A double at Ripon yesterday took Graham Lee to 50 winners for the season and provided further confirmation that he has made an immediate success of his switch from National Hunt jockey to flat racing.
Victories on Girl At the Sands, trained by James given, and Voodoo Prince for Ed Dunlop, took Lee into the top 20 in the riders’ table. One of the more remarkable aspects of his first season is that his lightest weight of 8st 8 lbs is heavier than all those above him in the table with the exception of Daniel Tudhope, whose lowest is a pound more than Lee, and Richard Hughes, who matches him on the scales.
Lee continues to find himself surprised at how well things have gone this year. He said, “I’m just thankful to everybody over how well it’s gone. I’m really surprised and I keep having to pinch myself.”
Lee had his first ride on the flat in April, and only brought home his first winner during May. Of the victory on Voodoo Queen he said, “He’s done that well. The pace was generous and even, and he slotted in nicely and picked up well. That’s now 50 for the season so it’s happy days.”
Happy days indeed, after an injury sustained at Southwell in February led him to give up jump racing earlier this year. Although recovering from the injury itself was not a problem, Lee faced an unusual weight battle for a jockey – he wasn’t heavy enough for riding over the sticks. In March, when he announced his decision to swap codes he told the BBC, “"I've always had to work very hard keeping weight on me with training and it's just fallen off me since the fall at Southwell. I can't really face the gym to get a stone back on me, so I'm going to go Flat racing."
He can’t regret that decision in any way.