During every Flat season there seems to be an apprentice jockey well worth following. A rider who is claiming weight and can take full advantage of it with polished and strong rides.
We’ve had the likes of Oisin Murphy, Jack Garrity and Tom Marquand in recent years and in 2016, I think George Wood is the name you need to look out for.
Still claiming seven pounds, Wood is based with the excellent James Fanshawe and has made an excellent start to his riding career.
The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he doesn’t look like an apprentice when riding in a finish, which is seriously impressive. It’s not as if he’s only claiming three pounds and is about to become a professional. This jockey is very inexperienced and looks superb value for his claim.
Of course, during the season he is going to make mistakes and get plenty of things wrong, but his claim can pay dividends in some big handicaps this year and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some top yards using this rider.
At the time of writing this article Wood has had three wins from his last four rides and even managed to secure the Suffolk Stakes Handicap on 2,000 Guineas day at Newmarket.
He gave the horse Knight Owl a peach of a ride was strong in the finish. He was just that though and had Oisin Murphy, James Doyle, Luke Morris, Silvestre De Sousa, Pat Smullen and Paul Hanagan all behind him.
What’s also impressive is that a couple of days before that, Wood had steered an inexperienced three-year-old home in a maiden and showed that he is a real horseman. He seems to be tactically well aware of what is going on and while he’s claiming seven pounds, he is most certainly a jockey worth siding with.
You only have to look down the line at jockeys who have become a Champion Apprentice in the past and see the likes of Ryan Moore, William Buick and Paul Hanagan on the list to see what a good achievement it is and I think George Wood can go very close to landing this prize.
Even if he doesn’t quite have the firepower to win the title though, Wood is set for a massive season and a can go onto become a top jockey. Just watch him ride and see if you agree that is it tough to notice he’s an apprentice.