RACING’S King in the north Ben Curtis is going all out for the jockey’s crown.
The Irishman has notched half a century of winners and has Oisin Murphy in his sights as the title race hots up.
Curtis, 31, is enjoying the best season of his career and is one of five jocks in contention in the tightest championship contest in years.
Murphy leads the way on 67 winners, but Tom Marquand, William Buick and Curtis are snapping at his heels, with Hollie Doyle not far off the pace.
Curtis told Sun Racing: “People keep asking me if I’m going for the title, I just turn to them and say ‘yes, of course I’m going for the title’.
“Especially this year. We are only allowed to ride at one meeting a day, so it’s a level playing field and jockeys can’t rush around the country getting 13 or 14 rides a day.
“I’m the only one of the main protagonists who is based up north, the others are all down south on top of each other.
“Oisin and Tom have big retainers or big stables which dictate which meetings they have to ride at, so they will have to go to certain fixtures and build a book of rides.
“It’s the same for William who has said he is going for it, but he will have to go to the meeting that Charlie Appleby wants him to go to.
“He would usually go for one or two rides, but now he will fill a book around it.
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“I’m riding lots of winners, I’m really enjoying it and I’m just going to carry on doing what I’m doing. Being the only one up north makes my agent’s job a lot easier, so maybe it gives me an advantage.”
Curtis reckons reigning champ Murphy is still the one they all have to catch.
And the bookies agree, with Ladbrokes making him 2-5 jolly ahead of Marquand at 10-3 and 6-1 shot Buick. Curtis is the outsider of four at 16-1.
He said: “The three lads all have very strong bases behind them. Tom Marquand is riding virtually everything that William Haggas runs, Oisin is riding a lot of winners for Andrew Balding and William has Godolphin.
The contenders… latest Ladbrokes odds
Oisin Murphy 2-5
Tom Marquand 10-3
William Buick 6-1
Ben Curtis 16-1
Hollie Doyle 33-1
Jim Crowley 50-1
“I’m very lucky to ride for Karl Burke and Roger Fell. They’ve plenty of decent horses and I’m always heading to a day at the races with at least a couple of chances.
“Oisin is still one to beat, no question. Tom is giving it a good crack and he has a lot of momentum and a lot of firepower behind him.
“But I think William could be a big contender and he could be the threat to all of us. He has said he intends to give it a good crack. He rides a lot of winners already and he is going to get more and more outside rides.
“I’ve got a bit of ground to make up and touch wood I’ve had no suspensions, I think the lads between them have a couple coming up, so hopefully I’ll stay healthy and keep riding winners and we will see where it takes us.”
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