Lauren shines on Pontefract debut
Yesterday’s ten furlong apprentices’ handicap at Pontefract might not particularly have caught the public’s imagination, but it will certainly live long in the memory of one of the youngest members of our team here at Oakwood Stables.
The seven runner contest, in desperate ground, marked the race riding debut of eighteen year old apprentice Lauren Steade, our Sheffield born Northern Racing College graduate who has made amazing progress in the saddle during her twelve months here in Middleham.
Determined, bubbly and very focused, Lauren took out her apprentice licence last month and will be race riding for us throughout the summer, hopefully in slightly less demanding conditions, alongside our other apprentice Robbie Fitzpatrick, who has already partnered 24 winners in his five year career and joined us last season.
Loz conducted herself perfectly and didn’t look out of place in the slightest as she stepped out in the blue and yellow Maybe The Last Time silks to ride their seven year old Selkirk gelding Shalamzar, who had been struggling to find his form in five runs over hurdles this season, most recently finishing tailed off at Wetherby in February.
Drawn towards the outside of the small field, Loz and Shalamzar missed the start and were soon trailing in last place but Lauren didn’t panic and they gradually made up the ground to latch onto the rest of the field after a couple of furlongs. Shalamzar again found himself outpaced when the leaders kicked for home three furlongs out but much to our delight and to the excitement of Loz’s family and friends watching from the stands, they rallied in the home straight and made up three places, just failing to overhaul our other runner Russian Royale and passing the post eleven lengths in arrears of the winner Astra Hall.
We were really pleased with the efforts of both horses, as Russian Royale showed plenty of zest on her return from a little break on ground which wouldn’t have suited her and Shalamzar ran his best race so far for us in the hands of his young rider, who was fulfilling her lifelong ambition to follow in the footsteps of her grandad, Jack, who was a jumps jockey also based here in Middleham.
Loz joins our growing team of promising young jockeys here at Oakwood, as well as Robbie we’re also overseeing the fledgling careers of conditionals Hugo Thompson Brown and Billy Garritty and amateur jumps rider Joe Wright, while Fin O’Toole is enjoying a fantastic first full season over jumps with seventeen winners under his belt and the more experienced Joe Colliver continues to impress, needing just another ten winners to ride out his claim.
Our apprentice jockeys Lauren (left) and Robbie Fitzpatrick (red and black) in action at Pontefract today
We’re pleased to report that Lauren loved every minute of it and we hope that this was the start of a long and very successful career for our very likeable new apprentice, and having seen little Loz struggling to carry her saddle out of the weighing room after racing, we’re sure that her new job will provide a welcome boost for the local lead industry as well.
Well done Lauren, from all of us!
Thanks to a very proud dad, Paul Steade, for the brilliant photos!