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Jockey To Watch for 2017/18
Mitchell Bastyan, an 18 year-old conditional rider who turned professional only in March 2017, has already ridden winners for several trainers and the future looks bright. Since making the switch from the amateur ranks, as of August 18th he'd notched 11 victories from 51 rides (21.6% strike rate), and a pound at starting price on his mounts would have put you £54.88 in the black.
And Bastyan has quickly shown that he's equally effective over both sets of obstacles. Over hurdles, as of August 18th he'd ridden six winners from 31 rides since becoming a conditional (19.4% strike rate, £4.38 level stakes profit to £1) and five chase successes from 18 rides over fences in that time (27.8% strike rate, £52.50 LSP).
At first attached to Brian Barr's stable, Bastyan made an immediate impact in the paid ranks with a win on Veauce De Sivola in a handicap chase at Lingfield early in March. He was also seen to good effect over fences on 50/1-chance General Girling at Wincanton three days later (this win single-handedly responsible for the spike in his chase rides-LSP), this horse on and off the bridle for the last circuit, Bastyan riding positively into the last three and pushing him out for a workmanlike, but decisive success.
In June Bastyan joined the Evan Williams yard, and rode a winner on his first ride for the stable - Prussian Eagle in a handicap hurdle at Ffos Las in June. He was travelling best when produced to lead at the last, then the horse lugged to his left and was skilfully handled by Bastyan to keep him straight on the run-in, only using hands and heels.
One of the first achievements that a young rider starting out wants to fulfil is beating the champion jockey in a close finish, and Bastyan has done that already. Riding Still Believing in a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in July, he survived mistakes three out and at the next and the horse hung left before the last, but got a good jump at the last and Bastyan drove his mount out to beat Richard Johnson on Braavos by half a length.
What I've noticed is that Bastyan won't go for the whip unless he really needs to - he showed his strength in a finish in the Still Believing-race in a situation that needed the full works, but he'll win without recourse to the persuader if he possibly can.
Having already been trusted with a good ride by his retaining trainer (that high-class hurdler Court Minstrel in the Galway Hurdle, unfortunately brought down at the first), there's a potentially massive season ahead of Mitchell Bastyan and he's a jockey to have on your side.
Follow Mitchell Bastyan on Twitter at @MitchBastyan
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