Ned Fox relishes ‘biggest ride of his CAREER’
Conditional jockey Ned Fox is optimistic he can maintain his unbeaten record aboard Green Book by turning the “greatest race of my career” into victory in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton Park tomorrow (Saturday January 15).
The 21-year-old was given the chance to perform on the big stage after being offered the ride on Green Book by trainer Venetia Williams as part of the Listed competition, the total prize money of which has been increased to 100,000 £ (vs £45,000 advertised). in 2021) thanks to a new partnership between The Jockey Club and Coral.
Fox has so far linked four winners under the rules and this will be the second time he has ridden Green Book in public, having led the winner of Chester Plate last year – the consolation race for horses who fail not qualify for the Chester final. Cup – to glory in a conditional handicap from the jockeys at Haydock Park last month.
green paper proved he will remain tomorrow’s 2m 5f trip on his last outing at Ludlow on December 22 and Fox believes his steed has major claims to complete a hat-trick of hurdle wins on what will be his racing task most difficult jump to date.
The jockey said: “This is definitely the biggest race of my career. I must say a big thank you to Venetia Williams and the owners for giving me the opportunity. I can’t wait to be there.
“It will only be his fifth hurdle race and he is just getting used to it. The first time I won against him he didn’t jump brilliantly, but he jumped well enough to get away with it. out and he didn’t lose momentum at the hurdles.
“The next day in Ludlow he jumped better and I hope in Kempton he will be perfect because it’s a big step up for him.
“It’s out of the question for him to see the trip as he won it last time out and that form has since been reinforced with runner-up Bridge North coming out and winning.
“The win at Chester on the Flat was a big win so he has solid form behind him. If he shows something like that in a race like this we are confident he will have a good chance.
Fox didn’t know for sure he’d be teaming up with Green Book, who he describes as “a little guy with big ears”, until closing statements yesterday (Thursday) morning, but he felt like the ride could happen. .
He explained: ‘I found out on Wednesday I was potentially in line for the ride when Venetia was walking around with a landlord and she introduced me and said ‘it’s very possible he’ll lose his £10 claim , which you lose after rolling five winners on Saturday”. I thought that was interesting and at the time of reporting it confirmed my suspicions.
“I rode him a bit at home and he’s a little dude with big ears. He walks around the yard with his ears pricked up all the time. He’s a cool little horse with such a great personality.
“He’s not one to blow you away with what he does at home, but it’s an easy ride. Everyone is interested in him and that’s why he is one of the yard’s favorite horses.
After working for Tom Lacey, Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Potter, the County Limerick-born racer hasn’t looked back since joining Grand National-winning trainer Williams in October.
He said: “As soon as I left school I went to see Tom Lacey but I struggled a bit there. The first lockdown came and in 2020 I went back to Ireland and that summer there, I worked for Aidan O’Brien.
“That’s when Ryan Potter called me asking if I wanted to work full time there, so I decided to try again in the UK. I had a good season with Ryan and he m gave a lot of races under the rules and had my first winner with him.
“I left Ryan Potter and started coming into Venetia one day a week. Then she offered me a job a few weeks later and I took it with both hands because it was a huge opportunity. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
“Venetia is good to work with and everyone has huge respect for her. I like working there because the boys and girls in the yard are great fun. There is always a good atmosphere in the yard.
One of Fox’s rivals tomorrow will be more established jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jr, who rides Carys’ Commodity, trained by his father Jonjo.
It has now been three years since O’Neill Jnr teamed up with 16-1 Big Time Dancer to win the 2019 Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. It was the first major race success for the 23-year-old, who has claimed a freshman triumph for the first time in his career aboard Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month.
Reflecting on his 2019 win and the doors it opened for him, O’Neill said: “It seems like quite a long time now, three years. I think it’s made a big difference in my career, d Especially since it wasn’t for Dad either – it was for Jennie Candlish.
“It just made me stand out a bit more having a big winner on a Saturday on ITV. It was a competitive race and I was on an underdog so it was a good shock and it definitely helped my career without end.
“There are usually a lot of riders in Lanzarote and it’s a very competitive handicap. It’s a great race and Kempton is a great track. It’s a speed track and you need a horse that can move there and hopefully ride one more this year.
“Three years ago Lanzarote was a real springboard and I had my first Cheltenham Festival winner a few months later. I then had a Punchestown Festival winner. They were all for different coaches and that helped me get noticed.
“I was then able to connect with the Tizzards. They were brilliant with me and put me on some nice horses like Native River, Copperhead and Mister Malarky. I won some great races.
“You need a big winner to propel you to the next stage and luckily my winner from Lanzarote came at the right time.”
Jockey Club press release