Apprentice jockey Shelley Birkett rides at Newbury tomorrow, looking to complete the first 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 Newmarket-based rider currently tops the table in both the Hands and Heels and Training Race Apprentice Series competitions. If she secures success in the Hands and Heels Series at Newbury tomorrow she will then move on to the Training Race Series final at Newmarket on 1st November, with the ambition of securing the double title, and hopefully a bright future as a professional rider, as well as a total of £2,000 in prize money to spend on riding equipment.
The 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 in order to secure the Series. The final results will be announced on the day.
19-year-old Birkett is the daughter of Newmarket trainer Julia Feilden, for whom she has been riding as a licenced apprentice since December 2012. She said:
“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. We have been specifically targeting the Racing Excellence Series and these have helped me develop my riding skills.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to become the first female winner of two Racing Excellence Series in one season. However, if it does happen I will owe a lot to the team around me, especially my agent John Ford, and my trainer Julia Feilden, who just so happens to be my mother!”
Previous winners of 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.
In addition to the guidance offered by the Racing Excellence Series Jockey Coaches, Shelley also recently joined the BHA’s Jockey Coaching Scheme and will now be offered guidance by experienced former jockey Philip Robinson.
Shelley Birkett is available for interview and can be contacted directly on 07969 777694.
For more information about the Racing Excellence Series or the Jockey Coach Scheme please contact: [email protected]