After all, he was a successful jockey. He had ridden a Grand National winner in Amberleigh House (in 2004) He had been leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival (in 2005). He regularly rode over 50 winners a season. What was there left to prove?
Lee was unusual in jump jockeys, in that he had to work hard to keep his weight up. The tipping point behind the change for change at the relatively advanced age of 36 was a fall at Southwell in February, which resulted in a dislocated hip and time on the sidelines. Lee lost a stone in weight during his rehabilitation, which took him down to 8st 12lbs. Rather than try to recover that, he decided it would be better and easier to drop another few pounds and switch codes.
Now, as he approaches the end of his first season, Lee has many good reasons to look back on it with satisfaction. He’s booted home 100 winners, and that they have come for 35 different trainers shoes how well he is thought of. He’s been nominated for the top jockey awards at the Horserace Writers’ and Photographers’ Awards earlier this week, alongside Tony McCoy, Richard Hughes and William Buick. He’s ridden a Group 1 winner at Glorious Goodwood, partnering Hawkeyethenoo to success in the stewards’ Cup. As he drove home Prophets Pride, his 100th winner of the season for Jeremy Noseda at Wolverhampton, Lee was looking forward to a break over Christmas before returning refreshed next year.
He said, “The season has been brilliant, absolutely unreal. I could never have thought in a million years that it could go so well.”