Danny Tudhope emerges as leading contender for champion Flat jockey title

DANNY Tudhope is in prime position to become champion Flat jockey after an across-the-card five-timer on the opening day of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival.

Dammy Tudhope has moved nine clear in the race to be Stobart champion jockey.

The Thirsk-based jockey – a graduate of Northern Racing College – moved nine clear of his nearest rival Oisin Murphy, who was drawing a card blank at Newbury’s high-profile card.

Tudhope, who recorded a remarkable four winners at Royal Ascot last month, including a Group One success in the historic Queen Anne Stakes on Lord Glitters, triumphed on Isobar Wind (David Evans), Battle Of Wills (James Tate) and Montaleven (Roger Fell) at Ripon – the Festival’s opening meeting.

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The 33-year-old then drove down the A1M where his winning form continued thanks to victories aboard Stone Circle (Michael Bell) and Funny Man (David O’Meara).

Danny Tudhope - pictured after his Royal Ascot win on Lord Glitters - is leading the race to become the 2019 Stobart champion jockey.

His 19th winner in the past fortnight, it took Tudhope to the 78-winner mark in the Stobart-sponsored championship for Flat riders from a total of 308 rides.

The five-timer moved Tudhope nine clear of Murphy, who has ridden 69 winners from 410 rides, and defending champion Silvestre de Sousa, who is on the 54-winner mark.

The turnaround has come in the past month – it was Murphy, number one rider to Qatar Racing, who had a clear lead going into Royal Ascot where he recorded a solitary success.

And while Tudhope was out of luck in Ireland yesterday when sprinter Soldier’s Call – running in the colours of the jockey’s retained owner Steve Parkin – was only fourth in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, he will be back in action at Beverley today where he has five rides.

Raymond Blanc (left) presents a trophy to jockey Danny Tudhope after Space Traveller won the Jersey Stakes during day five of Royal Ascot

It is, however, very rare for Northern-based jockeys to win the championship because there are fewer opportunities in the North.

However, Kevin Darley prevailed in 2000 before Seb Sanders, based in the Midlands, shared the title with Jamie Spencer in 2007.

More recently, Malton-based Paul Hanagan won the title race in 2010 and 2011 after epic battles with rivals Richard Hughes and Silvestre de Sousa respectively, which were only settled on the final day of the season at Doncaster.

Now, after various changes, the championship is concluded on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on October 18 – rides, and winners, in the three weeks between then, and Doncaster’s season-ending November Handicap will not count.

And, having told The Yorkshire Post last month that he would wait until the end of July before committing himself to a title challenge, Tudhope now appears to have momentum on his side as top trainers, like Newmarket-based Sir Michael Stoute and William Haggas, offer high-profile rides.

Not only do they respect the rider’s horsemanship – but also the sacrifices that Tudhope makes on a daily basis just to make his racing weight. He has to lose several pounds each morning before heading to the races.

He also has the support of Northern-based riders with Hanagan saying: “I’ve said for a few years that Danny can be champion jockey one day.

“We’ve been riding together for quite a long time and I always thought it was a case of him getting his weight and his head right.

“He’s turned that corner now and has come to the fore, although he’s always been a class jockey.”

Ginger Jam attempts to claim a Beverley hat-trick when he runs in the Jaimie Kerr Memorial Handicap tonight at the East Yorkshire track.

The five-furlong sprint is named in memory of Malton trainer Tony Coyle’s former assistant and partner, Jaimie, who died last year, aged 38.

Ginger Jam, goes for a third consecutive course success in a competitive five-furlong dash.

And Ginger Jam’s trainer Nigel Tinkler, who is also based at Malton, said: “He’s got bags of confidence and whenever a horse has lots of confidence anything can happen.

“It would be lovely to get three straight wins at Beverley with him, but I can’t help but feel this is quite a tall order for him.

“On his last two wins the horses in front grew tired and that’s why he was able to come off the pace and look so visually impressive.

“I can’t see that happening on Monday as there’s a lot of pace in the field but you could never rule him out.”