THE news that Galashiels rider Ryan Mania has done an U-turn and successfully reapplied for his jump jockey’s licence will be welcome news for racing enthusiasts both sides of the border, writes John Budden.
A recruit from the local point to point scene, Mania began to emerge as a potent force in the saddle when he started to ride regularly for Peter Monteith.
A fractured femur disrupted his progress, but at the beginning of last season Mania had been widely recognised as one of the north’s most accomplished conditionals and he was attracting support from a growing number of trainers, and in particular was booting home plenty of winners for Cumbria’s Dianne Sayer.
Last winter’s weather-hit jumps season proved a difficult time for aspiring riders and a disenchanted Mania opted to relinquish his jockeys’ licence.
The lure of racing’s thrills and the camaraderie of the weighing room have worked the oracle, however, and Mania was back in action for Selkirk’s Rayson Nixon at Catterick last week, being booked for Just Maddie and Political Prospect.
His return is widely welcomed and, given an injury-free run, Mania will soon be back among the winners.
Elsewhere, Mania’s close contemporary Campbell Gillies is notching up the winners, three of them inside the past 20 days, for Hawick trainer Willie Amos who has charge of the family hero Lie Forrit, all the better for his hard-fought reappearance victory at Kelso.
Eurohunter, carrying the familiar colours of Borders owner John Stephenson, initiated the Amos double at Kelso while the treble was completed by the well backed Bob’s Dream at Sedgefield last Tuesday.
Bob’s Dream had earlier finished runner up in two hurdles races at Uttoxeter. He was regaining the winning touch over the minor obstacles at the Co Durham course, but has always been regarded as a more superior chaser and back over fences during the Christmas holiday period, he will be hard to keep out of the winner’s circle.
Incidentally, on the subject of young riders to note on the Scottish jumps scene, mention must be made of the promise being shown by Jedburgh’s Grant Cockburn, arguably the pick of the talented bunch of conditional jockeys riding out for Lucinda Russell.
Grant, a former junior champion on the Borders point to point circuit, partnered his first ever winner on the flat at Musselburgh in the summer of 2010.
Only 16 at the time, he was successful on George Foster’s Ballade De La Mer in one of the Bollinger Amateur Riders Qualifiers and he was back in the same winner’s enclosure at the recent meeting, having ridden a most positive race from the front to win the opening chase on Geoff Brown’s Hurricane Jack.