Royal Ascot revelation Danny Tudhope is on the hunt for an even bigger prize.
The Ayrshire ace banged in a stunning four-timer at the greatest show on turf last month and is now one of the hot favourites for the 2019 Flat Jockeys’ Championship.
With 71 winners since the start of the campaign and a strike-rate of 25%, he’s enjoying the most lucrative season of his career to date.
And unlike many of his colleagues who have commitments to bigger owners, his job as retained rider to Clipper Logistics means he has plenty of time to ride where he wants.
He told me: “I’m in too strong a position not to give it a go.
“Having a good Royal Ascot helped. I’ve been getting the leg-up on some nice horses and, more importantly, they’ve been winning.
“In previous years I’ve been going to the meeting to make up the numbers, but not this time. I was lucky enough to be on the right ones.”
The 32-year-old would have been any price you liked before the start of the season, but bookies now have him as short as 11-10 for the coveted jockeys’ crown.
However, sitting less than a nose ahead of fellow weighing-room heavyweight Oisin Murphy means he can’t afford to take his foot off the gas.
Tudhope added: “Oisin’s been going for the title from the very first day of the season.
“I’m not saying I wasn’t trying at the start of the campaign, but I find myself in a good position now.
“I’ve been getting more and more rides, but they’re proper rides. I think that’s why my strike-rate is so good, because a lot of the time I’m riding the class horse in the race.
“Laura, my agent, has been doing a fantastic job. I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes a lot of the time!”
Qatar Racing’s most valuable investment, Oisin Murphy, has chivvied home 66 winners – five behind Tudhope – and is sure this year will see him break new ground.
Second behind Silvestre De Sousa in last year’s competition, the Killarney boy-wonder will do anything to avoid a similar result this time – and with 392 rides already this campaign, he’s certainly giving it his best shot.
Murphy said: “I tried really hard to win it last year, something I didn’t declare to the press at the time.
“This season I’ve had a good start. The horses I’ve ridden have been flying and the people I’ve ridden for have been very good to me.
“Danny notched up a treble earlier in the week but I’m putting the pressure on now and hopefully I can keep it going.”
The 23-year-old landed his first Group 1 of the season last week with a blinding ride on Veracious in the Falmouth, and with Goodwood just around the corner, believes this is his time to shine.
He added: “Over the past couple of seasons this has been the time I ride my most winners.
“It’s not easy, though. I had two days of double meetings recently and didn’t get on the scoresheet.
“Hopefully the amount of rides I have will see me across the line. I’ve spoken before about how you need to keep chipping away. It’s important to keep your chin up.
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“At the moment I’m riding pretty well and I’ve just got to keep converting.
“My agent plays a massive part. The reason I’ve ridden more horses than everyone else is testament to his hard work and the relationship he has with trainers.”
With the best part of four months left to go, and the title race already neck and neck, the stage is well and truly set for a thrilling showdown.
The 2019 Champion Flat Jockey will be crowned on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 19th October. For more info & tickets, please visit: britishchampionsday.com