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The Big Interview with jockey Duran Fentiman
Duran Fentiman wants to make more headlines as the Malton jockey reveals to STEVE CARROLL.
HOW would you describe Duran Fentiman as a jockey? A straw poll sent out to a select band of racing experts brought back a series of positive replies.
Words like “industrious”, “useful” and “talented” backed up positive adjectives dotted in the brief newspaper snippets which have covered the rider’s eight-year career in the saddle.
By his own admission, the 24-year-old has yet to make any “big headlines”.
But the Malton rider wants that to change. It’s time to step out of the shadows.
Horses like Mirrored can help him do it. Not for the stature of the race – it was only a £5,000 mile and a quarter handicap at Doncaster – but for the nature of the win.
Mirrored is best described as a nervy sort.
The five-year-old reportedly trains on his own at Tim Easterby’s Habton Grange stables. He’d have been fitted with earplugs to drown out the Town Moor crowd last Saturday had the trainer remembered to bring them to the track.
Dropped in from an outside draw, Fentiman settled the twitchy gelding at the back of the field and then, with just over a furlong left to travel, unleashed him.
It was like the others had stopped as the pair burst through to win by two and a quarter lengths.
Eye-catching from the horse, who was immediately targeted for the Zetland Gold Cup and the John Smith’s Cup at York, even more so from his pilot.
“We’ve been trying to settle him down and get his head right,” Fentiman said. “Even at Doncaster, he was still keen – but he was manageable. We could deliver him late for a nice run and there was no problem then.
“He knows enough about racing to know what he wants to do and what he doesn’t. The only thing he has wanted to do recently was to go quickly for not very long.
“He has got bags of ability but horses like him, sometimes, they lose their way. He didn’t want to win but you just have to get into their minds and get them right.”
Fentiman has been with Easterby since he was an apprentice. A 20 winner a season man, with a best of 30 in 2007, the rider’s figures are all the better when you consider he is feeding largely on scraps.
At Easterby’s, he is second rider to David Allan. At Tim Walford’s yard in Sheriff Hutton, he is behind Graham Gibbons. When we meet, he is riding out at an open morning for Noel Wilson, who trains at Breckenbrough, near Thirsk.
There is no rivalry in the yards. Fentiman accepts his situation with grace. He knows the best way to change his fortune is to get his head down and graft.
“David’s first choice but it’s a team effort up there,” he said of Easterby’s Great Habton yard. “We like to think we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. We want to do well. As long as the horses are running well – whether me or Dave is on it – most of the time it is not a problem.
“I come into Noel’s when I can and I also go into Tim Walford’s. I have been riding for Noel for a few years now and we have struck up a partnership.
“At the moment, I am sort of a 20 winner a year fella but my ambition is to get 40 and 50 winners a year,” he added. “I have been steady away and I learned a lot during my apprenticeship.
“I learned more than a few apprentices in my time. I rode quite a few bad horses, so I know how to ride a bad one and that helps with the good ones.
“I am always at the races and I always put my winners in. I am always grafting and, hopefully, one day someone will notice that and I can be a 40-50 winner a year jockey then.”
Belief will not be a factor if his wishes don’t come true.
“There’s no reason why I can’t,” Fentiman declared. “For the last couple of years, I didn’t have a claim and it takes a year or two to establish yourself.
“Some jockeys, after their apprenticeship, will fall off the map a bit.
“I have kept going steadily all the way. I am coming up to 25 now, as a jockey I am coming up to my peak age – where I can really kick on. Hopefully, that will be the case.
“It’s about being in the right place at the right time – riding the right horse in the right race. Hopefully I can rack the winners in – not just the quality but also that the quantity is there as well.”