Darlington-based jockey's first win gets Royal seal of approval (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Darlington-based jockey's first win gets Royal seal of approval
A TEENAGE jockey was congratulated on his first winner by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Connor Nichol was presented with a trophy by the royal couple after winning the Dumfries House Ayrshire Handicap – the feature race at Ayr Racecourse, in Scotland, on Friday, September 21.
The 18-year-old rode Osteopathic Remedy, owned by Kevin Kirkup, which is trained by Michael Dods at Denton Hall Stables, near Darlington, where he is learning his trade.
Mr Nichol said: “It was a big achievement so early in my career, basically a dream come true.
“I knew he was a gutsy horse and the lads were saying I had a good chance.
“I’d had a nervous feeling and I’ve never felt that before, so thought it could be a big day. I just hope to keep it going.
“The win was still sinking in when I met Prince Charles.”
The royal couple, who use the titles the Duke and Duchess of Rothesey in Scotland, attended the Ayr Gold Cup Festival fixture because it raised funds for Dumfries House, a stately home and estate saved from ruin by a consortium of charities and heritage groups headed by Prince Charles.
The race at Ayr was Mr Nichol’s 12th after obtaining his racing licence at the end of July.
Mr Nichol has been around horses since childhood and was keen to follow his grandfather, Bobby Beasley, a jockey who became assistant trainer to the late Arthur Stephenson, and his parents, Susan Nichol and Shaun Beasley, both work riders, into the saddle.
Originally from Kirk Merrington, near Spennymoor , County Durham, and now living in Newfield, near Bishop Auckland, he started riding at about five.
He has competed in most equestrian disciplines, including show jumping, dressage, cross-country and point to point, and has followed South Durham Hunt.
After leaving Spennymoor Comprehensive School at 16, he rode out for Tracy Waggott before joining the team at Denton Hall Stables as a work rider and groom in March this year.
He said: “I’ve always been around horses and always wanted to work with them.
“I know I’ve had a very good start as a jockey and it’s what I want to keep doing.
“At school I was just about the only one who rode every day – when I was there my mind was on horses and what I had to do when I finished.
“I have to concentrate on my weight and work hard, probably not like other 18- year-olds.”
Mr Dods said: “He is a good rider, with an old head on young shoulders.
“As long as he keeps that, works hard, keeps an eye on his weight and takes the chances he gets, there is a lot of potential there.