Rising saddle star Jack Tudor targeting ‘real’ Grand National victory

IT is one of the quirks of Covid circumstances that teenage jockey Jack Tudor already has a ‘Grand National’ win to his name – without ever jumping one of Aintree’s fearsome fences.

This was Jack tudor winning the 2019 Coral Welsh National on Potters Corner.

His mount Potters Corner was the winner of the 2020 ‘Virtual Grand National’, a computer simulated race that ITV turned into a major NHS fundraiser as the pandemic forced the abandonment of all racing.

Now Tudor is preparing to ride Potters Corner in the Randox Grand National this Saturday and reaffirm his burgeoning reputation as one of the weighing room’s rising stars.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Just 18, he will be the youngest competitor in this year’s renewal of the world’s greatest steeplechase and one of just a handful of teenage winners. Bruce Hobbs was aged 17 when Battleship won in 1938 while Rule The World prevailed five years ago under the 19-year-old David Mullins.

Jack Tudor is bidding to become one of the youngest ever riders to win the Grand National.

Yet, while Mullins recently retired after becoming disillusioned, Tudor is an exceptionally grounded young man under the watchful eye of his family – he still lives at home – and tutelage of Potters Corner’s trainer Christian Williams who finished second in the 2005 National on Royal Auclair.

He’s due to have his first experience of Aintree’s unique obstacles before the potential ride of his life on Potters Corner.

What is certain, however, is Tudor will be unfazed by the occasion – he was just 17 when he partnered the horse, co-owned by Wales and Lions rugby legend Jonathan Davies, to a nerveless victory in the 2019 Coral Welsh National at Chepstow when many connections could have opted for a more seasoned rider.

“I’m really looking forward to it – even just to be involved is massive,” the rider told The Yorkshire Post. “To also have a great chance makes it even more special.

This was Jack Tudor and Potters Corner winning the 2019 Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.

“The horse, touch wood, seems to be in good form and we worked him the other day at Ffos Las. We’ll school him over some National fences – no stone will be left unturned. I’ve never ridden over the National fences. I will, hopefully, have a ride in the Topham so it will be good to get me eye in.”

Tudor says it was “weird” to watch last year’s ‘virtual’ race with his parents, and sisters, during the lockdown at the family’s home near Bridgend. He was surprised they became so animated – he never gets to experience the roller-coaster of emotions that his family and friends endure during his races – and was even cheering himself on.

The more important aspect, says Tudor, was providing a lift for the nation and supporting the NHS. Now, 12 months on, he wants to win the National.

“Potters Corner has been massive in my career – and Christian’s career,” says Tudor who has 50 career wins to his name. “How he won the Welsh National, I give him half the credit for a lot of my successes.”

Like many in Wales, Tudor’s first love was rugby.

“I always wanted to be a rugby player before a jockey,” says the one-time scrum-half. “Being Welsh, most young boys do.

“I played for the county [Vale of Glamorgan] twice and a very good side called Cowbridge. We didn’t get beat for a few years. I played at quite a good level, but I was never big enough. They wanted to get me into the gym to get bigger and I still wanted to be a jockey; the two just couldn’t go together.”

Tudor’s career is followed closely by Yorkshire showjumping legend Harvey Smith, friends of the aforementioned Williams. Smith, and his wife Sue hold the young rider in high regard. So, too, does former champion conditional Rhys Flint who enjoyed a meteoric rise as a teenager before his weight put paid to his career.

He is now assistant trainer to his parents John and Martine, and lives just a few miles from Tudor’s home.

“The reason he is really good is probably because Christian is investing so much time in him,” said Flint. “When you have as good a rider as Christian moulding you into the job, you’re going to be good. Christian is no fool – he’s a very good jockey and horseman. Jack’s mature, not just in the saddle, but also how he deals with everyone which is so important. It is the real package.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.