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My latest ‘RISING STAR’ jockey interview sees me talk to Harry Bannister who has become more prominent with plenty of success this NH season. He is one of our leading conditional riders having turned professional after winning two National Amateur titles
Harry is currently second only to namesake Harry Cobden in the conditional riders table thanks to more than 20 winners, especially for his boss Warren Greatrex as well as riding winners for several other yards
After celebrating another win yesterday (21.11.16) at Kempton aboard MIDTECH VALENTINE i spoke to Harry:
Date and Place of Birth
8th June 1994 from Skipton in North Yorkshire
Who inspired you to get into racing and when did you first realise you wanted to be a jockey
I think being a jockey has been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Dad rode Point to Points and the odd Hunter Chase so I’d say I wanted to be like him. We always had ponies at home and Dad owned some decent horses so it was good to go racing from a young age to watch them
What age did you first ride
I’d say that’s a question for Mum or Dad but very young, 1 or 2 just sitting up on them really
When was first actual race ride
I had my first ride in January of 2011 on my Uncle Tom’s horse Sonevafushi trained by Cherry Coward in the novice riders race at Sheriff Hutton
What are your strengths and weaknesses
I like to think I present a horse well into a fence and am pretty regimented on my fitness. I’m not fantastic with my stick in the left hand but my jockey coach Nick Bentley and I are working on all the areas I can improve upon
Who were your jockey idols you looked up to or maybe based yourself on
It was always A P McCoy for me, I loved his attitude to it all and how strong he was. I think everyone admired that
What & When was your first winner
I was very lucky to win the race I mentioned earlier on Sonevafushi, but my first winner under rules was at Cartmel on Dad’s horse Fine Parchment on his birthday (27th May) too which made it even more special
Which would you regard as your biggest win so far
I wouldn’t say I’ve had many big wins really, I’ve been lucky enough to win the amateur title under rules twice so I suppose that
Which racecourses do you like / dislike and why
I love Cheltenham, the whole buzz and atmosphere of the place is magnificent. I have been very lucky at Stratford too so I enjoy riding there. Sedgefield would be my least favourite as I can’t seem to buy a winner there !
Who gives you your best advice
I’ve always had a good group of people that give me some great advice but it would probably be Dad and my younger brother Archie. I’d speak to them both after every ride and they are very supportive of it all. As are Mum and Roddy my other brother. In racing, my agent Chris Broad and his wife Jane are always very level headed and help me with anything I have to ask
Favourite horse – that you have ridden and would like to have ridden
My favourite horse to ride was Borero, he basically taught me it all and he won 5 in one season when I was just getting going in point to points. I just had to sit and steer! I’d love to have ridden Sprinter Sacre for sheer class and on his day Moscow Flyer too, I loved watching Dad’s horse Hussard Collonges so would have been great to have a spin on him. From a flat perspective I think anyone would say Frankel, he was breathtaking
What is the best horse you have ever ridden
I’ve been lucky to get the chance to ride some lovely horses but I’d say (although she’s only had a few runs) La Bague Au Roi (below) for my boss Warren Greatrex. She has a massive engine and gives you such a classy feel
What time do you get up in the morning most days and what would be your average kind of day ?
Up at 5 most mornings, will ride out and then go to wherever I am racing. It’s key to ride out as much as possible I feel, shows your interest and keeps your fitness up. Plus it’s great to get to know the horses you may ride
Which stables do you work for or ride out at the moment
I’m full time for Warren Greatrex (below) which is a great job to have. I’m lucky to have connections with the likes of Charlie Mann and Alex Hales, although that said; Chris Broad does a fantastic job and getting me rides for trainers out of that bracket
Who are your best mates in the weighing room ?
I think it’s key to try get on with everyone in the weighing room if you can. Obviously you will have disagreements but I’d say I’d be closer to the other conditionals such as Harry Cobden
What’s the worst part of the job !
I love racing and don’t really see it as a job, but I’d have to say the driving really takes it out of you. However, it’s part of it and has to be done! It’s good to share lifts with other jockeys when you can though
What hobbies or sports do you like to watch or play away from racing ?
I enjoy playing Golf but its a fair weather game! I really like watching all sport if I’m honest but I do like Cricket and Athletics if they are on
Favourite food and drink
Favourite drink is very boring but any kind of squash! My favourite food would be Dad’s roast chicken although I hardly ever have that these days! So probably something with pasta
Favourite TV and Film & Music
I love Gogglebox and First Dates, anything easy to watch! I like any sort of music, whatever is on at the moment really. I enjoy most films except horror, I’m a bit of a wimp!
Which course would you like to ride a winner at this year (even if you’ve already ridden a win there)
I’d love to have another Cheltenham winner but also Haydock. Dad is a director there and it’s our local track so that would be really nice
If you were put in charge of racing for one day what changes would you make ?
I would increase prize money for lower class races. I think the way that the French do it by putting the money back into racing is definitely something we should look into
What are your ambitions for the near future
I’d love to be Champion Conditional, I think we may struggle to catch Harry Cobden but I’ll give it a good crack! I’d also really like to ride 50 winners if I am lucky so will try my hardest for that too
Can you give readers a horse to follow for the rest of the season
I like a horse called Rockportion who I won a bumper on at Uttoxeter in the summer. Will be interesting when he goes hurdling so fingers crossed
Big thanks and my appreciation to Harry for his time and best of luck to him for the rest of the jumps season