BILLY GARRITTY’S enthusiasm is infectious as he recounts his first experience of the sport that has made him – and his family.
It was March 2002 and his father Russ was riding Hussard Collonges to a famous victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
“I was at home with my ‘nana’ who says she was throwing me up and down in the living room as they came up the home straight,” the teenager endearingly reveals.
The young Garritty does remember, however, going to trainer Peter Beaumont’s stables near Easingwold and sitting on Hussard Collonges as his father led the champion around the yard.
The recollection is vivid as the 19-year-old becomes the latest member of his family after his father, a fearless jump jockey, and older brother Jack, an accomplished Flat rider, to make it to the winner’s enclosure.
Now on the 10-winner mark for the current campaign after No No Mac won at Musselburgh yesterday, the teenager has not looked back since turning professional last autumn. “It is good because you get paid to do the job you love,” he says with Yorkshire resolve. “I’m flying, good season.”
You can’t go back in time and change the fall. That’s racing – it happens, move on. Tomorrow is another day. I also believe there is no point complaining about anyone else.Jockey Billy Garritty
But this, he announces, is, hopefully, just the beginning. “I want to be champion conditional next season. That’s my main aim. This year is a bit of building,” he tells The Yorkshire Post in an exclusive interview. “I’m got to work as hard as I can – and then work away during the summer developing relationships and, hopefully, building up relationships and some momentum. It will be all work and no play.”
He means it. Garritty’s work ethic is clearly a family trait. His aforementioned father – who enjoyed many notable successes for Beaumont and also on top horses like Ask Tom for Tadcaster’s Tom Tate – assists Stillington trainer Harry Hogarth. He is also a raceday starter and also a jockey coach.
How do they get on? “A lot of arguments,” jokes the young rider. “No, I listen to him because he’s been there and done it. He rode for 22 years. If I didn’t listen to him, I wouldn’t listen to nobody.”
His brother, who just missed out on becoming the Flat’s champion apprentice in 2015, is part of Richard Fahey’s operation at Malton despite being unnaturally tall. “I’m big boned, he’s lighter boned,” says the younger sibling. “I’m proud of him and hopefully he’s proud of me.”
And then their mother Andrea.
“She gets very nervous about me and Jack riding,” reports Garritty who says his family’s association with racing is a distinct advantage. “It is good. I have got good people around me. My brother, My father. My mum. It helps me a lot. It’s no pressure.”
Growing up in Malton, Garritty says school attendance came a distant second to riding out at yards across Yorkshire and he is now attached to Micky Hammond’s Middleham stables. Jump racing has always been his first love.
“Royal Ascot won’t buzz me as much as Cheltenham,” he says.
He’s relishing the thrill of hurtling over obstacles at 30mph. He enjoyed a high-profile win at Haydock last December on Cornerstone Lad before winning on stablemate Caraline at Wetherby on Tuesday.
Today he rides the James Ewart-trained Aristo Du Plessis at Kelso as his seven pound weight allowance comes to the attention of other trainers.
His hero is Ruby Walsh – and the young tyro has spent hours watching replays of the mercurial Irishman’s final flight fall at Cheltenham when clear on the mare Benie Des Dieux.
“He keeps going forward,” explains Garritty, who reveres Walsh’s positivity in the saddle and says that he aspires to that type of horsemanship.
“You can’t go back in time and change the fall. That’s racing – it happens, move on. Tomorrow is another day. I also believe there is no point complaining about anyone else.
“The only person to worry about is yourself and nobody else. Business is business and you’ve got to get on with your own business – riding.”
He also won’t be changing his habit of turning up at the races in his pair of mud-caked Wellington boots before walking the course.
“Straight from work,” he says. “I haven’t time to go home and change. Horses to ride.”
And races to win.