The fall guy

The fall guy
Lewis Ferguson in mid air. Photo by Matthew WEBB

Lewis Ferguson in mid air. Photo by Matthew WEBB

There are people out there who think they could be a jockey. Often they are fellow punters. They think they could ride a horse better than those doing the job. I don’t think that. Indeed I know I couldn’t.

In recent years we’ve seen jockeys paralysed as a result of a fall. Jockeys fighting for their lives. Some, in other parts of the world, actually dying because of a fall. And yet I regularly read punters bemoaning the ride given to a horse they’re backing. They point the finger at a jockey, accusing him or her of being incompetent.

In any line of work, some employees will be better at their job than others. Racing is no different.

Look at the recent falls suffered by jockeys. Jamie Moore misses the Grand National because of a fall. As does Jason Maguire.

Earlier this week we witnessed the most remarkable of falls. That of a jockey you may not have heard of. Lewis Ferguson is famous now. He’ll not be concerned about that. Only that he is in one piece which, when you see the video of his acrobatic tumble at Wincanton, is nothing short of a miracle.

Ferguson told the Racing Post: “It is bit different to see yourself all over the newspapers, but I don’t suppose the publicity can do me any harm. My Twitter and Facebook accounts have been going mad with everybody wishing me well and hoping that I’m okay.”

So how does the 18 year old jockey explain what went wrong on his very first ride over fences. He was aboard the 4/9 favourite, Merrion Square.

Ferguson says: “He was hanging left coming to the last fence as if he was going to run out. He changed his legs and became unbalanced, then ducked right and I came out of the side door. I hit the fence chest-on and then somersaulted, but I stood up straight afterwards and I was fine and walked back to the weighing room.”

I have watched the fall several times and it’s different. Possibly the strangest fall I’ve ever seen. Ferguson flies through the air. It was a spectatcular way to begin your career as a jump jockey!

Merrion Square is trained by several times champion trainer Paul Nicholls. I wonder if he’ll be hiring young Lewis again.

Ferguson said:  “I will just have to wait and see and I might get another ride off Paul if I’m lucky.”

I hope so. The lad deserves a second chance in the saddle.


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