Who was champion apprentice jockey in 2022?

For the uninitiated, the apprentice jockeys championship is decided on the number of winners ridden on the Flat, on turf and synthetic surfaces, between the Guineas Festival at Newmarket in early May and British Champions Day at Ascot in October. The champion apprentice jockey in 2022 was Benoit De La Sayette who, tellingly, became the first ‘claimer’ employed by Newmarket trainer John Gosden for 29 years.

De La Sayette had his first ride in public on Bosphorus, trained by Gosden, at Chelmsford on November 23, 2020; the Godolphin-owned colt ran green throughout and finished last of nine, beaten 14½ lengths. However, the rising star rode his first winner, Hint of Stars, trained by Kevin Philippart De Foy, at Newcastle on December 28, 2020 and went on to ride five more from his first 16 rides.

After such a stellar start to his career, it would be fair to say that De La Sayette may well have become champion apprentice in 2021, but for a six-month ban – albeit backdated – imposed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Disciplinary Panel after he tested positive for metabolites of cocaine and admitted to taking the drug ‘three or four times’. However, he returned to the saddle on October 17, 2021 and, for much of the 2022 season, was neck-and-neck with his nearest pursuer, Harry Davies, in the apprentice jockeys championship.

De La Sayette finally sealed the deal with victory on Running Lion, trained by Gosden, at Chelmsford on October 13, 2022 giving him an unassailable, six-winner lead over Davies heading to British Champions Day at Ascot two days later. All told, he rode 61 winners from 341 rides, at a strike rate of 18%, and won £735,945 in prize money. After officially collecting the champion apprentice trophy, De La Sayette paid tribute to his employer, saying, ‘I’m especially grateful to John and Thady Gosden, as well as the whole Clarehaven team. I have learnt so much from the amazing team there.’

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