Truro born point-to-point jockey Will Biddick, now based at Ditcheat, Somerset, wrote himself into the sporting history books at the Eggesford meeting at Upcott Cross on Saturday (27 April).
Biddick, 32, broke the record for a British point-to-point rider when achieving his 415th career victory in the saddle, beating the previous record set by Richard Burton, who retired in 2011.
He rode his first winner in 2004 and achieved another personal landmark of 68 wins in a season in 2015. After he had held the British title on six consecutive occasions, he was superseded by Alex Edwards last year.
Asked whether the record total was more important to him than being champion jockey, he told me, “It is nice to get the record, but my main aim is to get the title back this year.” As I write he has 27 winners, just one behind Alex Edwards.
Much respected by fellow jockeys, he took it in good heart when amidst rousing cheers they celebrated the occasion by manhandling him into the paddock water trough after his win on Kernel Victor
Britain’s record score for wins in the sport of point-to-pointing could be broken this weekend by Will Biddick.
He needs just one success to equal the 414 winners achieved by Shropshire’s Richard Burton until his retirement in 2011. Biddick, 32, who lives in Somerset, is set to be in action at the Devon meetings of Upcott Cross on Saturday and Stafford Cross on Sunday.
It was at Stafford Cross, in April 2004, that Biddick rode his first winner. Born in Cornwall, the son of a farmer who trained point-to-pointers, he later moved to Herefordshire to work for trainer Venetia Williams, and while there rode a winner at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival on Something Wells.
A few days later he finished runner-up in the Midlands Grand National on the Williams-trained Flintoff and opted to try his hand as a conditional (professional) jockey, but battles with the scales meant he soon switched back to amateur status and a return to point-to-pointing (where the weights carried are generally higher).
He finished third in the 2010/11 men’s championship to Burton, and from that point established his own hold over the title, winning it for six years in a row from 2011/12 to 2016/17.During much of that time he was riding for the powerful Dorset yard of Richard Barber, and then that trainer’s grandson, Somerset-based Jack.
Biddick had to give best to new Foran Equine men’s champion Alex Edwards in 2017/18,and the two riders are now involved in another battle for the championship, which Shropshire-based Edwards leads 28 to 25.
Other career highlights for Biddick include a score of 68 point-to-point wins in 2014/15, easily a British record for victories in one season, and a successin Ireland’s prestigious Champion Hunters’ Chase at Punchestown (2018 on Caid Du Berlais). He also finished second in the 2006 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Mon Mome, one month before landing a handicap chase on the same horse at Aintree. Three years later Mon Mome won the Grand National under jockey Liam Treadwell.
Safety and welfare for both horse and rider is a fundamental aim of the Point-to-Point Authority.
Multiple champion point-to-point riders Gina Andrews and Will Biddick have given their backing to plans requiring new riders to undertake a short assessment with qualified coaches before riding in the sport.
For the 2018/19 point-to-point season, new riders – and those who have not ridden in a race for five years or more – who apply for a Riders Qualification Certificate (RQC) will be required to meet with a PPA-approved, Level 3 BHA Jockey Coach.
The assessment will equip riders with more confidence and ensure that areas needing work will be supported, in turn maximising their enjoyment of the sport.
The BHA grant funded sessions will be delivered regionally by a small team of PPA-approved, qualified, self-employed BHA Jockey Coaches, working to agreed criteria to ensure consistency. The coaches will be geographically spread throughout the country and include Grand National-winning jockeys Carl Llewellyn and Mick Fitzgerald, as well as Colin Brown, rider of Desert Orchid.
At least one month before their first ride, riders will be required to arrange to meet with an approved PPA Jockey Coach, to demonstrate their ability to ride a horse at walk, trot, canter and over fences.
Reigning British champion Gina Andrews, said: “I think it’s a great idea and will definitely benefit people who aren’t necessarily from a racing background. Hopefully it will make things safer, not only for the rider, but for those they are riding against, as well.”
Six-time champion Will Biddick added: “I wholeheartedly support this new assessment for riders, as it will surely give inexperienced riders more awareness and confidence. I certainly wish I could have benefitted from this support when I started out.”
Vocational training manager at the BHA, Gill Greeves, said: “The PPA is to be commended for its approach to providing coaching and training opportunities for new and existing riders. Jockey Coaches are experienced in delivering a range of coaching activities and we look forward to supporting the PPA in this important initiative that will ensure riders are fully prepared for race-riding.”
Master of Foxhounds Association representative Alan Hill says: “In the modern era clearly we don’t see young riders on non-racing days as much as we used to, so to have a BHA Jockey Coach casting an expert eye can only be a good thing. As an ex-rider myself, I think it will be a great help to have this input and feedback so early in your career, I wish I’d had the same privilege.”
Anthony and Rachael Honeyball have an exciting new opportunity for an amateur rider for the 2017-2018 season with the guaranteed ride on seasoned chaser As De Fer in point-to-points.
The Honeyballs are based near Beaminster in Dorset where they train 40 or so horses in exceptional facilities including a vast indoor school and a gallops which has produced many graded winners under rules.
Last season Anthony trained 32 winners, his best so far with nearly £270,000 in prize money. The figures are supported by consistently solid results over several seasons as Anthony and Rachael, a former leading jockey, continue to make their mark.
They enjoy the patronage of leading jumps owner JP McManus whose Regal Encore won the listed Lavazza Jolie Silver Cup at Ascot in December. Last season they also saddled Fountains Windfall to win Aintree’s Grade 3 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle.
As well as the ride on As De Fer, a veteran of 36 races with six wins to his credit, the successful applicant will also benefit from regular lessons, including grid work, with Olympic pentathlete coach Jabeena Maslin in the indoor school. Accommodation is available if required.