Last year (10 August – Culhane aims to revitalise his career in India) we reported that jockey Tony Culhane had turned his back on Britain for India. At the time he had no plans to return to these shores, but has now had a change of heart and is back and raring to go.
He explained the reasons for his return, saying, “I had a good time in India and was runner-up in what is known as their monsoon season jockey championship. When I left Britain last summer I felt the need for a change and the break has done me the world of good. I’m back full of enthusiasm with my batteries recharged.”
In truth, it isn’t just the racing that has brought Culhane back, as he has personal matters to deal with as well. That’s led to him living in a very unusual place for a jockey. Instead of one of the racing centres where it is easy to reach any number of stables to ride out, Culhane currently has a flat near Tower Bridge. He said, “I’m based in London at the moment because I’m going through a divorce and have a few things to sort out here. As it happens, it’s a handy place to be, with both Lambourn and Newmarket no more than an hour and a quarter away,”
For his return to race riding at Lingfield last Friday, Culhane was on the train, and says he’ll use public transport for there and Kempton as it is easier than driving through London traffic. Things didn’t go quite as planned, though, as his first ride back, on Uganda Gold for George Baker turned out to be a non-runner. Culhane was back on the train to Surrey on Sunday to ride Annaley My Darling into third place for Jo Hughes.
Culhane will be hoping that a fresh start and a renewed relationship with long time friend Mick Channon will enable him to improve on a disappointing tally of winners last year, when he had scored only nine successes by the time he called time. He was optimistic, saying, “I’ve ridden between 1700 and 1800 winners and I feel I’ve plenty more to give. I’ve known Mick for years, since he started training, and we’re good friends. He’s said he’ll give me rides.”
It will take a while for Culhane to gain rides regularly, but they will come, and the goal he has set for the season is one that's well within his capabilities.