Newmarket apprentice jockey Grace McEntee thrilled after claiming first winner
Grace McEntee says claiming her first winner has given her a massive confidence boost going into the rest of 2019, writes Alex Moss.
The Newmarket-based apprentice jockey won on Lunar Deity in the Free Bets At totesport.com Hands & Heels Apprentice Handicap at Chelmsford last Thursday.
Riding for trainer Stuart Williams, who trains out of Diomed Stables, in Newmarket, the teenager rode Lunar Deity to a 10th career win and the £5,434 first prize.
“I couldn’t believe it,” McEntee said. “It’s been a dream of mine to win a race, and to do it, you can’t really explain what it feels like.
“I’ve had a few close calls before, getting a few seconds and thirds. It’s mainly helped my confidence a lot.
“Before I was getting rides and not winning but, since then, my last three rides I’ve finished in second, so it’s helped my confidence.
“Everyone has been so congratulating, even now I’m getting messages from people saying well done. I just want to say thank you to all the owners and trainers who have supported me.”
McEntee, who has also had rides for two other Newmarket trainers, Amy Murphy and father Phil McEntee, is one of the youngest jockeys at 18.
“It can be a bit daunting when you have people who have been riding for a lot more years than you,” she said.
“But I’ve grown up in racing and been around them, so they’re all nice towards me.
“I’ve been racing for two years now and the support from everyone has been great and makes you want to go out there and do it.”
Williams, the trainer for Lunar Deity, added: “It’s fantastic. I picked the race out for her a month previously, as I don’t have an apprentice at this moment in time.
“She rode him at Wolverhampton (December 10) and finished third. Then she came in all over Christmas and the New Year, as we knew we had this race in early January.
“It was very nice to see her win and very rewarding. Her dad Phil then beat me in a race later on in the day!”
A successful night at Chelmsford for the McEntee family saw Pearl Spectre, trained by Phil, win the Bet In Play At totesport.com Handicap. It was part of a 209/1 treble by jockey Nicola Currie from just four rides.