Meet the world's TALLEST jockey – racing today at Cheltenham!
Meet the world’s TALLEST jockey! 6ft 4in Jack Andrews makes his Cheltenham Festival debut today and towers over his much-shorter rivals… but will his 5ft 7in sister, riding in the same race, ruin his day?
- Jack Andrews is more than a foot taller than your average jockey in the UK
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Jack Andrews, who stands at 6ft 4in tall, is not your conventional jockey. He himself has admitted as much.
Rides have been difficult to come by for the 24-year-old, though on Thursday and Friday he will mount two runners with a chance, albeit perhaps faint, of achieving his dream of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner.
Racing is an extremely insular sport in more than a few ways. Andrews would have found that out owing to his height.
Riding for Ben Pauling today, he has a trainer who grew up through the ranks and knows more than most what it takes to saddle a Festival winner having left Nicky Henderson’s winning machine in 2013 to go at it alone.
With his debut coming in the final race of Thursday, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir National Hunt Chase, he can’t expect similar crowds to those that greeted Constitution Hill or Honeysuckle on the first day, but that will not alleviate any of the pride and immense sense of achievement he will feel.
Jack Andrews – who stands at 6ft 4in – will ride Anightinlambourn on Thursday at Cheltenham
The jockey is more than a foot taller than the average height of his fellow jockeying fraternity
Go to Newmarket or Lambourn on any particular morning and you will see how hard they work
Hailing from a racing family with both of his parents, Simon and Joanna, successful amateurs in their own right. Simon rode Newnham to victory in the 1988 Foxhunters at Aintree. He grew up around Lilley, in Hertfordshire, with two equally racing-mad sisters, Bridget and Gina. Naturally, Andrews always dreamt of being a jockey. However, a growth spurt in his mid-to-late teenage years appeared to scupper those plans.
‘I grew up in a big racing family, point-to-point background, both my sisters ride, Gina’s a champion jockey in point-to-pointing and Bridget’s obviously a very successful professional,’ he told the Jockey Club last year.
‘It was one of those I didn’t really have an option. I was probably 5ft 10in when I had my first ride so I was okay and then when I got to about 17 I really shot up again and that is when I got quite tall.
‘There was a fear I might not be able to make it as I grew up thinking I would be a professional rider when I was older.’
However, when his weight, naturally for anyone reaching their later teenage years, started to increase steadily, it appeared as though the dream would fall by the wayside – through no fault of his own.
‘When I was sort of 18 and 19 I got very heavy, I didn’t think it was reality (riding professionally), even if it was something that I always dreamt of doing.’
The average height of a jockey in the UK is around 5ft2, while some can weigh as little as seven to eight stone, around 45-50 kilograms. Andrews’ feeling that what he had dreamt of all his life would not become reality was founded in, well… reality.
However, in addition to their – typically – slight frames and extremely resilient personalities, jockeys are also characterised for their punishing hard work at all hours of the day. Go to Newmarket or Lambourn, the UK’s two biggest racing hubs in terms of yards, and wake up at the crack of dawn and you will see.
ANDREWS’ CHANCE AT FESTIVAL GLORY
Anightinlambourn – 20/1
Not That Fuisse – 40/1
Odds courtesy of Paddy Power
It is a punishing job, and often a thankless one – considering the dangers and risks involved. But Andrews, as with so many of his colleagues and rivals, continued by sucked in by that drama, and the slight chance that ultimate glory in the sport, a Festival winner, could be yours if you continue to push yourself and work hard.
‘When my weight became good over the last few years, I thought why not,’ he said, modestly, overlooking the work he himself had put in. ‘And I enjoy every minute of it, getting paid to do something I love.’
Again exhibiting characteristic modesty in an interview with the Jockey Club’s social media channels last year, from the Cheltenham parade ring, he was asked about how he keeps his weight down.
Last year, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) raised the top weight allowance for jumps’ jockeys to 12st from 11st 12lb.
‘It is a daily thing that I have to constantly keep an eye on, I try to eat the right things; I try to eat regularly but eat the right things,’ he said.
‘Obviously there’s a few cheat days every now and then like anyone. I must be quite light naturally anyway, quite a light frame.’
Andrews will be aware that the focus will be on his height as he prepares to ride out aboard Anightinlambourn, however his record suggests serious talent and ability in the saddle.
Last year, he partnered 140 mounts, winning 16 races at a strike rate of 11 per cent. He raked in just shy of £250,000 in prize money as a result. The season before, he had ridden 11, with two wins at a strike rate of 18 per cent.
The stats themselves don’t tell the entire story, but he has made enormous strides this year – the sort of strides that take a jockey closer and closer to their ultimate achievement. Partnering 43, he’s ridden seven winners, including an impressive seven-length victory aboard Sambezi at Fontwell earlier this month.
The atmosphere in West Sussex on that rather cold and miserable Wednesday afternoon will have been quite different to that which greets Andrews later today, though it is a scenario he has been turning over in his head almost all his life.
One aspect of that he might not have considered, however; was the notion that he would be racing against one of his sisters, Gina, a point-to-point champion jockey.
Gina Andrews – one of Jack’s sisters – is a champion jockey in point-to-pointing and will race against him on Thursday
It would be remiss to compare Andrews winning either today or tomorrow to the fairytale stories of Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle earlier in the week, but it would just be another feather in the cap of another brilliant Cheltenham Festival week.
Aboard Anightinlambourn today in the 5:30 and then Not That Fuisse in the race that follows the Gold Cup tomorrow, all eyes will be on him.
‘Gina and Bridget have both ridden a Festival winner, so I’d love to ride a winner at the Festival. That’s the aim,’ he said.
‘The big one I want to tick off the bucket list is to ride a Festival winner. It would be a brilliant achievement.’
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