Can Welsh jockey David Probert end 2021 season on a high?

Welsh jockey David Probert has carved out a solid reputation during his flat racing career without providing a major victory to date. Probert has worked, alongside trainer Andrew Balding, with a number of elite charges, although he has never been trusted with the reins of the cream of the crop.

Probert will be in the saddle for Balding at the 2021 Ebor Festival with his charge Sandrine in the Lowther Stakes. They will be one of the leading contenders in the Ebor 2021 betting odds to claim the victory in the race given the form of both horse and jockey over the course of the season.

Sandrine has won all three of her races to date with Probert at the reins. She made her bow at Kempton Park in May and delivered a strong performance in her first run to win the EBF Fillies’ Restricted Novice Stakes by a length ahead of Silken Petals. The victory gave Balding confidence to send the bay filly to Royal Ascot, as well as make an appearance in the Albany Stakes among a generally talented field.

Sandrine was a rank outsider at odds of 16/1, but Balding ensured that his charge was up to the challenge. The Welshman pushed the horse down the final stretch and she had the pace when it mattered the most to beat out Hello You for the crown and a place in one of the most prestigious winners’ circles.

At Newmarket in July, the bay filly’s reputation preceded her as she was confirmed as the favourite for the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes. Despite the extra pressure, Probert was on the mark in the saddle and ushered his charge towards another comfortable win ahead of the field, finishing one-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Oisin Murphy on Desert Dreamer.

Murphy is among the preferred jockeys that Balding deploys with his top horses, including Tactical and Alcohol Free, who will compete at the Ebor Festival in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Due to Murphy’s excellence on the track, which has seen him win the British flat racing Champion Jockey award over the last two years, Probert’s attempts to break forward in his career have thus far been nullified.

A victory at the Ebor Festival in the Lowther Stakes, where Balding has not had a win before, may convince the trainer to open up his yard and other leading charges to Probert for the rest of the season. It may be a good opportunity to test the Welshman and his capabilities in the closing stages of the flat campaign where there will be top prizes on offer. Probert is yet to secure a Group One victory in his career, and at the age of 33, time is running out for him to make a decisive impact.

Strong performances at the Ebor Festival will certainly help Probert push his cause for those vital races towards the end of the season and perhaps enhance his credentials for a top ride in the 2000 Guineas, come next term. He came so close to achieving a massive moment in his career in 2018 at the 2000 Guineas when he rode Tip Two Win, only to finish in second behind Saxon Warrior, although the horse was a 50/1 outsider. With Sandrine in the Lowther Stakes, he has the chance to make a statement that could alter the course of his career.