Billy Loughnane wants his 2023 champion apprentice title to be the springboard towards the next step in his career.
Loughnane has quite simply been a revelation. On New Year’s Day, he had ridden just six winners, yet he has now had over 100 following a startling season which is surely going to be the prelude to a successful career.
Almost 20 winners clear of last year’s champion Benoit De La Sayette in the title race, the expected slow down after losing his claim failed to materialise and the winners just kept on flowing.
He will be at Ascot on Saturday to pick up his award, where he expects to be in action in the final race of the meeting.
“I’m hoping to have a ride in the Balmoral, so I’ll be there on Saturday,” said Loughnane
“It’s been a crazy season, really. We’ve had a good year and I’ve had a lot of people supporting me, it’s been great.”
It is fair to say Loughnane did have a head start on most apprentices – given his father, Mark, is a trainer.
But once he spread his wings, the 17-year-old flourished.
“Dad was very good to me at the start and obviously supported me a lot early in my career but I’ve also had a lot of support from a lot of other trainers,” he said.
“The main thing is they have kept using me even after I lost my claim, so it’s been great and I must thank everyone for the support.
“It’s always a worry for any jockey once you lose your claim but thankfully most of the trainers have stood by me and I’m very grateful.”
With 100 winners under his belt already and the victories continuing to flow without the help of a claim, what does 2024 hold?
“I think for the immediate future, I just want to ride as many winners as I can. My goal for next year is to ride 100 winners in the year. It will be very hard, obviously, without having a claim, but if I can manage that it will be great,” said Loughnane.
“On top of that, if I could ride a Group or even a Listed winner along the way that would top it off.
“All jockeys are the same, hopefully I can keep the numbers going but then you’ve got to look at raising the quality of the horses you ride. Hopefully, the more winners I ride, the more the quality will go up.
“I go into George Boughey’s to ride out two or three days a week and he’s been very good to me. He’s supported me since I was a 5lb and then a 3lb claimer. He’s got a yard with some nice horses and hopefully he’ll have a few to ride for me over the next few years.
“There’s a lot of people in the weighing room who have helped me along the way, just to help me in anything, really. The key thing when I first started was I couldn’t drive so I relied on a lot of them to give me lifts, but there were different aspects as well, they’ve helped me a lot.
“There are too many in there to single one out that has helped me, I feel comfortable talking to any of them and having a chat.”
Given how success has come so readily for one so young, he could be forgiven for getting ahead of himself but there is a constant in the background that will not allow that.
Loughnane said: “My dad has made sure that I stay grounded and don’t get too big for my boots!”