Few jockeys are riding as well as Pat Cosgrave just now. A double at Brighton yesterday, could so easily have been four or five, and he now has an impressive 23% strike-rate.
With nine victories from his last 39 rides, Cosgrave is in scintillating form. And he’s not simply guiding home well-fancied contenders. The double yesterday came on a 16/1 shot and one priced at 10s. Of his seven mounts, he was no worse than third, finishing runner-up four times.
An apprentice with Aidan O’Brien back in the day, he arrived in the UK in 2004. Based in Newmarket, he set about developing contacts, and quickly established a good relationship with Mark Wallace and Jim Boyle in Epsom. It was Boyle that supplied the ammunition for a successful Brighton trip yesterday. Things didn’t go particularly well initially, and Cosgrave headed north in search of success.
He managed 120 winners in just two campaigns, and forged a relationship with Yorkshire trainer Robin Bastiman. In 2008 he landed the ride on Borderlescott, when the horse was aimed at the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. The meeting was abandoned and the race switched to the July Course at Newmarket. He tracked the leaders on the 12/1 shot, and managed to overhaul the South African mare, National Colour, inside the final furlong to win by less than a length, with Kingsgate Native back in third. He continued to ride for Bastiman throughout the season before a return to Newmarket.
Cosgrave became something of a sprint specialist, when in 2010 he rode Markab to a Group 1 victory in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, having gone close in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot a few months earlier. He’d also ridden Society Rock to a runners-up spot at Ascot in the Golden Jubilee. The following year he went one better in partnership with Fanshawe’s sprinter when landing the Group 1 six-furlong sprint. A month later the pair chased home Moonlight Cloud in the Maurice De Gheest at Deauville.
Now aged 34, Cosgrave will be hoping for further high-profile victories during this successful campaign. The man from County Down in Northern Ireland has developed a strong relationship with William Haggas in recent seasons, and the combo is often worth a second look. The pair teamed-up a couple of days back, when talented three-year-old filly Tirania, romped to success at Windsor in a maiden over a mile.
The duo hope to strike again on Saturday at Haydock, when Mubtasim heads for the Group 2 Sandy Lane. Could he be yet another big sprint success for Cosgrave?
It’s fair to say that things haven’t always been rosy for the talented jock. He landed a six-month ban by the Emirates Racing Authority stewards back in 2014, following a lengthy inquiry into a race at Meydan, when it appeared that he had allowed a stablemate to gain an advantage during a Group 1 event.
He was aboard the Mike de Kock trained Anaerobio, when appearing to move off the rail, allowing Christophe Soumillion the opportunity to sweep to the front aboard Vercingetorix. Found guilty, he was slapped with a ban, though the British Horseracing Authority later quashed the ban on appeal.
During the winter, Cosgrave resumed riding in Dubai, having paid an outstanding fine to the Emirates Racing Authority. The jockey had originally refused to pay £35,000, but winters in Dubai can be lucrative, and a jockey of his ability is always in demand. Cosgrave partnered up with the likes of de Kock and Saeed Bin Suroor. He also had the opportunity to ride for William Haggas.
Back in the UK, Cosgrave is clearly reinvigorated after a winter in Meydan. Rides this week at Kempton and Goodwood, will be followed by a couple of days in the north aboard some nice sorts at Haydock. He’s likely to get the leg-up on Learn By Heart on Friday. Owned by the Queen, this son of Frankel out of the speedy mare Memory, looks an exciting addition to the William Haggas yard. It’s shaping into an exciting campaign for the Irishman, and there’s little sign of that impressive strike-rate slipping just yet.