Ashforth's Angles: Tough task for riders after losing claim

Cam hardie

Cam Hardie: has had fewer rides since losing his claim

  PICTURE: By Edward Whitaker  

 By David Ashforth 5:50PM 5 JUN 2016 

APPRENTICES know that it’s going to be tough when they lose their claim because they have been told so many times. Without a weight allowance they become instantly less attractive and there’s only so much they can do about it.

There’s no shortage of advice – keep working hard, keep improving, keep trainers and owners happy, keep your feet on the ground, keep going, don’t ride too many winners too quickly because you need experience as well as success.

Racing is littered with the names of apprentices once lauded but soon consigned to oblivion. You don’t have to go back far – take three champions – Carl Lowther in 1998, Lee Newman in 2000 and Greg Fairley in 2007.

Character counts

Apprentices fail for all sorts of reasons but one of them is attitude. One of the first articles I wrote for The Sporting Life was based on interviewing two promising apprentices. Despite a flurry of recent wins and attachment to a big Newmarket stable it was quickly obvious that one of them was unlikely to succeed. He was immature and showed no sign of real dedication. Two seasons later he was no longer riding.

Riding ability is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for success. Temperament and character count for a lot in a sport where highs and lows are unavoidable.

In 1998 Lowther rode 72 winners but five years later his tally was down to two and in 2004 he relinquished his licence. That year he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend after a drinking session and later of a string of burglaries said to have been prompted by heroin addiction.

In Newman’s championship year he rode 87 winners but two years later injury and weight problems had brought the total down to five and he left racing and worked for seven years as a betting shop manager in Barbados. Remarkably, having ballooned to almost 14st, Newman shed the weight and returned to race riding in 2010. The following year he rode 43 winners but weight problems resurfaced and in 2012 he stepped down again.

Fairley had the considerable help of trainer Mark Johnston when riding 76 winners in 2007 but split with him in 2011 and at the end of the year was found guilty of deliberately stopping horses and disqualified for 12 years.

Slow start

Cam Hardie, 20, has two rides for Jim Goldie at Ayr on Monday. Last year he rode 39 winners from 488 rides and in 2014 59 from 588. At that time he was attached to Richard Hannon’s stable but Hardie rode out his claim last August and has moved north, riding mainly for John Quinn. So far this year he has ridden only one winner from 28 rides. Will he recapture success?

Hannon’s apprentices are led by Tom Marquand, 18, last year’s champion, who still claims 3lb. In 2014 he rode one winner from 14 rides, last year 67 from 602 and so far this year 17 from 138. I wonder how Marquand – who has four rides at Windsor – will fare when he loses his claim?

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