Jack Gilligan flying high in Kentucky

15th Jan 2015 | News

Young jockey Jack Gilligan has enjoyed not just a change of scene but a real purple patch in his riding career since moving to America last year.

Jack, now 18, grew up in Newmarket and was a pupil at the British Racing School as well as riding out for his father Patrick Gilligan. Since taking out his apprentice licence in 2013, Jack rode four winners in Britain and has been on a real roll since arriving in Kentucky last summer.

His first three winners came at Belterra Park, which was formerly known as River Downs and was where legendary jockey Steve Cauthen started his career. Once the action switched to Turfway Park, Jack notched a double on the opening day of the meeting and then rode a double on each of the following three weeks of action at the track. The meeting ended with Jack as leading apprentice and fifth overall on the jockeys’ table at Turfway.

Jack’s dad Patrick says: “We wanted Jack to ride at Keeneland and Churchill Downs so he could compete against, and hopefully learn from, the best riders around, which I think he did. They were all very helpful towards him. He didn’t have any winners at those meets, but plenty of places at big odds.”

Turfway Park’s new season, which runs for three months, started on 1 January and Jack’s name is already on the scoresheet with two winners. In four months in his new home, the young rider, who moved to the States with his dad and mother Vicky, has now ridden a total of 15 winners and is kept very busy riding track work in the mornings for a number of different trainers at Keeneland.

Jack is pictured here with American racing icon Steve Cauthen, who spent a number of successful years in Newmarket as stable jockey to Henry Cecil, riding such good horses as Derby winners Slip Anchor and Reference Point, and Fillies’ Triple Crown winner Oh So Sharp.

Steve Cauthen and Jack Gilligan