Daniel Tudhope – Follow the North Star

I spoke last week of the burgeoning reputation of Patrick Joseph McDonald on the northern racing circuit. I also gave a brief mention for Daniel Tudhope, and I thought I’d expand on that a little with today’s piece.

Tudhope grew up in Irvine, Ayrshire, an area famed for its golf courses and views from the coast of the beautiful Isle of Arran. In previous interviews he has spoken of his disappointing academic performance at school, and of a surprising suggestion from a career’s officer that resulted in a move from Scotland to Yorkshire.

Despite there being no family connection with horses, Tudhope headed to the Northern Racing College at Doncaster. He saw it as a great opportunity, with a severe lack of job prospects back at home. Having never sat on a horse, it was quite a culture shock for the young 16-year-old, but he certainly grabbed the chance with both hands.

He became a successful apprentice with Declan Carroll in Yorkshire, though a broken collar-bone cost him the opportunity of becoming Champion Apprentice in 2005.

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He had a terrific campaign in 2006 when breaking through the half-century winners mark. But by 2010 the jock had struck on hard times, and without a stable position he could easily have slipped out of the industry. A conversation with Silvestre de Sousa led to him riding-out at David O’Meara’s yard, and the rest as they say is history.

The wonderful Blue Bajan gave both Tudhope and O’Meara their break-through top level victory, when winning the Group Two Henry II Stakes at Sandown. He had previously finished a close second in the Yorkshire Cup on the Knavesmire.

Penitent brought further Group success when arriving at the yard in 2012. Formerly with William Haggas, the switch to Middleham Park Racing took the six-year-olds form to a new level. O’Meara and Tudhope headed south to land the Group Two Bet365 Mile at Sandown, and later that year captured another Group Two, this time at Newmarket, when winning the Nayef Joel Stakes. Penitent then travelled to France and ran a cracker at the highest level, finishing runner-up to Gordon Lord Byron in the Prix de la Foret.

With Haydock’s Sprint Cup just a few days away, it was that race that took the partnership to the next level. O’Meara produced the classy three-year-old G Force to win the Group One in 2014, defeating an older, yet no less talented Gordon Lord Byron in the process. Tudhope timed his challenge to perfection, having held the youngster towards the rear of the field for most of the race.

Just a month later the pair were at it again, the horse on this occasion was Move In Time. Tudhope rode the six-year-old sprinter to a thrilling victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp, getting his nose in front just yards from the line.

Last year it was Mondialiste that brought International success, with a stunning victory in the Arlington Million. Under a power-packed ride from Tudhope, the six-year-old got the better of Deauville down the home-straight to win by a neck. It was a truly thrilling experience for jockey and trainer, enhancing the reputation of both on the international stage.

On a personal level, Tudhope is having another cracking season in the saddle. He currently lies third in the title race, with an 18% strike-rate and exceptional level-stake profit per rides. He’s the man to follow in the north, whether saddling up with boss O’Meara, or guesting for others, such as Tim Easterby on Monday, when partnering the 10/1 winner Hope Solo at Ripon. Indeed, his record on three-year-olds is eye-popping, with a 31% winning strike-rate from just 125 rides.

Like many jockeys, at 5ft 8ins Tudhope is a slave to scales, and time spent sweating in the sauna has become a daily ritual. But in recent years the effort has paid huge dividends. His partnership with David O’Meara goes from strength to strength. He’s rapidly become one of Yorkshire’s finest in the saddle. And long may it last.

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