Rugby fan Jason Hart compares first Derby ride to playing for The Lions

June 3, 2022

Rugby fan Jason Hart has compared riding in the Cazoo Derby for the first time tomorrow to playing for The Lions for the first time.

The 27 year old will line up for the world’s greatest Flat race aboard Royal Patronage and the North Yorkshire-based jockey admits he is “really excited”.

Hart enjoyed Group-race wins on Royal Patronage as a two-year-old in the Acomb Stakes at York and the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket. And last month the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing-owned colt, who is trained by Charlie and Mark Johnston, gave him a career-first ride in a Classic when he was eighth to Coroebus in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

The pair have since been a very creditable second behind this year’s Cazoo Derby favourite Desert Crown in York’s Group Two Dante Stakes and will team up again in what looks a fairly open Derby.

Scottish-born Hart, who partnered 100 winners in a year for the first time in 2021, said: “I was riding regularly for Mark (Johnston), but I was down at Epsom Downs last summer to ride one for my boss John Quinn when I picked up the ride on Royal Patronage too. We won that night (July 29th), by five lengths, and I’ve kept the ride since.

“He’s been a great horse for my career and he’s a gentleman to deal with. Rides in Classics are hard to come by, obviously, and he was my first ride in one in the Guineas. I’m very grateful to all of the Highclere team, and to the Johnstons, for letting me keep the ride in The Derby.”
Reflecting on last month’s Dante second, he added: “I rode him slightly differently at York. It looked as if there would be a bit of pace on and so I tucked him in a little bit. It wasn’t necessarily a plan, it was the way the race fell. I’ve had a good look at the opposition tomorrow, but I’ll wait and see what Mark thinks.

“It’s going to be hard to turn the form around with Desert Crown, as he was impressive at York, but we are more experienced than him and another thing we have in our favour is course form. He handled the track very well last year, and that’s a big factor at Epsom. He’s very well balanced, and he has a good attitude, so that will help.

“Not many get the chance to ride in a Derby and I think we’ve got a live shout, which makes it even more exciting. I gather I’ll go home with a commemorative cap whatever happens. It’s like playing for The Lions for the first time.”

An amazing article on an amazing horse who broke the heart of horse racing twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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