Ebor Festival: Speed can help young pretender Garritty to land Ebor

AIMING HIGH: Jockey Jack Garrity. Picture: James Hardisty
AIMING HIGH: Jockey Jack Garrity. Picture: James Hardisty
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THE EBOR –York’s most historic race – has always had a special resonance with Jack Garritty, who makes his riding debut today in Europe’s richest Flat handicap aboard the well-regarded Angel Gabrial.

“Born in Malton, and being a local lad, you grow up hoping to ride in such famous races. Now I’m in it, it’s great,” he said.

Horse and rider are not without a chance – Angel Gabrial won last year’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle under George Chaloner before finishing a creditable fourth in this year’s renewal with young Garritty in the saddle.

Even though the chance has been made harder by the Willie Mullins-trained Royal Ascot and Galway Festival winner Clondaw Warrior making the 20-runner cut following the defection of top weight Quest For More, who ran in yesterday’s Lonsdale Cup, Garritty hopes that his mount will have sufficient tactical speed to take advantage of a favourable draw towards the inner.

These permeations, part of the tradition of a race first run in 1843 and which derives its name from York’s Roman name of Eboracum, overlook the fact that Garritty – attached to the in-form yard of Richard Fahey – is this season’s leading apprentice rider and in the best form of his short career to date after recording a first Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival win when Mayfair Lady led from the start to finish to land Wednesday’s finale.

It did not end here. He then made a 420-mile round-trip from Malton to Hamilton on Thursday – he won on Schmooze – before a 500-mile journey to Sandown yesterday to partner the aptly-named Celebration and El Viento to success. Having narrowly edged ahead of Barnsley-born Cam Hardie, Sammy Jo Bell –also attached to the Fahey stable – and the surprise sensation Tom Marquand in the race to be crowned future champion, the well-travelled rider (and his trusty Volvo car) is happy to be back on home turf today.

This, after all, is a pencil-thin jockey who is unnaturally tall to be a Flat jockey – Garritty stands at 5ft 10ins tall – and who has to work extremely hard, to ensure that his weight does not edge above 8st 6lb. However, he says he wouldn’t be making such sacrifices, whether it be travel or diet, if he didn’t love the sport and have a special affinity with horses which he has clearly inherited from his father Russ, who was one of the iron men of National Hunt racing.

“Things are going well. I’m with a great stable and the guv’nor (Fahey) is not afraid to be put on good horses, like Angel Gabrial, and for which I am very grateful,” the 19-year-old told The Yorkshire Post in an exclusive interview.

“I can’t complain. I’m having a good run of it. I broke my collarbone at York’s Dante meeting in May when my horse bolted going to the start. It set me back two weeks and it was a bit hard to get going again. That’s racing, you can’t do anything about it. No one likes to fall. You just have to get on with it, it’s just part of the game.

“It’s good to be the leading apprentice, but a lot can happen between now and the finish on Champions Day at Ascot in mid-October. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I just go out there every day and do my best. I am on 33 winners and had 36 last year. I’m near enough that mark, I’d just like to get a few more. The weight and the travel, you just get on with it. It’s hard work, particularly the sauna, but you do it because you love riding.”

Even though the former pupil of Ryedale School followed his father’s exploits on seasoned steeplechasers like his 2002 Cheltenham Festival winner Hussard Collonges, Garritty did not start riding until he was 14 – rugby, football and cricket took precedence – and he also made a conscious decision to ride on the Flat if his weight permitted.

“It’s safer. There’s more money and the Flat up in the North is thriving,” he ventured.

Further proof of Garritty’s single-mindedness came when he opted to leave home and spent 18 months learning jockeyship at trainer Andrew Balding’s revered Kingsclere academy in Berkshire.

“I wanted to learn my trade and how to conduct myself, but it was always my intention to come home,” he said.

“I’d done work experience with Mr Fahey before so there was a connection. He’s great to work for. He keeps it very simple. He can also train any horse from a two-miler to a two-year-old sprinter. It would be great to win an Ebor for him and the horse’s owner (Dr Marwan Koukash).”

Those following the young rider’s career with interest include former Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Peter Beaumont, who was so instrumental in the career of Garritty senior and who trained the aforementioned Hussard Collonges.

“His Dad got a pony for him and taught him well,” he said. “He rides very nicely and will make a good jockey. He can talk to people as well, he’s been well-taught.”

This is now increasingly self-evident. A confident victory at Chester’s prestigious May meeting on Instant Attraction was followed by an even bigger success when Heaven’s Guest just held on to win a valuable handicap at Ascot on King George day. And then there was the victory of Mayfair Lady at York this week.

“When I won on her at Pontefract, she had a quirk and drifted across the track. Here she was perfect. She’s a high quality prospect,” said Garritty who did not know he had a ride in the Ebor until he studied the declarations.

“Ascot has probably been the highlight but York is special because it’s my local track; probably the best in the country. If I didn’t have horses like these, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am. I’m the lucky one.”

The jockey hopes that an increased number of rides each year will help his weight to stabilise – it could, potentially, be the biggest obstacle to him competing for championship honours in the future. In the meantime, his sights are set on glory in the £275,000 Ebor aboard Angel Gabrial.

“He’s not far off being a Group horse, which you need, and the drop back in trip to one mile, six furlongs is fine,” added Garritty.

“We’ll bounce out, get a good position, and do our best.”

No one can ask for more from the boy’s own jockey seeking to become Yorkshire’s local hero on Betfred Ebor day.

Haggas and Johnston eye big race glory

THREE Yorkshire runners will bid to become the first locally-trained winner of the Betfred Ebor since Brian Ellison’s Moyenne Corniche prevailed in 2011.

As well as Richard Fahey’s Angel Gabrial, Mark Johnston, who won the race with Quick Ransom in 1992, saddles Notarised and Watersmeet who both fought out Haydock’s Old Newton Cup earlier in the season.

The worry is that all three Yorkshire horses have been given too much to do by the handicapper.

Meanwhile, Skipton-born William Haggas, already the winner of four races this week, has made no secret of his desire to win an Ebor and his Arabian Comet would be an extremely popular winner.

“I think a fast pace will really suit her as she is much better in strongly-run races than small fields,” said Haggas, who opted for this race ahead of Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks.