OAKLEY BROWN has not looked back since recording his very first career winner at York last summer on Third Time Lucky.
The apprentice rider switched codes, moved to Ireland to try his luck there and then returned to a new job in England.
There are so many lads – and then the top lads like Davy Russell, Jack Kennedy and Keith Donoughue. And when you’re starting out, you really do need a chance to get going.Oakley Brown
And now the Malton-born jockey is celebrating after his first ride under National Hunt rules – Eyes Right – was a winning one at Southwell for his new boss Alan King.
“Excellent. You feel like you’re getting somewhere again,” said the 17-year-old who was effectively forced to become a jump jockey, and leave Richard Fahey’s yard in his home town, at the end of the 2018 Flat campaign because of his burgeoning weight.
“Southwell is a bit different to York, but a winner is a winner.
“I was at Gordon Elliott’s in Ireland for a few weeks at the end of last year, but I would have struggled to make it over there.
“There are so many lads – and then the top lads like Davy Russell, Jack Kennedy and Keith Donoughue. And when you’re starting out, you really do need a chance to get going.
“I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t appreciate it was going to be that hard until I got there.”
It was dual Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Mark Dwyer who pointed Brown in the direction of Wiltshire-based King where he is flourishing under the guidance of stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson.
He’s also becoming more accomplished schooling horses over obstacles. “It’s more fun than the Flat – even though riding at York is something else,” enthuses Brown. “Flying over hurdles gives you some buzz. I’m about 9st 9lb at the moment.
“I can eat relatively normally without the prospect of having to lose 7lb or 10lb before every ride on the Flat.
“I’ve also passed my driving test since the end of the Flat season.
“That’s a big help. I’ve only had two bumps in the past two weeks. A few dents to sort out – but the riding is okay.”