Our Becks does her bit for the girls
Despite the best efforts of the likes of champion Flat apprentice Josie Gordon and leading amateurs such as Serena Brotherton and Joanna Mason, it remains frustratingly difficult for female jockeys to make their mark, with the lack of girl riders involved at the recent Royal Ascot meeting again raising eyebrows at the Racing Post.
So it’s always nice to be able to report on a little bit of girl power, especially when it’s our very own Becky Smith who’s flying the flag for the ladies.
30 year old amateur Becks (pictured above), who’s also head girl at our Oakwood Stables yard, is enjoying the best year of her riding career, having already partnered two winners on the Flat and three over jumps – including a notable breakthrough chasing success at Cartmel last week – to take her overall tally to fifteen winners under both codes.
Becks rides for us wherever possible but it’s the support she’s received from outside yards that has helped her take a big step forward this year.
Both of her Flat winners have been trained by Marjorie Fife, whose Stillington yard is less than 40 miles from us on the outskirts of York. Becks partnered Marjorie’s nine year old Cape Cross gelding Ansaab to an impressive success in the colours of Craig Buckingham in a ten furlong handicap on Lingfield’s Polytrack back in February, and at Ayr this afternoon she teamed up with seven year old sprinter Perfect Words to win the five furlong handicap for the second year running in fine style.
Over jumps, meanwhile, it’s her blossoming relationship with eight year old Presenting mare Camillas Wish, trained across the Pennines in Garstang by Richard Ford, which has taken Becks to new heights.
Becks guided Camillas Wish to a comfortable hurdles success at Fakenham on 4th June before the pair came out on top in a driving finish at Uttoxeter, also over timber, eleven days later, but it was their win at Cartmel last Friday which was particularly noteworthy as Camillas Wish made most of the running and jumped superbly to give Becks her first ever chase winner.
Becks and Camillas Wish leading the way at Cartmel
Becks rode in point-to-point races during a short time working in Ireland but the Cartmel race was only her third ride over fences under UK Rules, following a couple of low key spins around Wetherby and Hexham on our three mile chaser Major Ridge last season. She does plenty of schooling at home, though, and she put all her experience to good use as she partnered Camillas Wish to an eyecatching eight length success with a very positive ride at the picturesque Cumbria track.
“I’m really lucky to be associated with Camillas Wish, she’s so gutsy!” says Becks. “I can’t thank Richard’s team enough and riding my first winner over fences was very special.”
By our calculations Becks is one of only nine female riders to partner a chase winner so far this season – an exclusive, brave, and determined group of hugely talented girl jockeys which also includes the likes of Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Bryony Frost, currently this season’s leading lady amateur over jumps, and the excellent Brodie Hampson, who quite rightly made headlines when she won last year’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown.
Becks, on the recently retired Summerlea, with the boss at Catterick
With two winners on the Flat and an impressive 50% strike rate from six rides over jumps, Becks is having a fantastic season but as usual she’s very quick to thank the owners and trainers who are giving her the chance to shine.
“I’m so grateful to all the owners,” she says. “I love what I do but without them I wouldn’t be riding winners. Hopefully I’m repaying their faith in me.”
We’ve got three female jockeys on our books here at Micky Hammond Racing and you can be sure that we’ll continue to give them every opportunity to develop, ride winners and fulfil their potential, and hopefully keep doing their bit for girl power in racing.
Photo credit: Steven Jones