What do you recall of your first involvement with horses, helping with 30 ponies giving rides to holidaymakers on Weston-super-Mare beach?
That was following a few years as a kid having pony lessons, in exchange for looking after them in the morning. Then I moved on to the beach. I would be on a horse for six to eight hours a day in the holidays and weekends, which gave me a feel for riding when I was 14 or 15. They were all very quiet horses and I didn’t start falling off until I got on racehorses.
Your early journey took you through the British Racing School and on to Roger Charlton’s stable. Were they good learning curves?
I wasn’t bred into racing. My mum had heard about the Racing School, which was and is a great place to find out what racing is all about. They look after you and find you a job at the end. Being on ponies and messing about on the beach is a completely different ball game to riding out in a racing yard on racehorses and looking after them.
There was a lot to learn and for the first six months at Roger’s I was dreadful. Falling off or being run away with every other day. Mr Charlton had a lot of patience; I started in the November and the following spring he was letting me ride work, which was great.
As I gained more experience he put me on horses like Patavellian [winner of the Stewards’ Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye], which was a massive boost.
You are now riding 100 winners a year as stable jockey to Tom Dascombe. Can you explain your boss’s influence in the development of your career?
I’ve been riding for Tom almost 11 years. More than anything, Tom being confident in me gave me confidence. Backing me early on in my career when I was still claiming was a big help; he gave me the belief in myself to go out and ride in races without worrying if I was doing the right thing.
He put me up on everything when he was training 30 horses and now it’s more like 100-plus. We have built a trust in each other. I know how he wants his horses ridden, but if things don’t go to plan I can do what I want with Tom knowing I’ll be doing my best whatever the situation. He gives me guidelines with different horses rather than tying me down with strict instructions.
When I go up to Cheshire from my home near Lambourn to ride out I stay with Tom and we might go out for dinner. Each Chester or Haydock meeting I might be staying there for the week.
Brown Panther would run through a wall for you. A horse could have the talent of Frankel but if he doesn’t try he’ll never show it when it matters
Your success on Michael Owen’s Brown Panther, trained by Dascombe, has been well documented. You won the Irish St Leger and Dubai Gold Cup on him. What made Brown Panther so special?
The fact that he tried every time he went out on to the track. You knew he was always going to do his absolute best. He would run through a wall for you. A horse could have the talent of Frankel, but if he doesn’t try he’ll never show it when it matters.
Brown Panther was very consistent in Group races and for a stayer he had a lot of speed and he used that speed to put his races to bed at the crucial moment.
That turn of foot he possessed in those top long-distance races made all the difference.
His death at the Curragh must have been hard to accept, for you, the owner and the stable. How did you manage to move on after such a tragic event?
It was very hard because I became very attached to Panther. I will always owe him a lot and I did find it very difficult when he wasn’t there. A lot of the lads in the yard were very upset as well because he was there such a long time and they had become very close to him.
He was with us for five years, a bit of a character and a nice horse to have around the place, even without his fantastic ability. With Michael breeding him it had a big effect on him as well as his parents, who were also involved, it was a big blow to all of us.
Unfortunately, it does happen in racing and you have to crack on, do the best you can and try to find another Brown Panther.
You returned from serious injury in a fall at Wolverhampton to partner Brown Panther in Dubai, 2015. Did you ever think two punctured lungs, an elbow broken in five places, together with plates in your left wrist, arm, elbow and right collarbone would end your career?
No, I never felt it would end my career, though the elbow was the major problem because they had to put in a lot of metal work to secure it. I suppose if the elbow had been irreparable it might have been a different story, but the surgeons were great. My immediate worry was that I wouldn’t be able to ride Black Panther in Dubai because of the healing process.
The surgeon wanted to take the metalwork out before I returned to racing but that couldn’t be done in time for Dubai. However, he agreed to leave the metalwork in and let me get back to riding with it and then take it out a year later. The elbow held up very well and it was no problem.
Everyone says I’m not an up and down person, just pretty level and, living round the corner from Oaksey House, I managed to keep my head up. I was in Oaksey House every day, rehabbing and working out in the gym. The hardest part was the first week in hospital, realising that my arm might never be the same. Fortunately, it was fine.
Ashleigh, my wife, stayed in hospital with me because I couldn’t eat anything. My mother-in-law was looking after our eldest, Sebastian, who was quite badly affected because his mum and dad had suddenly disappeared for a couple of weeks.
You lost a lot of weight as a result of that accident. How is your weight nowadays and what is your fitness regime?
I’ve made life difficult for myself the last couple of years. I started on a healthy regime and became quite light and, because I enjoy weight lifting I thought I’d bulk up, build up the muscle and lose the fat.
A year ago I ended up weighing 9st 3lb and was worried about it. I calmed down on the weights over the winter and I’m now between 8st 9lb and 8st 11lb. I have built a gym inside our garage which I use, while in the summer I’ll go for a run round the different racecourses.
Chester is very important to the yard and its owners. The way Tom’s horses are ridden works well round the Chester bends. They are positive and quick from the stalls, which is the difference and certainly makes my life a lot easier
You have appeared on ITV’s Opening Show and also been sponsored by Haydock Park as a guest columnist in the Liverpool Echo. How did you enjoy the experience in front of the cameras?
I was very, very nervous that day because I have never been one for the cameras. Also, I have a dreadful memory so I was quite worried. But to be fair I did quite enjoy the experience and the ITV boys looked after me very well. I’d definitely do it again but I’d need to work on it.
I had a brilliant ghost writer for the Liverpool Echo but don’t do that any more. I get on very well with Matt Chapman on ITV and at At The Races. Although Matt can be bolshie, he’s good fun, people open up to him when he asks tricky questions and I think he’s good at his job.
Would you be in favour of the occasional camera in the jockeys’ room so the racing public at home could join in the weighing-room craic?
We have had it when Channel 4 used to come in and for the most part the jocks didn’t mind, but then maybe it became a little bit too personal. Racing has become a lot more open to the public – showing the stewards’ inquiries was a big step forward. I wouldn’t mind a camera occasionally watching us in the jockeys’ room.
You are well known for some amazing tattoos on your body. Why tattoos, and when did you have your first one?
My three elder siblings have them and I remember saying, ‘As soon as I’m 18 I’m going to have a tattoo as well.’ It can be a bit of an addiction and I had an awful lot done in a short time.
Now I’ve not had any for five years. The lads used to take the mickey out of me at first when I used to strip off in the weighing room, but now I’ve been around a bit everyone knows me and my tattoos.
Racing is more a way of life than a job. How do you switch off and what would be the ideal way to spend a day off?
I spend time with the kids, Sebastian, 5, and William, 2. Before we had the children we lived in Cheshire and I used to take my motor bike to Oulton Park or even Donnington Park. Now that side of my life has taken a back seat in favour of the family, which is growing up fast.
Chester and Haydock are two courses local to Dascombe’s Cheshire stables where you excel. How do these two different tracks bring out the best in you?
Chester is very important to the yard and its owners. The way Tom’s horses are ridden works well round the Chester bends. They are positive and quick from the stalls, which is the difference and certainly makes my life a lot easier. It can be tricky on certain horses; you need one that’s well balanced and handles the turns.
Tom sends a lot of nice horses to Haydock as well and there is a knack to riding the round course at Haydock.
I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of rides and chances to do different things round there and not always been tied down to orders. Last year paid off with a lot of winners there.
I have never been one for target-setting, just take it as it comes. After all, things can change so quickly in racing
Your wife Ashleigh is a pastry chef and bakes for friends, families and parties while you are permanently galloping round the country. So how do you both cope with two young children at home?
Ashleigh looks after the children all the time and I help out when I’m at home. It is getting easier now that William is that bit older and sleeping through. The early years were demanding trying to juggle our different jobs.
To be honest, the last two years have been my best two years with 113 and 100 winners, so managing the kids couldn’t have been too much of a problem!
What does the future hold for Richard Kingscote – what would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I have never been one for target-setting, just take it as it comes. After all, things can change so quickly in racing. I have been fortunate to ride 100 winners these last two years and I’d like to keep that up with as many Group winners as possible.
My career has really started to go the right way, thanks to Tom. I also have support from Ralph Beckett, Sir Michael Stoute and Mark Johnston. The goal is always to ride as many good horses as possible.