All-weather meetings in the depths of winter rarely live long in the memory – but the one staged at Wolverhampton on January 5, 2021 will always be special for Georgia King after Gavi Di Gavi became her first winner.
The daughter of Gavi Di Gavi’s trainer Alan King, Georgia will forever treasure her breakthrough success in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Handicap.
Coronavirus restrictions meant there was no crowd to welcome the 18-year-old back in, of course, but she was all smiles then and still is as she relives the four-length victory on the Camacho gelding.
“I knew I had a chance if it all went to plan, but my nerves were increased because it was against the professionals like Tom Marquand and Ben Curtis,” she said.
“I managed to get in a nice position – because I didn’t want to get wide early on. Down the back straight I got shuffled back, but it did me a favour because it gave me room on the rail.
“When they all spread out on the turn I kept on the inside. I couldn’t really believe that I won – and he ended up doing it really easily. I was just delighted.”
Working with horses was always likely for King, but making it as a jockey was not originally on her agenda.
“I was really into eventing and I represented Britain in the 2018 (FEI) European Pony Championships in Yorkshire when I was 16,” she added.
“I was lucky to get on the British team in my last year. The dressage and cross country went OK, but the showjumping didn’t end up a personal success. I felt a bit deflated after that, because I had worked so hard to get there.”
There is normally a decisive moment which most jockeys can point to in helping them choose a career in the saddle, and King is no different.
“A few weeks after the pony championships I rode Sula Island in a charity race at Epsom,” she said.
“Everyone else had been preparing for it for months, and I found out a week or two before I would be on Sula Island in it – plus I hadn’t been riding out that long.
“Although we jumped off pretty far back, I ended up winning pretty easily because she made up ground well and it ended up being a great result.
“It was some feeling – even though I struggled to carry the saddle because it had so much lead in! But it made me want to do it again.”
Having the backing of a trainer like her dad comes with its advantages, but playing an equally important role has been the support from mum Rachel.
King said: “Mum always said she was gutted that I gave up eventing and handed me over to dad – but to be fair, she has taken me to every race I’ve been to.
“She doesn’t go racing loads, but she loves coming into the parade ring with me and being really supportive. She has definitely got into it.
“Although mum was there to celebrate my first winner, she didn’t watch most of it!”
King can also call on the help of retired Classic-winning rider George Baker, who has been her jockey coach since she was granted her apprentice licence in November.
She said: “I’m pleased to have George as my jockey coach – he was the one I really wanted.
“He spoke to me the night before the ride on Gavi, running me through the race and telling me what I needed to do – which as a young rider was a massive boost.
“He knows everything, and if I ever need anything he is always there to ask things.”
With a winner already on the board, King is of course hungry for more but will not rush her development as a jockey.
“Over the next few months, I just want to try and get as much experience as I can and try to ride a few different horses, then when the spring comes to get on the grass and give a few a spin,” she said.
“There are quite a few good girls coming through – which is great to see, and it helps give you more confidence -while Hollie Doyle has done the sport the world of good.
“Dad is happy for me just riding for him at the moment, and then when I get more experience get a few outside rides. I know you have got to dream big, but I think I’m better off keeping my head down and working my way up.”