By Jon Lees
GB: Rob Hornby and Rossa Ryan are to step up to ride as first-choice riders for Ralph Beckett this season as part of a revised jockey line-up.
With Harry Bentley’s association with the stable having come to an end, the pair will share the bulk of the stable’s mounts, depending on availability, with Robbie Downey and Hector Crouch playing supporting roles.
Bentley rode in Dubai during the winter and has now been granted a short-term licence by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which will keep him overseas at least until July, but would have ridden as a freelance had he returned to Britain.
“I didn’t really have a first choice last year as from June 1 we were spreading it out,” said Beckett. “We were using Rob, Rossa and Harry last year and Rob rode 39 winners for us and the others around 20. With the one meeting a day rule it makes sense to spread it around.
“Our association with Harry has run its course. Rob is off at the moment but Rossa will ride when he is available. He is committed to Amo Racing, who have a lot of horses here, and Richard Hannon. Rob has commitments with Andrew Balding but when he is back from injury we will be using him plenty.
“Robbie Downey is in four days a week and Hector Crouch is going to be riding out as well when he finishes his quarantine.”
Hornby is not expected to return to action until May, having had surgery on his shoulder at the start of the year.
“He had a bad fall about 15 months ago when he pulled his shoulder out,” said Beckett. “Last year was fine until the shoulder popped out at Sandown in August on one of my horses and he couldn’t ride any sort of a finish.
“He went through the autumn riding plenty of winners but then was involved in a pile-up at Wolverhampton in December. The shoulder got damaged again then.”
During a frenetic end to last year Beckett hit a century of winners for only the second time since he started in 1999, despite part of the season being lost due to lockdown. He has had one winner in 2021 but has had only 21 starters.
He has a potential Qipco 2,000 Guineas candidate in Dewhurst Stakes fourth Devilwala, while G3 winner Lullaby Moon is one of three fillies engaged in the 1,000 Guineas.
“Devilwala will run in a trial, probably at Newmarket in either the Craven or the Free Handicap,” he said. “Lullaby Moon could run in a trial or go straight to the 1,000 Guineas if it came up soft. Equally she could go to France or Ireland as we will only go where the ground is.
“Then there are maiden winners like Vesela, Pamelo and Twisted Reality, who would all have opportunities to show up at home and if they came forward we would roll the dice. We have a big team of handicappers as well, plenty of 90 and 100 rated horses, so there is lots to look forward to.”
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