GB: Ben Curtis – ‘My only regret is I didn’t get the all-weather record’

Horse Racing Ben Curtis jockey
Ben Curtis: runaway winner of the all-weather jockeys’ title with 101 victories.
Photo: Arena Racing Company

GB: Jockey Ben Curtis, trainer Mick Appleby and owner Godolphin are today announced as the champions of their respective categories for season seven of the All-Weather Championships.

The AWC Champion Apprentice Jockey, Horse of The Year and Winning Most Horse are also revealed.

Each of the six accolades carries a cash prize (of up to £10,000) and the winners have all kindly decided to donate all or a proportion of this money to an NHS charity to help fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, totalling over £25,000.

Good Friday traditionally sees the climax of the All-Weather Championships, with the £1 million Finals Day meeting at Lingfield Park. Whilst the suspension of racing has meant that the fixture will not go ahead, the All-Weather Championships and respective champions are delighted to support SASH, the charity for East Surrey Hospital and all the services provided by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, local to Lingfield Park.

Andrew Bickerdike, fundraising manager at SASH, said: “We are hugely grateful to all the various all-weather champions, and to Arena Racing Company, for this incredible show of support for our local hospital staff at this busy time.

“It is very much appreciated by all of us here at SASH Charity and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. As a local hospital charity, the support of the racing community, and organisations and individuals of national and international standing is something we are very grateful for. Thank you from all of us.”

Curtis is the runaway winner of the all-weather champion jockey award, which is supported by Great British Racing. The former Irish champion apprentice amassed 101 successes, one shy of the record set by Luke Morris in 2015, which he would inevitably have eclipsed had racing not been suspended. Morris (67 wins) and Hollie Doyle (58) were the only other riders to reach the half-century mark.

GB: Ben Curtis has jockeys’ title on his mind as he hits 100 on the all-weather

“I have had a brilliant campaign on the all-weather over the winter,” said Curtis. “I rode winners for a lot of different contacts, particularly Mick Appleby and Tony Carroll, who provided me with a lot of winners. Mick puts a lot of focus on the all-weather and it was great to see him get his just rewards by being champion trainer.

“I had great support around me – I have a brilliant agent in Simon Dodds, my dad came over and drove me for a good while, and my wife kept my head in the right place and looked after our young lad, so I did not have to worry about any of that.

“My wife was very much at the forefront of keeping me motivated. If I had a bad day, she was quick to pick me up. It was a big team effort from a lot of people.

“Luke Morris and Hollie Doyle kept me on my toes the whole way through it,” added Curtis. “Both of them were riding winners relentlessly and it meant I had to up my game. In any sport you need competition, and I think the competition was rife this year.

“The quality of racing and horse on the all-weather has improved substantially and there are a lot of people behind the scenes who do a great job. The people working behind the camera such as Simon Mapletoft, Jason Weaver and so on are doing a great job of pushing all-weather racing.

“My one regret is falling just short of Luke Morris’s record. I would have loved to set a new British record for the all-weather and, had we been able to finish the season, hopefully I would have done that.

“I am giving a donation of £2,000. The NHS do so much for us on a daily basis. I have had a few falls and they have always looked after me impeccably. I think now more than ever people are appreciating what they do.”

Even-numbered years clearly mean something to Mick Appleby, who claims his third trainers’ title after coming out on top in 2016 and 2018. The season started on October 22 and Appleby sent out 54 winners from his Rutland base, 15 more than his nearest challenger Tony Carroll.

Appleby, who has also pledged £2,000 of his prize, said: “I think that is our best tally of winners for the All-Weather Championships, even though the season ended prematurely. I have a great team of staff and owners, and it is lovely to win the title again.

“We thought at the start of the season that we had a nice team of horses, certainly stronger than last season, and it is great that it has worked out that way. Hopefully, they can carry that form on during the turf season.”

Godolphin lifts the all-weather champion owner title for the sixth consecutive year with 26 winners, while George Rooke is champion apprentice after registering 24 wins during the campaign, ten clear of runner-up Grace McEntee. Rooke’s campaign was headlined by an across the card four-timer at Southwell and Kempton Park on February 26.

All-weather horse of the year is decided on prize-money and this year’s award goes to the John Gosden-trained Dubai Warrior, who won all three starts, most recently dominating the opposition in the G3 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield. Winningmost horse was the Gary Moore-trained Agent Of Fortune, owned by the Foreign Legion syndicate. The five-year-old mare won seven times on the all-weather this season, improving a remarkable 32lb in the handicap.

Syndicate member Andy Thornes said: “All credit needs to go to Gary Moore and his team. They absolutely adore Agent Of Fortune and have done an absolutely amazing job in transforming her to win seven of her first nine races for us.

“We have been on an incredible journey since buying her for just 3,000 guineas at the sales in October and we are looking forward to seeing her back on the track soon.”

All-weather champions 2019-20

Jockey: Ben Curtis (101 wins)
Trainer: Mick Appleby (54 wins)
Owner: Godolphin (26 wins)
Apprentice: George Rooke (24 wins)
Horse (money): Dubai Warrior (£89,605)
Horse (wins): Agent Of Fortune (7 wins)

• Learn more about the All-Weather Championships

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