Nigel Tinkler’s duo can help Rowan Scott sprint to the top
He showed great acumen and calmness under pressure to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in America on Nigel Tinkler’s Ubettabelieveit last November.
The 25-year-old, who recorded his 100th career success last November, proved this was no fluke by partnering Acklam Express, another Tinkler-trained sprinter, to third spot at the Dubai World Cup meeting in March.
Scott has hopes that both horses will take his career to new heights – the appropriately-named Ubettabelieveit could line up in next month’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
If so, Scott – one of a clutch of Flat and National Hunt jockeys originally from the Scottish Borders to move to Yorkshire to further their careers – believes his rides at, first, Keeneland, and then Meydan will pay off. “You are learning about different tracks and what it takes to ride them,” the jockey told The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s meeting at York where he is in action.
“Watching the other jockeys conduct themselves, some of the sport’s biggest names, it helps me to believe in my own ability a bit more and to build confidence.
“You sit and observe. You watch the top boys and can’t go far wrong if you’re doing similar things to them. If you’re in good company, you are always learning. Without even noticing, you’re picking little things up.”
Scott hails from Hawick – the same Borders town as former jockey Keith Dalgleish, now an accomplished trainer, and former champion apprentice Jason Hart, who is the main rider for Malton trainer John Quinn.
Leaving home at the age of 16 to turn apprentice, he spent five formative years at Ann Duffield’s stables in North Yorkshire – her husband George was a top Flat jockey – and then two seasons in Scotland under Dalgleish’s tutelage.
Yet Scott’s career really started to progress when teamed up with Tinkler, a former jump jockey, three years ago and won the Flying Childers stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting on Ubettabelieveit.
This saw Scott beat the well-regarded Sacred, and subsequent St Leger-winning jockey Tom Marquand, by the tightest of short-heads in a driving finish, with the resulting coverage on ITV Racing helping to raise his profile and talent.
“He’s (Tinkler) good to work for,” says the jockey. “You need to be on the same wavelength. He’s definitely better for knowing but he’s loyal as they come. he knows his stuff.”
This became clear in subsequent weeks. Not only was the Martin Webb Racing-owned Ubettabelieveit heading to the Breeders’ Cup – but he would be ridden by Scott rather than a higher-profile British rider or American jockey more accustomed to the tight Keeneland track in Kentucky.
“It was a big shout for the owners and Mr Tinkler to stand by me. They could easily have gone for someone more accustomed to the bigger meetings,” said Scott, who went on to describe how missing the break actually enhanced his horse’s finishing position.
“If we had jumped with them, we would never have had the early speed to make the running. I was left no choice and he ran a blinder to finish third – we got a few breaks up the inner that helped.
“I think the plan is the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. He needs better ground so that’s why we’re not going to Haydock today for the Temple Stakes.”
Scott also accepts that this could be a stop-start and, at times, frustrating season. After Acklam Express ran in Dubai, the jockey spent 10 days in isolation at a Birmingham hotel, exercising on a Wattbike.
He enjoyed just a couple of days riding before another stint in quarantine in France before Ubettabelieveit who was then ultimately last in a Group Three race at Chantilly.
Yet these experiences have taught Scott to be patient, especially with three-year-old sprinters still to fully develop as they take on older and more battle-hardened rivals, and count his fortunes that he is riding – and, indeed, in front of crowds – when the country has been paying such a heavy price for the Covid pandemic.
It explains why he is reluctant to set targets. “I used to get goals and then get hung up by not reaching them,” he explained.
“It’s not good for your mental health. You’re better off focusing on doing your best for your trainers and your owners and trying to improve all the time.
“You never know what can happen in this game. When you get caught up in numbers, it is dangerous territory. Just trying riding as many winners as possible for the people you ride for and try to keep them happy, that’s my approach and I’m hopeful it is the right one.”
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