Balder Succes deservedly made the weekend’s racing headlines, but little was written of the wonderful ride given by the ever impressive Wayne Hutchinson.
Another stylish performance, he pressed for home at the right time and bar getting in close at the last, he set his horse up perfectly at every obstacle.
With a book of terrific rides to look forward to over the coming period, especially at Cheltenham, he remains one of the most underrated of the leading stable jockeys.
Hutchinson arrived at Alan King’s stables in the summer of 2002. Second jockey to Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton, injuries and an unquestioned rise in his level of ability have ensured Wayne is now entrusted with the very best rides in the yard.
The son of a postman, he grew up in Swindon dreaming of playing football at Wembley rather than riding in a Grand National at Aintree. But his Mum kept a horse and at the age of three he sat on it for the first time.
By the age of 14 a career in racing started to become more likely, thanks to a spell working in a local racing yard run by Mark Usher. General yard work mixed with riding out ensured that he picked up a bit of pocket money as well as the vital racing bug. Soon he was aboard retired race horses on the gallops. Speaking of that time Hutchinson says: “It felt completely natural although the horses were vast compared to the pony I usually rode.”
In his last year of education Wayne applied to the British Racing School in the hope of getting on the nine-week foundation course. He was successful and this proved to be launch-pad for his career as a professional. Mornings spent riding and afternoons in the classroom gave him a thorough understanding of the demands of a jockey. He also set out on his flat-racing apprenticeship winning a race on only his eighth start.
However, as with many a young jockey, size and weight soon became an issue and the decision to switch to the jumps had to be made. A course was taken to obtain his conditional licence and for the next few years he progressed through various yards including Stan Mellor’s and Jeff King’s gaining valuable race-riding experience.
Since arriving at Barbury Castle in 2002, Hutchinson has developed into one of the leading jump jockeys in the UK. His first major success came in 2006 when riding Halcon Genelardais to victory in the Welsh National. While Choc Thornton was on-board the stable stars of Katchit and Voy Por Ustedes, Hutchinson had to wait till 2009 to strike gold at the Cheltenham Festival when winning the Grand Annual on Oh Crick.
That victory again proved just how good a jockey he had become. Always positioned brilliantly, he brought the horse with a beautifully timed run to challenge two out. In close at the last, Hutchinson didn’t panic and drove him out powerfully yet always perfectly balanced and stylishly.
Godsmejudge brought another national success the jockey’s way, this time the Scottish National in 2013. Jumping to the front five from home, he gradually stoked-up his willing partner before pulling clear from two out. It was another career highlight and yet another terrific riding display.
Of course injuries are an ever present part of a jockey’s life. Hutchinson only returned from his latest last September. An operation on his hip saw him out of the saddle for several months. “The injury went back to Stratford in the spring of 2014, and I suffered two tears in a capsule that runs around the outside of the hip joint.” The jockey explained. "However, the scan also showed excess bone on the top of the femur, which limited the range of movement I was getting, plus the surgeon discovered that I shredded the meniscus as well.”
Thoughts of future rides on Balder Succes will have maintained the jockey’s spirits. Two Grade 1 victories, the latest in the Ascot Chase will ensure that horse and jockey arrive at the Festival with an outstanding chance in the Ryanair Chase. But with horses of the calibre of Ordo Ab Chao and Ned Stark also heading to Prestbury Park as live contenders, Wayne has the prospect of a thrilling end to the season.
Such high-profile opportunities will inevitably raise the profile of this understated jockey and hopefully with it will come the recognition he undoubtedly deserves.