Racing News
Monday 27th January 2014

William Buick - Ready to be a Champion?

William Buick
© Caroline Norris

William Buick

William Buick, the former champion apprentice, landed one of the plum jobs in racing when, in 2010, he replaced Jimmy Fortune as first jockey to John Gosden's powerful Newmarket yard and they have since been annually touted as the jockey and trainer combination to follow for the summer.

Yet, four years on, Buick is still waiting for the big win that will set him apart as a great jockey. There is no doubt that he is consistent - he has won at least one Group 1 race every year since 2009, including five in 2013 - but he always seems to find a way of avoiding the top step of the podium at major events.

Buick is the son of jockey Walter Buick and was born in Norway, holding both British and Danish citizenship. I read in this Norwegian page that I found that his Scottish-born father was Scandinavian champion jockey on eight occasions and his mother, Maria, was a dressage rider and showjumper.

He spent his formative riding years under the watchful eye of now-retired trainer Ian Balding at Kingsclere. The mentor of a string of top riders, Balding was so impressed that he struck a bet of £10 at odds of 500-1 that he'd one day be champion.

He shared the champion apprentice jockey title in 2008 with David Probert and won the Lester Award for Apprentice Jockey of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Last term he landed the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes on Elusive Kate and the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes on Winsili. Then came a sparkling triumph on The Fugue in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, going one better after a narrow defeat in the race in 2012, and he then rode the same horse to victory in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Even so, there were plenty lining up to criticise his efforts on The Fugue, and some were less than impressed when he came in second to Dominant in the Hong Kong Vase. Five weeks earlier, the pair had finished in the same place in the Breeders' Cup Turf, beaten three-quarters of a length by Magician.

It seems fairly obvious that he has what it takes, and that there’s not a lot of fine tuning required in order for him to reach the next level, and claim the kind of victory that has so far eluded him.

At one time there was talk of a defection to Godolphin, but that seems to have been pushed under the carpet for the time being. The jockey will start another year with a a point to prove, but there is no doubt that he is good enough to silence the critics.

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