Focus on Conditional jockey: TOM MIDGLEY


  • Quote: ‘My biggest ambition is to ride my claim out and ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival’

By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive

Teenage Conditional jockey Tom Midgley’s biggest ambition is to ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival following his latest win on Bavington Bob at Carlisle.

“My biggest ambition is to ride my claim out and ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival,” Malton, Yorkshire born Tom told me.

Tom rode his first winner on Start Time at Thirsk in the Betfair Novice Riders Series under the watchful eye of BHA Jockey Coach Russ Garritty in 2018.

“The feeling after winning for the first time as a Conditional jockey? – there’s nothing else like it!,” said Tom, whose daily routine starts at 5.30-6am, returning home at 6pm.

Tom, who has been riding at Sedgefield, Newcastle and Carlisle this week is a valuable asset to trainers, able to claim weight.

What is a claim and who can claim weight allowances? Under a weight allowance claim it reduces the amount a horse has to carry with conditional and amateur jockeys.

Amateurs are not professionals, but Conditionals are riding with a view to turning professional against seasoned professional jockeys with a wealth of experience.

Amateur and conditional jockeys get to claim a weight allowance. Claimers begin taking 10lb off a horse’s weight, reduced to 7lb, 5lb and 3lb, respectively.

Owners and trainers book riders like Tom, sometimes on high-profile horses in valuable handicaps, depending on the terms of a group or graded race, you are unlikely to be allowed to claim in events at Listed level or higher.

Rules are different in handicaps including the Aintree Grand National and the Ebor at York, for example, but still allowed to claim weight.

In handicaps, the weight a horse carries is allotted, based on their official rating in relation to the top rated horse in the field.

Tom Midgley rode Bavington Bob to victory at Carlisle on March 11.

“Using a claimer can offset any rise in the Handicap in a horse’s weight following its last run,” said Tom.

“Taking that extra weight off could be the difference between winning, placing and/or losing valuable prizemoney,” he added.

Tom has rode for a plethora of Flat and Jumps trainers, including Michael Appleby, Phil Kirby, Paul Midgley, Nigel Tinkler, Mick Easterby, Tim Easterby, Sam England, Rebecca Menzies, Fergal O’Brien, Marjorie Fife, David Thompson and Peter Winks.

His biggest achievement was being the Champion amateur Flat jockey and Tom, whose biggest regret was turning professional too soon, said: “I’ve always been around horses and racehorses – it’s something I wanted to do.”

He quipped: “I started riding – probably before I could walk! – making my Conditional racing debut at Newcastle, finishing second.”

With racing being behind closed doors to spectators, due to the coronavirus outbreak, he said: “During the coronavirus situation I’m just happy that there’s been racing to keep me busy.”

Tom, who says there’s plenty of banter in the jockeys room on raceday, said: “The boys are all good sports.”

His latest success was at Carlisle on March 11, riding Ann Hamilton trained six-year-old Bavington Bob, allocated 11st 12lbs, to victory: “It was great to ride my 10 pound claim out on Bavington Bob,” said Tom, who claimed 3lbs.

“Big thanks to Ann and Ian Hamilton for the opportunity – and everyone who’s helped me get this far!,” added

Caption: Tom’s first winner on Start Time at Thirsk in the Betfair Novice Riders Series.

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