Reveley insists the horses have contributed a great deal to his recent fine form.

Yet his tactical acumen, and the manner in which he prepares steeplechasers to take off, has been one of the main talking points of Northern racing for the past year.

And the training fraternity concur.

West Witton handler Ferdy Murphy, who used Reveley at the end of the last season, says Reveley is getting much stronger in the finish – and charms connections with his easy-going personality.

Williams added: “We are an expanding yard with some expanding horses.

“It’s important to get the right person and wouldn’t it be fantastic if Diamond Harry repeated his Hennessy triumph of last year, but with James on board?”

Reveley smiles at this prospect. “It’ll be good, won’t it?” But, when asked what would happen if Diamond Harry, for example, clashed with his father’s talented Tazbar, who has been sidelined for a season with an injury, his response is emphatic. “It won’t happen.”