Apprentice jockey Shelley Birkett rides at her local track Newmarket tomorrow, looking to complete the second leg of an unprecedented double as she bids to become the first female rider to win two British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Racing Excellence Series in one season.
The local rider is part of a well-known Newmarket racing family, and has been Apprentice jockey to her mother, Julia Feilden since December 2012. She won the Hands and Heels Series last week at Newbury (Friday 25th October) and tops the table of the Training Race Apprentice Series competition, the final of which is held tomorrow (Friday 1st November) at Newmarket.
If she secures success in the final at her local track she will complete the double of titles, and take home a total of £2,000 in prize money to spend on riding equipment.
Shelley said: “I have been specifically targeting the Racing Excellence Series and these have helped me develop my riding skills. To ride out my 7lb claim in my first year as an Apprentice was my aim for the year and I am so pleased to have achieved that.”
“This year has been made even sweeter because I have been riding for my mum, she has given me so much support. I also owe a hug thanks to my agent, John Ford and BHA Jockey Coach, Philip Robinson. I’ve always lived in Newmarket and the thought of completing this double at my local track is exciting, I can’t think of a better place to do it.
“If I do win, I am planning on spending the £2000 prize money on an Equiciser, so I can continue to improve my riding technique. Then I’ll be staying in the UK this winter, I’m aiming on building up my contacts and getting some rides for new trainers on the all-weather.”
The BHA Racing Excellence initiative consists of seven separate Series, for jockeys of different experience across flat, all-weather and jump codes. The Series has been devised to offer help to young jockeys in the form of race-riding skills, guidance on how to conduct themselves with employers, owners and the media and offering advice on how to adopt a professional and structured approach to their career, under the guidance of experienced Jockey Coaches.
Points are awarded to jockeys for winning or being placed, as well as for riding skills, professionalism and conduct on the racecourse, so Shelley does not necessarily have to win the race at Newmarket in order to secure the Series. The final results will be announced on the day.
Previous winners of BHA Racing Excellence Series who have gone on to successful careers include Luke Morris, who is in the top 10 of the British Flat Jockeys Championship this season, Ian Popham, who is currently in the top 10 of the Conditional Jump Jockeys Championship, and Jason Hart, winner of the Haydock Park Apprentice Series this year (one of the seven Racing Excellence Series) and leader in the British Apprentice Jockeys Championship for 2013.
Shelley Birkett is available for interview and can be contacted directly on 07969 777694.