Father and son rivalry as competitive as ever between John and David Egan

 The Egan

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IN the sport of kings, none could argue David Egan’s stock makes him anything but racing royalty.

If he was a yearling at Tattersalls sales, they’d be starting the bidding in millions. When it comes to a blue-blooded background in the sport, he certainly boasts a bigger one than most.

His dad is Group 1-winning weighing room veteran John Egan, still booting them home approaching 50.

His mum is Irish Grand National-winning trainer Sandra Hughes, while uncle is former multiple champion jockey Richard Hughes.

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The Egan’s are as competitive as ever on the racecourse

And just for good measure, his late grandfather was legendary Irish trainer Dessie Hughes, winner of two Champion Hurdles among a host of other big races.

When it comes to chasing a certainty, the biggest ever was how David was going to earn his corn. Quite how impressively he was going to do so, however, is another matter entirely.

Even the man himself, though with respect, he is barely that, keeps having to pinch himself.

For Egan, just 18, is storming towards the champion apprentice title in his first full season as a jockey, with an impressive 52 winners already.

 David Egan is based with Roger Varian (pictured)


David Egan is based with Roger Varian (pictured)

The teenage sensation, based with Newmarket giant Roger Varian, has a list as long as your arm of people who have helped along the way. And there is no doubt who tops the list — dad John.

He is David’s mentor, advisor, harshest critic . . . and not averse to dishing out a dose of tough love. That was never more evident than in the early days on one of the first occasions father and son rode against each other.

David recalled: “Riding against him now is normal, but at first it was strange. The first time we did was in the Brocklesby, when he beat me a short-head for second.

“There are no favours from either of us — he’d be on me like a ton of bricks if that was the case.

“There was one race at Chelmsford early in my career when he left me short of room and told me ‘it won’t always be me who’s doing that. No-one will give you an inch’.

“It was good advice. I knew straight away out there on the track, you’re on your own. He’s definitely my harshest critic and has taught me more than anyone ever could.

“We live together in Newmarket and every day go through the rides and he will point out things I had no idea about. If I’ve done something wrong he will tell me straight away.

“From the start dad was my idol and he is still my hero. I try to copy him and if I can end up half the jockey he is, I’ll be more than happy.”

Moment cop who called in sick was caught out on live TV celebrating as his horse won at Ascot

He’s making hefty inroads already, with that apprentice title looming ever into focus.

Yet at the start of the campaign it was the last thing on David’s mind. In fact he’d have been happy with a couple of dozen winners, let alone a total heading for around three times that figure.

He added: “Going into this year, after riding seven winners last, I just wanted to improve my actual riding. It was more about getting better than anything else, more than numbers.

“I hoped to build up the winners, but never expected anything like this. If you’d offered me 20 at the start of the season, I’d have snapped it up.

“Dad was champion apprentice in Ireland and I wanted to follow in his footsteps, but never thought it would happen this quickly.”

Matt Chapman’s TV tips

1.50 Ascot – Waady: ‘Last run was a cracker and on ratings should be involved’ (add to your betslip)

2.05 Newmarket – Rose Berry: ‘Consistent performer and has a great each-way chance’ (add to your betslip)

2.25 Ascot – Waldgeist: ‘The stand out horse in the field’ (add to your betslip)

2.40 Newmarket – Qemah: ‘Classy Royal Ascot winner and can bounce back to her best’ (add to your betslip)

3.00 Ascot – Projection: ‘Been an unlucky horse and better than his results’ (add to your betslip)

3.20 Redcar – Darkanna: ‘Her form puts her in with a big chance in this field’ (add to your betslip)

3.35 Ascot – Straight Right: ‘Jockey Oisin Murphy is in great form and should suit his style’ (add to your betslip)

David’s own early days were spent riding ponies while he was still in short pants, and sitting in weighing rooms surrounded by jockeys as he accompanied his dad to the races.

From there it was on to hunting and then, aged 11 or so, hours and hours at Dessie’s training base near The Curragh, where things steadily began to take off.

David said: “At first he’d put me up on the quiet horses, then taught me to canter on the gallops, on to my first bit of work, and so on.
“Then I went to Willie McCreery who trains near The Curragh, because I wanted to be a Flat jockey. From 14 or 15 I rode out most weekends and in the summer holidays.

“I moved to England when I turned 16 and had a month at the British Racing School. Then it was on to Mr Varian’s and I’ve been there since.

“It’s a great yard to be working for and seeing former jockeys like John Lowe and Paul Eddery, you are always picking up hints and advice.

“Last winter I spent three months in America with Jose Corrales, an old mate of my dad’s, at Laurel Park which was a massive help. He taught me a lot on the simulators and worked a lot on my style. He’s been a huge influence but the biggest influence will always be dad.”

Sharing the same house means splitting the cooking and driving between the two Egans.

But while the riding may be getting better by the week, the same can’t be said about the kitchen. David explained: “We take it in turns with the cooking.

Hungry horse goes missing after its race… and turns up in the course canteen

“But at the moment I’m probably busier so he’s been doing more — although neither of us are the best.

“Living together means a lot of friendly banter. He will always keep me grounded. In fact he’s probably at his most critical when I have ridden a winner.

“And it will get tougher when I lose my claim. I’ve got just under 40 to go.

“They can be long days too. I can be up around 4.45am and it can be gone midnight when I’m home. It can be really tiring, but being a jockey was all I ever wanted and the winners give you an adrenalin rush which keeps you going.”

If winning is, as they say, a drug, then young Egan is well down the road to becoming an addict.

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