Tony Hind aiming to steer William Buick towards Champion Jockey title
Jockeys’ agent Tony ‘Boney’ Hind is at the very top of his profession.
He’s already been responsible for seven champions and this year he’s planning to add another to his illustrious CV in the shape of William Buick.
Having recently opened the door of his office, a comfortable chalet in the garden of his Fordham home, after his well earned three-month winter break, Hind has just embarked on his 30th year doing the job he loves.
“I have got this thing in my blood that I love making champions,” he said. “ I got a taste of it when I made Ryan (Moore) champion and I never looked back I just wanted to carry on doing it. If I see a jockey has got it in him then I will work 110 per cent for that jockey and, first and foremost, I am going to try again with William Buick this year.”
Hind currently looks after five jockeys. His stable also includes Ryan Moore, Pat Dobbs, Jim Crowley, who was champion in 2016, and David Egan who Hind sees as a future champion. “All my jockeys have to do is get out of bed in the morning. I do everything for them. But I am very honoured to have the jockeys I look after,” he said. “There’s a lot of hard work but the good thing is I am 24/7 so a trainer could never say to my jockeys I couldn’t get hold of your agent.”
This year, the self-styled kingmaker’s focus will be firmly on Buick who rode 151 winners in 2021 and was just pipped to the title by Oisin Murphy.
“I am going to go for it from start to finish with William. He is very lucky to have a good batch of horses to ride for Godolphin this year but he is also very well recognised by a lot of outside trainers. I actually lost count of how many different trainers he rode for last year. He has got a lot of good contacts, he is a brilliant jockey, and has got all the attributes to be champion. We only missed out by two last year and by eight the year before so obviously we are improving.”
Now feted as the master of his profession Hind’s own love of racing took root in the sitting room of his parents’ home in London’s Lambeth where, as a seven-year-old, he would watch the ITV Seven sitting on the back of the sofa riding winners with his dad’s dressing gown cord as reins and his mum’s knitting needle as a whip.
At eight, and already streetwise he was working as a spotter for the fly pitchers in Oxford Street, warning them of the presence of plain-clothed police officers and earning more than his dad in the process.
Five years later he was on a train to Newmarket where his dad, Doug was working for trainer John Winter. Hind started off with Gavin Pritchard-Gordon before joining his dad at Winter’s. A spell with Dickie Westbrooke followed and, in 1977, he signed his three-year apprentice indentures with Tom Jones.The following year he looked after the country’s leading two-year-old filly, Devon Ditty, whose five wins included the Lowther and the Cheveley Park Stakes.
So how did he end up being a jockeys’ agent? In 1987 Hind had found himself in Lambourn working for Barry Hills.
“Barry asked me to go up the gallop with this kid I didn’t know. I watched him and I could not believe how he rode. I asked who he was and how long has he been in the yard. His name was Darryll Holland and I was told six months and that he had come straight from Manchester I could not believe it he was so good. One afternoon I saw Darryll walking with his head down, and asked him what was wrong. He said he couldn’t get rides. Then one of the lads said Boney’s got the gift of the gab, he’ll get you rides.”
And before he knew it Hind was in the phone box at the top of the yard with a tin of 10p pieces ringing round trainers.
“ I remember I spent two hours in there and got him six rides,” said Hind. “I started doing it regularly for him and paying other lads to ride my third lot for me so I could get to the phone box quicker.”
He would give trainers the stable’s office number and tell them to ask for Peter Chapple Hyam or Joe Naughton, then Hills’ assistants. “I could not say I was Tony Hind, stable lad no-one knew me,” he said.
“One day I looked at this apprentice race at Brighton, where a trainer had two runners in the same race and only one was jockeyed up. I rang him and asked if he had a jockey for the other one. I said I’ve got the best apprentice in the country, Darryll Holland, who can ride it. When he said he had never heard of him. I told him you will have done after he wins on it. It was Darryll’s first ever winner and the trainer’s other horse finished second.”
It wasn’t long before questions were being asked back in yard as to how Holland was getting so many outside rides. I told him do not lie to them, just tell them I am doing it from the phone box,” said Hind. “He did and they said that couldn’t go on and got one of the girls in the office to take over. I went back to my stable lad’s work.”
When Barry Hills re-located to Lambourn Hind came back to Newmarket to work for James Fanshawe, who he’d known since the pair worked for Michael Stoute in 1980 the year Shergar arrived in the yard.
Socialising in Newmarket’s New Astley Club Hind found news of his early success as an agent had preceded him and he was approached by jockey, Allan Mackay, to be his agent. “I really wasn’t sure but then I thought, what have I got to lose. He doesn’t know me so I must be good at it and I took him up on it.
“I got a jockey called Steve Perks, then Franny Norton but It wasn’t going very well and on I was on verge of giving it up. Then Allan Mackay said would you take another jockey, Jimmy Fortune, and I thought I would give it one more go and I took him on.Then I got Richard Hughes and things just took off and I started loving the job,” said Hind.
Royston Ffrench, who was to be Hind’s was his first ever champion when he took the apprentice title in 1997, followed. “ Once I had made Royston apprentice champion I wanted to get a champion jockey,” said Hind.
At the end of the 2001 season trainer, Gary Moore, asked him to look after his son, Ryan, who was set to join Richard Hannon as an apprentice
Hind went to Lingfield to watch him. “I remember walking out of that Lingfield weighing room and saying to Gary that’s the next Lester Piggott and they only come along once every 20 years,” said Hind.
In 2003 he guided Moore to the apprentice championship and three years later to the first of what would be three senior titles.
In 2011 another member of Hind’s stable, Richard Hughes, just lost out to Paul Hanagan in the title race. “That did me a favour because it made me want to do it the following year, which we did, and the two years after that,” said Hind. “To win it three times with Ryan, and three times with Richard, I got the bug of loving to make champions.” And in 2016 he did it again this time with Jim Crowley.
“I watched him one day at Windsor and I saw everything I wanted to see. He was just a horseman, a brilliant jockey, and I just thought that’s the man for me,” said Hind. “I asked him what his goals were and what he would like to achieve. He said he’d never finished in the top five of the jockeys’ table so he would like to achieve that. I said you are no good to me then because I want to win it with you. From Glorious Goodwood we were something like 24 winners behind Sylvester de Sousa. I said to Jim look I am willing to give this a go if you are, but he is going to be hard to beat, so put your pyjamas in the drawer because you ain’t going to be sleeping.
“Anyway we just had a remarkable August and September when I think he rode 46 winners which broke the record for the winners in a month. I told him once we get near Sylvester the momentum will be with you, it’s mind over matter thing.
“We got to two behind and then Jim rode a four-timer and went two in front and that was it job done.”
Through his association with Crowley, Hind has struck up a great working partnership with ex-jockey and Shadwell racing manager Richard Hills. “It’s great to have him because he does a lot of ground work. He is always out watching the horses gallop in the mornings and he will help me with where a jockey is going to be,” said Hind, who also works well with William Buick’s boss, champion trainer Charlie Appleby. “If there are two meetings with group races I would ask him where he would be likely to send William so I can then say to other trainers I’ve got William going to Newbury or Newmarket and with the races that Charlie hasn’t got entries in I can go and fill up his card.”
Pivotal to Hind’s success is his ability to judge form, guiding his jockeys on to right horses from Ayr on a Monday, to Ascot on a Saturday, and he is helped by a piece of handicapping software he wrote himself and shows to no-one else.
“I have had it going for about 14 years. I handicap horses logging them into my own system which tells me which is the best horse in the race,” he said. “The computer can’t tell me everything though like can one of my jockeys improve on the jockey that was previously on been on a horse and all things like that.”
But it’s a system that has helped him put his jockeys on the winners of the trickiest of handicaps including the Royal Hunt Cup six times, the Stewards’ Cup eight times, and the Wokingham six times. The success he has achieved takes hard work and during the season the days are long and, without interruption, can stretch from 6am to 10pm. But those long hours have paid off and have seen the one-time stable lad become one of the most successful and influential players in British Flat racing.