TWENTY-six years after Sir Anthony McCoy OBE claimed the Conditional Riders’ Championship in his first season in Britain prior to registering 20 titles during his career in the saddle, it was another Ulsterman – Downpatrick rider, Danny McMenamin, who was crowned champion at Sandown last weekend at the conclusion of the 2020/21 British Jumps Season.
A ‘conditional jockey’ is an apprentice National Hunt racing jockey in Great Britain or Ireland, under the age of 26, who has not won more than 75 races.
The 20-year-old local lad excelled during the season, recording 46 winners with a now career total of 91 winners. Included in his seasonal total was the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase and Aintree on ‘Nutswell’, while partnering ‘Tommy’s Oscar’ to win four races during the term.
McMenamin said: “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet – it has been a brilliant season. Hopefully tomorrow it will sink in, I’ll be able to take it all in and be able to enjoy the experience. Every lad starting out dreams about being champion conditional, but for me, I was more trying to get the experience and, if it happened it happened, and luckily for me it has.”
The Champion Conditional jockey is based at the famous Greystoke Stables of trainer Nicky Richards, having joined the Cumbria trainer when moving to Britain in 2017.
McMenamin added: “Nicky (Richards) is a top boss, he has been amazing to me and helped me a lot – not just about racing, but about life. He has always had advice when I’ve asked and I’m glad I came to him.”
The new Champion Conditional rider is a product of the Northern pony racing circuit and had never ridden on the course proper prior to his move to Britain, but spent time at the stables of Downpatrick trainer, Brian Hamilton – a former champion rider in point to points.