IF Yorkshire horse of the year Quiet Reflection adds to her one Group One tally in today’s Darley July Cup, no one will be more proud than Jordan Vaughan.
An aspiring jockey, he’s given up rides so he can lead up Karl Burke’s stable star at Newmarket because of the strength of the personal bond that he has forged with this fantastic filly.
Even though it was Leyburn-based Burke, and big race jockey Dougie Costello, who took the plaudits after Quiet Reflection made the biggest noise of all when winning the prestigious Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, they were the first to praise the whole team at Spigot Lodge.
After all, it is 22-year-old Vaughan who has the privilege of riding the three-year-old speedster on Middleham’s historic gallops, leading her up at the races – and greeting the champion after each race.
He even wore a yellow and white tie which was in sync with the silks of the Ontoawinner syndicate that are carried by Quiet Reflection who has now won six of her seven starts while accruing more than £400,000 in prize money.
Treasured memories that will never leave him, Vaughan says such experiences will only make him hungrier to succeed as a jockey and he cites the example of Nico de Boinville who was forever known as steeplechasing superstar Sprinter Sacre’s work rider before his own career took off thanks to the novice Coneygree’s career-defining win in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Royal Ascot was an amazing day,” Vaughan told The Yorkshire Post. “I could have ridden that day, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
“Hopefully, one day, it will be me in the saddle. Dougie has had a brilliant first year as a Flat jockey, yet a year ago he was riding over jumps. It can happen to anyone, you just need to be in the right place at the right time, and I’m just taking it all in – it makes you appreciate how hard you have to work to get to the top.”
The likable rider was speaking while Quiet Reflection was being transported from North Yorkshire to Newmarket for today’s six furlong race worth £300,000 to the winner. He was going to be responsible for the filly’s wellbeing overnight before riding her out this morning and getting her ready for the fiercely competitive 18-runner race which has attracted Britain’s very best sprinters. The pride in his voice is palpable.
Vaughan does not hail from a racing family. He grew up on the Wirral and only considered a career with horses because he did not want to be stuck behind a desk all day.
An inspired decision to join the British Racing School at Newmarket led to stints at the yards of Marco Botti and George Margarson before he chose to move North in the search of new opportunities.
Vaughan certainly made his mark – his first ride for Burke was a winning one when he steered Little Lady Katie to victory at Newmarket in October 2014 when it staged the inaugural Future Champions Day meeting.
Coincidentally, Vaughan recorded a high-profile double when he partnered both Little Lady Katie, and stablemate Percy Street, to victory at flat racing’s HQ on June 25. He cites the ‘feelgood factor’ derived from his association with Quiet Reflection for his increased confidence in the saddle. It’s no coincidence, he reveals, that four of his 39 career winners have come in the three weeks since Royal Ascot.
Yet his inexperience belies a horseman of the highest order whose primary concern is the probable fast ground as Quiet Reflection takes on older, and more battle-hardened, equine champions for the first time.
Instinctively, he can tell on the gallops if his horse is having a bad day. Quiet Reflection’s mood in the horse box prior to racing is also another indicator of her wellbeing – her relaxed demeanour yesterday bode well.
The fresh-faced Vaughan only became entrusted with the filly because he spotted on Facebook that she was being sent to Spigot Lodge and thought the photographs revealed an above-average horse in terms of stature and physical appearance. He was not wrong, Quiet Reflection proving her high-profile win in Haydock’s Sandy Lane Stakes was no fluke when winning at Royal Ascot amid scenes of sheer exultation.
“You get used to her mannerisms,” said Vaughan. “If she’s not right, you get some physio and she’s great the day after. The farrier Andy Grant is brilliant. Without him, she would be sore every day. It’s a big team effort and I’m just proud to be part of it. The best thing about the yard is that I wouldn’t mind working there if it was just a job.”
It’s not. It’s a passion exemplified by the extraordinary bond between Jordan Vaughan and the horse that he describes, in his own moment of quiet reflection, as an inspiration.