Ever since he rode his first racehorse in public about six years ago, William Buick was described as “baby-faced” and even now it is a comment still occasionally hurled in the direction of the sleek 24-year-old.
However the British racing public, along with owners and trainers from Europe and beyond, now fully recognise the powerful force created by maturity and huge talent along with this jockey’s healthy dose of ambition.
And when he rolls up for the big night at Happy Valley on 5 December – with a record HK$800,000 prize money up for grabs at the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship – not many will be underestimating Buick who seems equally effective whatever size of stage he is operating on. This year he has booted home eight Group 1 wins, but earlier this month he was in unstoppable form for the small-money prizes offered in front of insignificant attendances on the all-weather track at Britain’s Lingfield Park racecourse.
Buick – who is the son of a multi-champion jockey on the unheralded Scandinavian racing circuit – had barely even spoken to John Gosden when he was targeted by this tall and charismatic figure in January 2010. But since the day that he agreed to become stable jockey to the suave Newmarket trainer, the fortunes of both have soared.
Take this year, Gosden has become British champion trainer for the first time and Buick-ridden horses have won over a million pounds more – in win and place prize money – than any rival jockey on a British racecourse.
And, though Frankel and Black Caviar may have dominated the headlines at Royal Ascot, Britain’s supreme racemeeting, Buick partnered five big winners leading to his observation that: “When you ride with confidence you think you are King Kong. It’s just cloud nine.” Meanwhile Gosden believes that Buick fits the bill despite any extra advantages that confidence can provide: “I like his style. I like his intelligence. I like his balance,” says the newly-crowned champion.
Whilst the great majority of Buick’s major victories this year were for Gosden the most exciting memories that the jockey gave many racing fans were his last-to-first sprints on the Australian-trained mare Ortensia at Goodwood and York during August. On both occasions Buick showed that he was a master of the clock. He knew when to sit chilly, he knew when to pounce and it was great to watch.
Hong Kong could provide yet more highlights with Buick’s mission here likely to also include an assault on the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile aboard the tough and talented Irish-trained Gordon Lord Byron.
Picture courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club: LONGINES Hong Kong International Races selected overseas runner Gordon Lord Byron, representing Ireland, arrived at Sha Tin Racecourse 29/11/12.