600 not out would be a fine score in any cricket match. It’s one Phillip Makin has racked up in racing, and if he wanted to be despondent, he could argue he’d reached 5,254 not out. Except that in his case, it’s not in rather than not out.
Makin has ridden in 5,254 races, but not a single Classic. He’s won 599 races in Britain, and the one winner he’s had in Ireland makes up the 600. That’s due to change on Saturday, when, eleven years after he started riding, he gets a chance in the St Leger.
Makin will be riding Guarantee for William Haggas, not a jockey/trainer combination that comes up very often. Makin just happened to be in the right place (Ripon) at the right time (21 July). After finishing runner up when unfancied at Windsor and then winning a Newbury maiden, Making got the chance to ride Guarantee in the Ripon Bell-Ringers Handicap.
He recalled the raced, saying, “Guarantee was a big baby. Ripon’s a tricky track and he didn’t like it. He won anyway and he felt a proper horse, but he was very green and if you told me then I’d just got off the horse I’d have my first Classic ride on, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Making kept the ride for the wide-open spaces of York for the 14 furlongs of the Melrose Handicap, and seemed surprised to do so. He won the race going away from his 15 rivals, and only then did the Leger come into William Haggas’ mind. Makin said, “I was chuffed to get back on him at York. He’s improved a great deal there and from what I’ve heard he’s improved again. It’s a real thrill to have kept the ride. He’s still very inexperienced – he’s only had four runs, and the step from a handicap into a Group 1 is a big ask – but the one thing he will do is stay very well.”
Saturday will prove a big day for Makin, and he won’t expect to win the race, he’ll certainly give it his best. That’s the Guarantee.