By Tom Lee

Racing's Rising Stars: 3 Young Talents Sparkling On The Big Stage

By Tom Lee
Benoit de la Sayette on board Haqeeqy in the Lincoln at Doncaster.
Benoit de la Sayette on board Haqeeqy in the Lincoln at Doncaster.

Our resident columnist Tom Lee picks out three rising stars from the world of horse racing, and talks glowingly about their fledgling careers...

Racing's rising stars: the upcoming talent about whom you'll be hearing plenty more of in the weeks, months and years ahead.

An obvious starting point for a column of this nature is trainer Emmet Mullins, a young man with an uncanny knack for getting one ready when the money is down.

Based in the horse racing heartland of Bagenalstown, County Carlow, the 30-year-old doesn't say too much publicly, but clearly is blessed with a forensic eye for both the form book and racing calendar.

Eye-catching for both his high strike-rate and his versatility, his stable churn out successes on the Flat, over hurdles, fences, bumpers, and in races with both speed and stamina demands.

Almost predictably given what we know now, back in June 2015 he struck with his first ever runner, scoring in a bumper at Kilbeggan. Since then, winners have arrived in Ireland, England, Scotland and France. 

No sooner had the dust settled on his remarkable Cheltenham Festival triumph when landing the Plate with The Shunter, (the well backed 9/4 favourite who had also struck in Kelso's Morebattle Hurdle 12 days previously), Mullins was back in top gear this weekend and switched his attentions to the Flat. 

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Available at 25/1 the night before, three-year-old Born To Sea gelding Tashkhan was having his first attempt in handicap company and his first run for three months as he lined up off a modest mark of 57 in Navan's mile and a quarter 0-70. 

Backed as if defeat wasn't even an option, he won going away at a starting price of 9/2. 

One suspects the Mullins household was in good spirits that night. 

Let's have a drill down into those stats:

  •  Over the sticks in Britain he's a thumping eight from 18 for a 44% success rate
  •  This season alone in Britain he has sent out four winners from just six runners at a massive 66% strike-rate
  •  Almost as impressive as his National Hunt tally in Ireland over the last five years, a spell in which he's operating at a 21% strike-rate with 37 winners from only 176 runners 

Lest we forget, this talented individual also enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success as a rider, piloting Sir Des Champs to victory back in 2011 when he landed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

You can be pretty sure Pipe would approve of what Emmet Mullins is achieving as a trainer.

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Switching to the saddle, another name about whom we'll be hearing plenty is youthful rider Benoit de la Sayette

Representing arguably British Flat racing's finest operation as apprentice to John and Thady Gosden, the 18-year-old had plenty of pressure on his shoulders when handed the plum ride on Haqeeqy in the big Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday.

The opening weekend's major prize has now fallen to a four-year-old five years on the spin after de la Sayette kept his cool when short of room two furlongs out, waiting for space and then switching his mount at the furlong pole, eating up ground as he swooped fast and late for a decisive length and a half verdict aboard the 9/2 shot. 

For the young rider this represents an astonishing rise: he only had his first ride under rules in November, and only booted home his first winner in December!

Like Emmet Mullins, his statistics are eye-watering. 

Yes, he's getting on the right ammunition in the correct races, but he still has to hold his nerve and deliver, something which is coming naturally at present, with 10 winners from 34 rides for a 29% strike-rate.

The Gosdens will be rationing his opportunities to protect his seven pound claim, and in doing so ensure this valuable part of their team is available for more big handicap assignments as the Flat season develops. 

Last but not least, keep an eye on the progress of young jump jockey Jordan Gainford.

For what other reason would he have been employed by nine different trainers in the last two weeks alone, than because he is as the name of this article suggests, on his way to the top. 

In his third season as a conditional rider, the 20-year-old stepped up to the mark when employed by none other than, you've guessed it, Emmet Mullins, when getting the job done on The Shunter at the recent Cheltenham Festival, a meeting where he also finished second in the Pertemps Final on The Bosses Oscar, while also ending up in the runner up spot on Petit Mouchoir in the County Hurdle, part of his five rides in total at jumps racing's most important fixture. 

Just 48 hours after the curtain came down on Cheltenham it was off to Northern Ireland for Gainford, where a book of four rides at Downpatrick included a 24/1 double, with winners for Denise 'Sneezy' Foster and Edward O'Grady. 

Keep all three on side for the foreseeable future.

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