Before last week’s Galway Festival we highlighted 16 year old Connor King as a young jockey to look out for. In the event, he didn’t sparkle at Galway, but made amends in spectacular fashion yesterday at Cork, riding a 14,725-1 four timer.
In his fledgling riding career, he’s already had mounts for more than 70 trainers, and last night’s efforts rewarded three of them for their confidence in him. He kicked things off in a six-furlong handicap, where his five-pound claim helped as he won by three parts of a length on 16/1 shot Kiss The Stars from hot favourite Harpist. Winning trainer Tom McCourt said afterwards, “She’s surprised us since the day she was third at Naas as she never shows us that speed at home. I didn’t think she’d be sharp enough for her first handicap. I was worried that she wouldn’t be experienced enough.” Note, he didn’t express any worried about the experience of the jockey.
Next up came an apprentice handicap, in which he rode Almadaa for David Marnane. The market expected a win, making them 11/4 favourite. They obliged, despite starting from an unfavourable wide draw. King tracked across to settle in behind the leaders, his ride earning high praise from the Racing Post summariser, who commented, “It was a perfectly judged ride on a really admirable sprinter who thrives on racing.”
King could not use him claim in the night’s feature race, the Listed Platinum Stakes. It proved a landmark for him as he swooped late on Jessica Harrington’s Royal Blue Star at 20/1. King explained afterwards as he described how the race went. He said, “She just jumped a bit slow so I gave her a chance. She flew home. I thought at the two-furlong pole I might be placed but then all of a sudden she just took off. She’s very good. That’s my first treble and it feels great. You know you’re doing something right when Jessica books you even thought you can’t claim.”
King’s fourth winner came via another Tom McCourt horse, where Horsewithnoname just held on at 10/1 to win the mile and a half handicap. It marked the end of a day that the young jockey won’t ever forget. The satisfaction of a first treble was trumped by the fourth winning ride just ninety minutes later. King will also take home great pride in the remarks of one respected pressroom member who said, “We are looking at a young Murtagh or Kinane in front of our very eyes.” High praise indeed.