Sports has always been an intertwined aspect of human civilization, such as equestrian, discus, javelin, jumping, boxing and wrestling. The Olympic games is the earliest event of collective sports in history and dates back to 760 BC. One very popular sport that was loved by fans was chariot racing, and many think that is the origin of men riding horses for competition. However, horse racing is much older than this and can be traced back over 6,000 years to Asia.
It wasn’t until 1868, when horse racing became organized in America and rose even higher in popularity. One thing that people love more than horse racing, is betting on the races, and this is evident from the fact that the global horse race betting market was worth $122.9 billion in 2017 and is expected to continue growing. Many well-known horse jockeys are usually known to come from Ireland, the UK or America, but many have also come from Wales, so here are a few.
Hywel Davies is a retired Welsh professional National Hunt jockey, and was born in Cardigan, in 1957. He started his career as a retained jockey for Tim Foster and did this for 8 years, before becoming a freelance jockey. He rode for many trainers, most notably Nicky Henderson and Josh Gifford, and finally made his first professional win at Folkestone.
His career lasted 16 years and accumulated 761 wins in the UK, but over 800 globally. His most major wins include events such as the Grand National in 1985, Hennessy Gold Cup in 1989, Whitbread Gold Cup in 1992, Peterborough Chase in 1986, Whitbread Gold Label Cup in 1986 and Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1990.
Evan Williams was considered to be one of the most successful National Hunt Jockeys of his era, ranking in the top 50 National Hunt jockeys of all time, and was born in Cowbridge, Glamorgan, in 1912. He had won many races, but the one that made him famous was riding Royal Mail in the in the 1937 Grand National at Aintree, which was an 856-yard, four-mile, 30-fence marathon.
He is also famous for riding Golden Miller, who was past his prime and a winner of 29 races, in the 1937 Cheltenham Gold Cup and winning. Evan Williams would later win the Cheltenham Gold Cup again in 1940, while riding a horse named Roman Hackle.
David Paul Harrison is a former flat racing jockey, and was born in St Asaph, North Wales, in 1972. He had a relatively short career in racing, which unfortunately ended after damaging his spinal cord when falling from his racehorse in a race at Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong in 2001, but was very accomplished.
Throughout his 11-year career, he won many prominent races such as Irish St Leger, Hong Kong Derby, Derby Italiano, Swiss Derby, Ulster Derby and Royal Hunt Cup to name a few. His most notable achievement was becoming the British flat racing Champion Apprentice jockey in 1992, with 56 winners. He is now an agent for other jockeys in Andalucia.
Geoff Lewis is a retired Welsh jockey, and was born in Talgarth, Breconshire, in 1935. Unlike many jockeys, he started his career very early in life as an apprentice with trainer Ron Smyth, working previously as a hotel page boy.
He was thought of as Europe’s leading jockey between 1953 and 1979, and won many races, including the Coronation Cup, Epsom Oaks which he won twice, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, International Stakes, 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas. His most notable win was winning The Derby in 1971, while riding Mill Reef. He officially retired in 1999, after training almost 500 winners.
John Randolph Anthony, or otherwise known as Jack Anthony, was born in Llandyfaelog, Carmarthenshire, in 1890. He came from a family of jockeys; his brother Ivor was a successful jockey, and other brother Owen a National Hunt Trainer.
Jack Anthony won three victories in the Grand National steeplechase, and rode as an amateur until 1921, becoming a champion jockey in 1914. He became a champion jockey again in 1928, and went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1929 and 1930, and then became a trainer. He was included in the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.