How do you come back from two punctured lungs, an elbow broken in five places and breaks to your collarbone, forearm and wrist? Better than ever, if your name is Richard Kingscote.
He may not quite have the ammunition to launch a title bid but a top-five berth is certainly within reach if he continues in his current form
The jockey sustained his serious injuries when brought down at Wolverhampton in November 2014, riding for boss Tom Dascombe. Just over four months later and he was enjoying Group 2 glory on the back of yard favourite Brown Panther in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.
Sadly, Brown Panther is no longer strutting his stuff on the racecourse but his regular rider has gone from strength to strength. The previous two seasons have seen the 31-year-old record centuries for the first time in his career with the promise of much more to come in 2018. It’s been some response to the doubters who wondered whether Kingscote would ever be able to get back to the level he was at before his horror fall.
The Flat jockeys’ championship now runs for a truncated season between Newmarket’s Guineas meeting and British Champions Day at Ascot and while Kingscote may not quite have the ammunition to launch a title bid – he has been supported by some of the bigger stables such as Sir Michael Stoute and Ralph Beckett – a top-five berth is certainly within reach if he continues in his current form.
Another potential drawback to a title challenge could be Kingscote’s weight, around 8st 9lb – current champion Silvestre de Sousa can ride as low as 8st 2lb. Yet Danny Tudhope is in a similar position and he is targeting the top tier this year. Kingscote has the talent and backing to go far – with a bit of luck along the way, the rider could well hit new heights this year.
Archie Watson has wasted little time in showcasing his talent as a trainer. Since receiving his licence and sending out his first winner in October 2016, he has made giant strides, sending out 56 winners in 2017, his first full season, and he has already banked half that number in 2018.
Watson took the decision to strike out on his own at Saxon Gate Stables in Lambourn, having previously spent time with Alec Laird in South Africa and William Haggas in Newmarket. He took plenty from both men yet is very much his own man when it comes to his operation and, for a 29-year-old, employs something of an old-fashioned approach to training racehorses.
“I’m probably slightly Luddite in that I don’t like using heart monitors, GPS trackers, that sort of thing,” Watson tells Julian Muscat. “I prefer to train by eye and my feel for a horse, and also what my riders tell me.
“I’ve got a great team of riders. They can tell me a lot more about a horse than a device telling you your horse has just gone 39.6mph in its gallop, and that its heart rate went above 140.
“I developed my instinct to train from Alec. I’d set up a work morning when he came down to visit, and he’d ask the rider to lift up his horse’s sheet before deciding the horse didn’t need to work that morning, even though he’d wanted to work it. He is very natural and intuitive that way.”
Interestingly, for a man who spent some of his formative years at Flat racing’s HQ, Watson decided it wasn’t the right place from where to launch his own career.
“I’m not knocking Newmarket, but I find it is getting a bit overcrowded in terms of human, horse and car traffic,” he explains. “There are public gallops here but it is almost like having your own. You don’t really run into other people and the atmosphere is nice and quiet. It seems to suit horses coming out of big yards.”